On entering the office one recent deadline morning, I was told that the electricity had gone out and would be out for the next six hours.
Since I had one more story to write, not of much moment, but nevertheless a story that needed to be done to fill out the page, I thought, for the first time in a very long time, of manual typewriters and how they would — for me at any rate, because I don’t have a laptop — save the day.
We have a few of them downstairs, all of which I’ve probably used at one time or another, but I quickly learned that they were hopelessly gummed up, and before I could properly mourn their loss, concluded that I would have to go home and work on Mary’s laptop.
I hate computers, if the truth be known. I never feel at ease with them. At least with typewriters you knew where you stood and where what you’d written was, right there on the page. What I’ve written on this screen thus far looks palpable enough, but it’s a deception. A thundercrack or power surge and I’d be cursing the dark again, agonizing over the fact that I had not yet hit “save.”
I have just done so, but I’m still not reassured.
At any rate, I went home to our new computer. The old one had drowned a few weeks before, having fallen victim to an open window and a vigorously oscillating sprinkler. Nothing could be done, though our editor, who is very much at home in this technological age, did his best, for which I genuinely thanked him.
Before leaving to work at home, I asked for the address to send the story to and was given email@example.com.
Not wanting to bother Mary, who was at her mother’s and who is very computer literate, with any importunings, I wrote the story as an e-mail, and when I was done the better part of an hour later I hit “send” and quickly picked up the phone.
“Did you get it, Kathy — I just sent it.”
No, Kathy said after checking, they hadn’t gotten it. Sometimes it took a while. She suggested I try another address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and then went back to work. (The electricity had been restored to the back shop early on, a line having been run over from the library.)
As soon as I began to type in the new address I knew I’d done something horribly wrong. I went posthaste to the “sent” box, the one with the paper plane at the left of the screen, hoping against hope. . . . The story wasn’t there!
Mary said she’d be right over. Frankly, I moaned, I doubted that even she would ever find it. And I’d been working the better part of an hour!
But she did! In some unexpected place, after clicking on everything there was to click on. “Don’t ask me how I did it,” she said as she began to print out a copy, which I tugged from the machine as if I were performing a forceps delivery.
She also, bless her, sent what I’d written to the second address given, and off I went to the office, relieved but seriously shaken.
Later, I was told that the e-mail I’d originally sent did, in fact, arrive, but well after the one Mary had sent.
Where, then, had it been?!
It would have been a good question to raise at the computer class I’d signed up for that afternoon, but which, because of all of the above, I’d missed.
Another day and I am not yet saved.