When My Computer Stops Working, I Know What To Do


This morning I turned on my laptop, typed a few things, heard a quiet “tink” and everything shut down.

I did not scream. I did not yell. I did not curse. That is because, decades ago, when I worked for The Palm Beach Post, if everything shut down in the newsroom, the silence was deafening. I only worked there part-time as a freelancer, so I had missed the memo, but I assume that it had read, “We don’t want to hear you broadcasting to the world that you neglected to hit ‘save’ for a very long time. That is your problem, not ours.”

Of course, non-functioning keyboards were their problem, and somewhere beneath our feet or in a highly electrified room off to the side, someone was scrambling like mad to get those computers up and running again, and they were probably allowed to scream, yell and curse all they wanted, as long as they got things going in time for us writers to meet our deadline.

As I sat there this morning, quietly observing my blank screen and thanking my lucky stars that the Post had taught me to hit save every minute or so, my mind naturally decided who to blame. I decided to blame a recent update that had occurred in the middle of the night.

I hate updates. I sell antiques on the side, and am almost an antique myself, so I like everything in its old, original state. I fondly remember my first computer and its little typing program — so easy to use, so easy to understand. Then came the updates, modifications, safety measures and “improvements,” a misnomer if ever there was one. With my first computer, you turned it on and there was your program. You might have a file or two to click on, but that was it. It now takes me 14 clicks to get to the page I need; 18 if I want to read my e-mails. I actually read my e-mails on my phone while my laptop is looking for them.

It’s not that my current laptop is old, not that old, anyway. It’s still relatively fast compared to others I have used. And the L has rubbed off, but I know where it is.

Nonetheless, on this day, following the “tink,” I did what I always do, which is pack up the malfunctioning whatever it is and plop it down in front of my husband Mark and ask him to work his magic.

It doesn’t matter what it is, Mark knows how to fix it. My friends are envious as heck. If there’s water under the sink, like last week, Mark yanks out the offending pipe and puts in a new one. If I’m stuck in the guest room and the doorknob just keeps spinning around in my hand, like on Tuesday, Mark takes the thing apart and reassembles it. If the washer has walked itself out into the middle of the laundry room, like on Thursday, Mark walks it back and adjusts its little feet. So when I showed up at his desk with the laptop today, he just sighed.

I left to get an Egg McMuffin and, when I came back, it was fixed. Here’s what he’d done — turned it on.

I guess some of us have it; some of us don’t. And here’s what you have — a humor column. Thank Mark.