Out Of Line

Better to be outside living than online musing about it

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: November 4, 2002

Out Of Line

My computer crashed a few weeks ago and I found myself like a two bit junkie hustling from place to place to get my web fix.

It was surprising to realize that a very vital and important part of my work life could simply end, and all of the work I have done over the last several years, lost. The good news is that I had the foresight to save my major projects on floppy. The bad news is that a lot of good stuff is gone and I fear I may never be that clever again.

Stalworth and determined, I was there when the public library opened, toyed with the idea of going to an Internet caf? but feared being spotted there by normal people, then eventually ended up at Kinko?s paying 20 cents a minute, twelve bucks an hour. My wife was sweet. She later told me she was prepared to buy a laptop if I started breaking out in hives or started stuttering.

It all started quite innocently enough when I tried to install as laser mouse, but the mouse turned out to be a raton, no doubt sent on a cyber-mission from the cartoon rodent media king pin Speedy Gonzales as a certain retribution for me nationally humiliating him.

The computer was frozen, booting, re-booting, a literal Air Jordan patada to the hard drive and nada. My tripping began when I actualized that the home office computer is my link to the world -- I publish weekly on many website throughout the country. As a screenwriter, I have deadlines, commitments. Worse of all I would have to explain to my Esposa that I broke another major appliance by trying to fix it.

After the smoke cleared, not smoke from the computer but rather the steam that seemed to shoot out of my ears. I took a deep breath and called Tech Support. For some computer manufacturers their 800 number tech support centers are located around the world. You can never get the same weenie twice.

Here are some excerpts from some of the conversations that took place over the course of six hours: (The help-line customer service effort ended when my home phone batteries discharged and went belly up.)

?Dude, this happens all the time, you erased your hard drive.?

After walking me through the windows re-installation steps, ?Hey, don?t feel bad that your taking my time, if I?m not talking to you I?m like, totally talking to someone like you all day until my shift is over.?

?So Sir, I?m the second tech you talked to, and you couldn?t do it, and I?m in Alabama??

?If you don?t have the reboot disc that came with your computer, all you have to do is download one, from your computer.?

?I am Laddy, no I am not aware of an Alabama sir, I am in Southeast Asia?

?You will need to press the correct buttons with your good hand sir, but first I will need your code sir...? Ok, man it?s G as it Jihad, B as in bite me... D like in I dunno what you are talking about...

With the home phone dead and tech support player hating, I cell phoned a web master who said, ?Trying to fix a computer like mine is like buying a old lady of the evening a drink.? And although I didn?t understand the analogy, having been guilty of that process on many occasions. I called the Dell Dude and ordered a new CPU. There was one catch, they actually have to build it for you and it would take two weeks to have it sent to the hizzy, this made me dizzy.

The first day without the web was like staring at the spot in the driveway where they repossessed your Monte Carlo, OK, my Monte Carlo. I would get a cup of coffee sit at my desk and, and sit at my desk. Oh, I found out they have these new really retro hard copy things called ?Books? and ?Magazines.?

After a few days of cold turkey, not withdrawals as much as I had time to cook now, curiosity was getting the better of me. Desperate to check my e-mail I resorted to visiting the local library and got a card, then logged on only to find that no one knew I was off-line and that most of my cyber-importance existed mostly in my head.

The cyber community is a relatively small and exclusive one. Folks like us have an eclectic collective of good friends who because of the cyberspace are scattered around the planet, and if counted are relatively few in number.

After a few weeks of being clouded in the anonymity of being incommunicado, I?ve realized that it is better to be outside living it then on-line just musing about it.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national colunmist who is behind on several projects.

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