It all started the night before. As my netbook (the computer where I do all my writing) was updating, the screen suddenly went black. Then these words appeared: no bootable device found. No, this wasn’t part of the worldwide ransomware attack. My problem occurred days earlier.
I tried not to panic. But practically everything I’d ever written was on that computer. While most of it had been backed up on a flash drive, I’d forgotten to do that for the last few months. You see, I have this challenge. It applies to all facets of my life. I can be going along just fine, doing everything I’m supposed to. Then something happens to interrupt the pattern—a trip, an ailment, anything that gets me out of my routine. That’s when my brain suffers the same kind of fate my computer did. No bootable device found.
Still, there was nothing to do but attempt a good night’s sleep before taking the netbook to the local computer docs for a thorough internal exam. The fellow at the desk assured me it’s almost always possible to retrieve the data. Stay calm, he cooed. “Stay calm” was the mantra I kept repeating while the Gnome and I ran a couple of errands before going home to await the call from the self-proclaimed computer geeks.
One of those errands was to the local big box home improvement store to pick up some drywall and painting supplies for our latest home rehab project. The clerk said we were in luck. This was the last day of a 10% discount on paint and paint supplies. I moaned to the Gnome. If only we’d known, we could have gotten the couple of gallons of paint we’d need shortly. Paint is expensive! The clerk reminded us we had until 9:00 pm. Not likely—we had work to do and another hour-long round trip to town wasn’t in the cards.
The call came in the early afternoon. Stay calm. Stay calm. It’s almost always possible . . .
Almost. The operative word. “We’ve done all we can do here,” the guy said. Our hard drive had a mechanical failure. The next step was to send it off to intensive care specialists. It would take a couple of weeks and if—if—there was anything salvageable (that didn’t sound optimistic), it would cost another $400-$1,000. Plus the cost of repairing or replacing my computer.
By this time, I couldn’t remember anything that was on my computer. Could any of it be worth $1,000? Especially if I couldn’t remember what that might be? I couldn’t concentrate. Everything began to go wrong. I varnished the wrong side of the treads for the new stairs we were building, for one. Seemed like a good day to chuck it all.
I suggested we go back to town, after all, and pick up a pizza. We could use the trip to see what computers were available locally and maybe we could even get that discounted paint. We searched in vain for a paint chip naming the paint we needed to match, so we grabbed an old paint can with the paint code on the lid.
While the paint guy tried to match the code, we perused paint chips. We were sure we’d recognize ours if we saw the name. But all we found were names like Dust Bunny, Wool Coat, Basket, Spirited, Capricious. Really? Do you have any idea what kinds of colors those are? Then there was La La Love, Someday, Semi-Sweet, and Panacea. I could have used a little semi-sweet panacea about then. The name of our paint had been nothing like these. Besides, we’d gotten that can six years ago—an eon in paint time. All the names had changed.
We had a long time to scour paint chips. The paint guy simply could not make a match. Every gallon he mixed up, and he mixed up plenty, came out wrong. Too pink, too green, too anything but what we had.
We’d been waiting almost two hours when he came up with a color that was pretty close. Good enough on a new wall, perhaps. But not where we needed patches in existing walls. Maybe the remaining paint in our old can would stretch far enough to make those touch-ups. We decided to get the new mix, along with a can of white. Thinking about the 10% discount, we picked up some more paint-related supplies.
That’s when the checkout clerk (followed by a manager) told us the paint discount only applied to business accounts. What?! We could have waited till some other day for the disappointment of not finding a match. Too late now to look at potential computer replacements. Dejected from head to toe, we just grabbed a to-go pizza and headed home.
On the way to the house, we checked our mailbox. Nothing jumped out at us, so we laid the small pile on the counter and ate our pizza as we mulled over possible next computer steps. Then I took a second look at the mail. A letter from our utility company. I figured it was the next month’s bill; instead, it was for a fuel delivery I’d already paid—apparently a few days late, though there was no due date listed on the bill and I’d paid it well within 30 days of its receipt. Turns out that’s not their measure, so I owed a whopping forty-six cents in finance charges.
Forty-six cents. Perfect ending.
Post script: Still haven’t figured out what to do about my lost data. We found a highly-reputable service on line whose maximum charge is less than the minimum quoted to us on that no good day. I vacillate between going for it (it would be nice to get my e-mail address book back, for instance) or just throwing my arms up in surrender and starting all over with a clean slate. Decluttering, even if forced, can be refreshing—my own personal reboot.