Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Replacement




A wise person once said that you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.  Yet when I hear that, I'm also reminded of something that Ted Danson said on an early episode of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, when Larry gifts Ted a new shirt that has a small hole in the collar and tells him he can take it to the store to be fixed.  Ted says, "Larry, this isn't a gift, this is a problem."

My three-month old laptop computer crashed last week, thereby causing a chain of events that would eventually derail my equilibrium in this universe, and make me question the very humanity within myself (and frankly, mankind in general) that would allow us to universally and unequivically tie our organically beating hearts to these inauspicious devices that 30 years ago when I was born wouldn't fit into my two-bedroom apartment.  Nevermind that it's virtually impossible to complete a routine task without the assistance of our circuitous friends.  Let's consider that a computer that was manufactured only a few years ago is highly unlikely to perform to our ever-changing standard, which develops at such a staggering pace that can only be measured by the relative number of Steve Jobs' new product release ceremonies that have "revolutionized the world" since you bought your now-considered-old-ass-piece-of-crap device.

Even still, a 10-year old anything these days is considered antique, and the enormous monstrosity that my employer has designated as a replacement while my laptop undergoes surgery and a long-term rehabilitation program gives new meaning to the word "obsolete".  When I first saw it on my desk this morning and recovered from the anachronistic shock of seeing something so out of place, I was immediately reminded of my combination refrigerator/microwave that was in my dorm room Freshman year in college (only, as my luck would have it, this one had no cold beer inside).   Seriously, I've urinated in smaller airplane bathrooms than the amount of space this thing takes up. 

As I searched for the on/off button, I began to realize that not only was there no mouse, but it was also missing another critical piece of hardware - a keyboard.  So, I walked a few blocks down the road to Staples and picked up the necessary accoutrements, stopping along the way for a hot coffee, and also a nip of Baileys to throw in there just in case things got too out of hand. 

I returned and cringed once again as I rounded the corner into my office and saw the R2D2-esque machine proudly revealing it's ugly transom like a cat walking around with it's ass in the air.  Is this thing a Tandy?  A few minutes later, I still couldn't find the on/off switch; maybe because instinctively I was looking for a choke and a pull-chord.  I must have been on to something though, because when I did finally find the button and pushed it, this thing revved up like a Craftsman lawn mower.  Neatly stacked papers flew off my desk like Hurricane Ike had miraculously developed in the middle of my office, noise and dust permeated from deep within the machine like an old diesel engine awoken after a 10-year hibernation. 

Like an old cougar at a singles bar after a few too many glasses of wine, the computer unabashedly displayed signs of its age with big slots for floppy disks you can fold in half and archaic programs that I thought had died with the Reagan era (Microsoft Works???).  I began to wonder if there was a warehouse-type room filled with tubes and processors somewhere that were ultimately responsible for the operation of this beast.  So, as the lights flash and sounds whirr around me, I am reluctantly starting my day of trying to catch up on a week's worth of work that I've missed since my laptop has been down.

Sure, this washer-dryer-sized contraption is a small step above nothing at all; vis-a-vis it allowed me to squeeze out this blog post.  I must disclose, however, that this post is mostly self-therapeutic in nature.  After all, kicking and punching this behemoth machine as it spends countless valuable minutes thinking about each single command I give it would be undoubtedly soothing at this juncture.  At the same time however, that behavior would certainly risk the chance that it will be able to provide me with the same substandard level of service tomorrow, not to mention I'd likely earn myself a hasty appointment with HR.   In contrast, the blog post allows me to intelligently vent my frustrations and verbally attack its very existence without it having even the slightest idea of my pure disdain for it.  It's kind of like telling a dog in a sweet voice that they are completely worthless and ugly, they can't possibly know what you're truly saying.  And despite the fact that I type at a rate four to five times faster than the words appear on the screen in front of me, I feel decidedly better now that I've berated and verbally abused it to its core.

Now I just have to figure out where I fill up the gas in this thing.