There are some things you don’t miss until you don’t have them anymore. School-age children. Toothaches. Toenail fungus. Add to that everything you ever typed, uploaded, downloaded or in any way created to your computer — including the book that you’ve been working on for a few years now and is due to be published in a very few weeks.
Just another difference between me and Jesus. Jesus saves. Me, not so much. I know about back-ups and thumb drives and something called The Cloud. I know about “The Bachelor” on television, too — and multiple vitamins and sugarless diets, but that doesn’t mean that I avail myself of any of those things.
What I am trying to say is that my MacBook Air computer died Saturday morning. Bless its heart! I hope I can go so peacefully. It just went to sleep, and when I tried to restart it, it wouldn’t wake up. A blank screen emerged with one of those circles you see on street signs with a diagonal slash telling you “Do Not Enter.”
There was no need to worry. Nobody was about to enter my Macintosh, or read a single file, or retrieve a single list of people going on a single Huck’s Tour, or confirm a single contract for a single bus itinerary or hotel stay or dinner. My machine was graveyard dead, understand.
I didn’t panic. At first. I did what you are supposed to do in those situations. I powered it off and tried to reboot. I’m not completely technologically illiterate. I knew to do that. I have a cell phone.
It didn’t work. Any of the four times I tried. Then I cussed it. Several times. I reminded myself of the time I sold an old lawn mower to my preacher. He called to say it wouldn’t crank. I told him you had to cuss it while you pulled the starter rope. He, rather sanctimoniously, reminded me that he was a preacher and no longer recalled any curse words.
I told him to just keep pulling on that lawn mower rope and they would all come back to him.
When cussing and rebooting my computer didn’t work, I did what I always do in these situations. I called my lovely wife Lisa in to save the day. When she couldn’t get it going, I panicked. It is a bad thing for a 4-year-old grandson to watch his 67-year-old Papa cry. But that’s what Sir Henley the Adorable got to see his Papa do Saturday morning.
Ah, but then I called Apple Support and after being on hold for a long while, I was connected to a man, apparently from far, far away, who I could not understand and who was of no help whatsoever. I thanked him for trying and said goodbye in frustration and called back, hoping for a better draw. I got one. This girl sounded just like me, and when I apologized for the poor quality of the sound on my cell phone, she assured me that she understood because she lived down in a holler herself.
I was talking to a Kentucky girl! She couldn’t get the computer cranked up, either, but she had the good sense to put me over to her supervisor, Ann, a lady who I found out lived somewhere in Indiana — and I was very thankful for that last “a” on the end of her place of residence.
Ann was wonderful. She spent — off and on — eight hours on the phone with me over three days. I cannot relate everything that happened, but she got my computer open by having me press down a random set of keys — I needed to be an octopus to reach them all — while pressing the power key, standing on my head and humming “Amazing Grace” into a glass of orange juice. Then she had me go out and buy an external hard-drive, located my information — there was years and years and years of non-backed up data on my old computer — and we typed in a 97 digit code with spaces and ampersands and forward and back/slashes — and she kept cautioning me to do it exactly right and to not touch anything else — I felt like I was in a Hollywood blockbuster disarming a nuclear weapon.
This was after hours and hours and hours of trying different tactics unsuccessfully, understand. Finally, on Monday morning — we took time off to sleep at night — she said we should say a prayer before hitting enter. We did. The data seemed to transfer, but we weren’t out of the woods yet.
We had to make it come up on the new computer Lisa had bought me for the purpose. The first couple of tries — NADA. Then Ann worked more magic, more keys were pressed simultaneously upon startup, more triple-dog double secret codes were entered and VOILA! Every document I owned magically — and beautifully — appeared on my screen. And the files would open, too.
I thanked Ann. I thanked God. I thanked Steve Jobs. I did the happy dance.
Then I backed up my stuff — all of my stuff — to The Cloud, whatever that is — to two different thumb drives and to the external hard drive — and to an old computer. I am back in business.
I wanted to thank Ann — whose last name and actual location I am not allowed to know. But she was gone, just like that. On to the next computer illiterate old person. But the strangest thing happened.
After I shut down my computer and stood up, a silver bullet fell out of my lap.