Saturday, April 23, 2011

A, My Name is Anna and I Live in Alabama

Earlier this week the computer I have at my work zigged where it normally zagged. I have spent years in a deferential and supplicant relationship to this box of wires and cards ostensibly purchased to facilitate elevations in productivity of my achievement but in actuality part of a larger obstacle course to the daily doing of my job.

I should confess that I'm not a very good typist. Or liar, since the proceeding sentence was an understatement of a scale and scope suggesting Susan Powter is a little different (that'll teach you to ask 'whatever became of...?'). I am a terrible, terrible typist (one terrible will simply not do) who has no concept of touch typing at all and who punishes every keyboard, hitting them with a unrelenting and frightening ferocity. It is very possible (and practically inevitable) that if you're very quiet right now wherever you are, you can hear me typing.

The keyboard I have at my job requires you to insert your identification card, with its magnetic strip, into a slot in the upper right corner, typing in your secret squirrel code, all of which then allows you access. Much like breakers on a beach, my unceasing pounding of the keys has resulted in the letter "A", the one below the "Q" and above the "Z", an anchor of the home row, to have worn away to nothing. The key is there but the letter is gone.

Not only am I not a touch typist, I'm one of those simpletons who has to look at the keyboard all the time I'm typing and also say the word aloud as I type it. Pathetic, I know. Perhaps the sound card in the computer chose to work in reverse and the keyboard was finally able to hear what I was doing with it all this time. Perhaps not. What actually happened was in the course of the morning, returning to my office and reactivating my computer, the keyboard refused to read my credentials.

The screen saver, John Lennon in National Health glasses, stared as unhelpfully and blankly at me as I did, a lifetime earlier, at his Yoko sideboard watching Get Back, both to the same end and to no avail. From one moment to the next, I was unable to prove to a piece of formed plastic that I was whom I claimed to be. All those hours of Janovian Primal Scream therapy wasted (I do have exceptional lung capacity, ask Michael Phelps. Talk about MI.). The solution was so 21st Century--no need to fix the keyboard, we'll pitch it and get another. They don't grow on trees, admittedly, but it's not like mining gold, and it's actually cheaper than repair.

So here I now sit, with a brand spanking new keyboard whose letters gleam as they are bathed in barely flickering fluorescent illumination, not that my face is all aglow, still surprised to look down and see ALL the letters in all their glory and majesty. The "P" may be silent in pneumonia but the A in Aardvark is visible from space, even if it's only office space.
-bill kenny

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