Disappeared

Like Alice, I’ve disappeared lately into the hole where mysterious things happen. However, the mysteries I encounter are no fun and not by choice. It’s the world of PC versus Mac; the world of Microsoft Word 2007 installed on a PC, versus Microsoft Word 2007 installed on a Mac. It’s the world of “track changes” being communicated to me from a copyeditor from her PC, not doing the same things when opened on my Mac. In other words, vital communication is being thwarted by these techy problems leading to off-the-charts levels of frustration.

The kind where, after a while, you just have to leave the whole scene and take off for a look at the glimmers of sunlight hopping on top of the waters of Clinton Lake to calm yourself. But before you get to this magical scene, you have lugged your old desktop PC leftover from your teaching days in your sewing case-on-wheels (because it’s heavy and you have a bad back) down to Geeks-on-Wheels for the Geeks to install a copy of Microsoft Word 2007 on it because you tried yourself and the monitor shouted at you, “YOUR HARD DRIVE IS IN GRAVE DANGER,” although in techy language of course.

But, on the way to the spiritual blessings of sunshine on lake water, a cop pulls you over. You lower your window to see what kind of cop you’re getting, and when you look at him carefully, you’re still not sure.

“Do you know,” he says, “you took an illegal U-turn.”

“I think so,” I say.

“I can see you’re eating while driving. Not the best idea.”

Caught. My frustrations had taken me to McDonalds for the no-no’s–cheeseburgers and fries.

“What are you going to the lake for?” the cop then asked.

“To read,” I say pointing to my huge Raymond Carver biography lying on the seat next to me.

He nodded slowly, taking me in. Then he left and walked back to his cop car while I finished off my fries.

Minutes later, he’s back with paperwork in his hand. I think, THIS IS GOING TO BE A VERY EXPENSIVE DAY!

He leans his head down towards me.

“You know you did something wrong,” he says.

I counter with, “I think I have a pretty good driving record, sir.”

“Well, I have a pretty good driving record, too,” he says, “but if I took an illegal turn it would still be illegal. My mistake could seriously injure somebody, or myself.

“You’re right,” I say, knowing now I can’t negotiate this one.

Then he hands me the paperwork through my window. I glance at it quickly.

“I am giving you a warning,” he tells me. Then he points to a scribbled figure on my yellow sheet. “It could have cost you…this much.”

I stare at the figure and try to keep a poker face.

“Thank you, sir,” I say.

“Take a minute before you drive to the lake.”

“I will, sir.”

The next morning I attacked the track changes from my copyeditor on my old PC–fixed and installed with a copy of Microsoft Word for $79.80–with a vengeance. For two track changes, it worked. Minutes ago, I turned it on to read, “a problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage to you computer…beginning dump of physical memory…physical memory dump complete…contact your system administrator or technical support group for further assistance.