I should have seen this coming.
Shouldn’t have gone to Stone Creek this morning, I thought as I sped to Walgreens to buy four bags of rice and a tiny screwdriver, tearing up, blasting the only CD residing in my car at the time — Bob Seger’s Greatest Hits — and generally acting like a 13 year old who had just gotten dumped.
Minutes prior, I had spilled what I later approximated to an unhelpful customer service representative at Apple as eight ounces of lukewarm coffee on my keyboard. After knocking my mug over with my elbow, I watched as its contents drained into my hard drive, the screen flickering, the white noise.
Some kid on the other side of the room in my night class — hearing my shriek and subsequently turning to witness the coffee seep out of my laptop — yelled “turn it off!” I listened.
After turning my computer off, unplugging it, flipping it upside down and warning my classmates of the impending pout, I slammed all my stuff into my backpack, dropped some mumbled profanities to no one in particular, used a handful of toilet paper to clean up the river of coffee flowing off the laminate of the desk and asked my professor if I could go home.
Five customer service phone calls (A-M-A-N-D-A, M-O-N-T – yes, ‘T’ as in ‘Tina’ – H-E-I), three hairdryers, one sleeve of Oreos and innumerable websites giving wildly conflicting information later, I was still pouting, but luckily made it to the couch of an understanding friend’s house.
My writing, I thought. My photos – music – random thoughts that could have one day been made into a complex, best-selling narrative (because obviously, this is where I think most of my random thoughts will end up) – gone.
But despite what felt like an electronic apocalypse, I knew that to alleviate the pain of losing the only digital reserve of my life — though fragmentary at best — I’d have to learn something from my predicament. Pouting wasn’t going to help.
What I found is that I have concentrated a good amount of what I hold dear into what amounts to fancy repositories of fleeting moments — my cell phone, my laptop, its hard drive now covered in dried-up coffee.
Photos are nice, and moments of clarity or inspiration that result in my jotting something down is the genesis of all my best writing.But, clutching this shiny machine as I speed-walked to a friends house to borrow her hairdryer, I felt like a woman gone mad. It’s only a machine. It’s not the end of the world.
Sometimes we all need to be reminded that it’s not the end of the world. It’s not the end of the world when we sleep through our alarm clocks and our first two classes of the day. It’s also not the end of the world when we miss an assignment, bomb a test or miss a deadline. That’s just life. Even academically devastating things really don’t matter that much, I promise.
So yeah, I lost some of my digitalized life snippets. I had a little break down. I didn’t thank the friends that were attempting to help me, and definitely gave the Walgreens cashier a pretty harsh glare when he asked me if I wanted to sign up for a Walgreens Reward Card.
And after all that, I sent passive aggressive text messages to my friends looking for a hairdryer, and might have yelled at my roommate when she tried to use an Exacto knife to undo a screw in the bottom of my laptop.
And while college students are kind of stereotypically assumed to be perpetually on-edge, stressed out, caffeinated to the extreme and generally a mental meltdown waiting to happen, the laptop scene was an eye-opener.
But before anyone else has to experience the speeding-to-Walgreens-to-buy-an-eyeglass-repair-kit blues, I say we all take a collective deep breath — maybe buy an external hard drive for situations like mine — and remember: it’s not the end of the world.