inflection II : the inflectioning

Posted on: September 24, 2011

Discouraging the friendly spirit of a little girl so she’ll likely never say positive things to a stranger again concluded my business at the public library, so I awkwardly gathered up my things and made my way home to call the various emporia of computer repair, the retrieval of whose contact information had been the sole purpose of my library trip. Settling on the one with the most reasonable rates within the most reasonable walking distance from my house, I dropped off my little laptop at a local Cambridge business, then returned home and attempted to fill the empty hours with meaningful activities, like reading and quiet contemplation – and entertaining Oola, of course – but I think I ended up just sleeping a lot and thinking about cookies.

That strange, computer-less existence mercifully lasted less than 24 hours; I got a call the following afternoon, and, in my joy, practically ran to the shop to pick up the probably close to obsolete but still worth repairing machine that is so dear to me (hey, remember when I hated computers and didn’t have one in my house? That was only 5 years ago. And, totally OT, but remember how I used to hate texting? And abbreviations?  Oh, the times – how they have changed me; I wonder if there will ever be a day that I don’t look back on a previous version of myself and wonder at the many different ways in which I sucked).

Unburdened by these thoughts at the time, I noted that the Professional Geek had changed the user icon on my computer, which I had never changed from the default MSN Marigold, to an adorable blue-eyed kitten; this pleased me greatly, as, when he’d enquired who regularly used the computer the day before when I dropped it off, I mentioned that Oola – referred to only as “my cat”  – while a casual user at best, did like to step across the keyboard from time to time. It was nice to think we’d developed some kind of rapport during the previous day’s professional business transaction, and that my needs as a user – someone who uses the Internet, Word, and has a cat – were now fully represented on my computer.

This pleasantness was very soon rent asunder, as PG began to recount the many things on my computer that he’d managed to save. It was indeed a thorough list, and while it made me happy at the beginning, as it went on I began to notice one thing he wasn’t mentioning, one thing I’d failed to bring up the day before, one thing that really, really needed to be saved:

“What about my passwords? Like online?” I asked.

He recitation faltered. “No,” he said. “You didn’t ask me to save those.”


And let me interrupt myself here to note that the disappointment I was attempting to express was directed entirely at myself. I know there’s a way to make that obvious when you’re actually in conversation with someone without having to make this kind of aside, but knowing something and knowing how to do something are, apparently, two very different things.

Despite my best intentions, this was not expressed as self-recriminatory thinking aloud, but instead as though I had been disappointed by the professional geekery of the young man before me. And so he, as one does, got defensive.

“If you told us that when you dropped it off, we could have backed that up. But you didn’t mention it.”

His expressive capabilities are superior to mine, because this was not in any way hostile, as it might seem on the page. Still, I could tell I’d said the wrong thing and, as I had the day before, attempted to over correct.

“I really need those.” Then it occurred to me that it was nearing the end of the month. “Shoot,” I continued (I don’t like to swear around strangers) “I have to pay my bills soon. I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do that.”

Properly expressed, those words would’ve said “Dude, I’m an idiot; thanks for your efforts, though – but boy, did I hose myself on this one.” They were not, however, properly expressed.

PG could only respond that I hadn’t mentioned that when I dropped off the computer. Because, that was the truth; he shouldn’t have needed to say anything else. However, I believe I mentioned elsewhere my own Repetition Tolerance Timeline – if you don’t remember it, shame on you! But also, here’s a reminder: It’s short. And, if my efforts to communicate to you that I understand are failing and I am consequently exasperated, it gets shorter. And so, after another round of me “explaining” and him defending, this happened:

“Ok, well, when I get my time machine, I will go back to yesterday and do that right.”

There’s no inflection in the world that would have made that the right thing to say. And kudos to PG for taking it like a champ; he simply guided the conversation toward the register, so that our business could be concluded and I could be on my way.

As a post script – at several weeks remove from the incident, it’s quite a relief that the Geeks don’t just take it upon themselves to back-up your passwords – inconvenient though it might be for me to actually have to actually remember something, it would be incredibly invasive for them to do otherwise. Also, apparently it’s possible that Firefox wouldn’t let them? Having been faced with an irrational customer or two in my day, I can see how that might’ve slipped PG’s mind at the time.


1 Response to "inflection II : the inflectioning"

It took me quite a while to realize the joys of texting. Glad you’re one of us now!

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