Thursday, December 15, 2016


My desktop computer died a few weeks ago without warning.  When I say it died, I mean it was, in the immortal words of Jerry Clower, grave-yard dead.  That might not sound like a very big deal to some of you, but it was.  That computer held the entirety of my professional design portfolio, all of my design software, files, fonts, and patterns, all of the pictures that I'd taken and stored for the past 15 years (along with scans of other pictures that were taken before things were digital) my library of audio books, my digital crochet patterns, my writing  projects, my spreadsheets dating back to 2004, and the very, very worst thing to me was that it held the archives of all of the emails that I'd been saving since practically forever.  I don't just mean regular emails, I mean important and special emails that I'd saved on purpose.  These were irreplaceable emails from my late father, my late mother-in-law, and emails that people had sent me during bad times in my life where they were encouraging me (I'd pull those out and read them periodically when I needed a boost.) There were emails where Steve and I were writing our wedding vows, emails where I'd been sent photos and recipes, and then there were just emails from people I love a whole lot and liked to keep our correspondence, because we are funny and had fun conversations.  I kind of likened it to those letters you hear about people finding in old hope chests, tied with blue satin ribbons and kept forever, only they were digital and had no ribbon, because technology hasn't evolved that far yet..  That's just how important they were to me. 

I have no idea what happened to the computer, but when it died, it went down hard and took everything with it.  When I realized what happened, I thought I'd go into a major panic, but I didn't. I sat down and cried for about 3 minutes, but it was just too big to cry over, really.  I hadn't really had time to think through what all the loss of the computer was going to entail, so I went back to my bedroom and slept for an hour, the way a person does when they are trying to avoid bad things.  Besides...I had backups.  Steve said I had backups.  Steve should know, because he is a computer guy.  BACKUPS.

Only, for reasons we still don't understand, both backups failed.  FAILED.  We knew that one of them hadn't been working properly, but the second one, a 2T external hard drive that was supposed to be my saving grace in situations like this, also bit the big one.  I still didn't panic, although, I came really close when Steve said that my second backup wasn't working.  I must've looked kind of scary, because the first thing he did was bundle me into the car and take me to the Apple store to buy a new computer.  The salesman took one look at my face and didn't try to up sale or anything else, he just let us buy the new computer and leave.  Steve spent a LONG time trying to figure out what had happened to the computer.  He felt bad, apparently, because he had not been checking to make sure that any of my backups were still functioning...for years. I can't blame him, I guess.  It wasn't his computer, so why would he think of it, but WHAT IS THE POINT OF BEING MARRIED TO A MAN WHO DOES I.T. WORK IF HE DOESN'T CHECK ALL THE COMPUTERS?!!  *ahem*  Sorry.

To make a long story much shorter, we took the old computer to a Mac shop that does data restore and they managed to find some of my files.  Some of them were useful, some of them were garbage, and some of them were things I'd deleted a long time ago (so just a reminder, kids...nothing is ever truly gone on a hard drive unless it's really, really important to you.)   Steve ran a recover program on the external hard drive, and we found some more files...again, not my emails, but design portfolio isn't a complete loss anymore.  So there is a very thin silver lining to this story.  I now have an updated iMac with a few usable files on it, and now I have a subscription to the Adobe software I need that will save things on a cloud in case of another complete meltdown.

In light of full disclosure, though, I feel I should be honest enough to tell you that I finally did have the long awaited, stress-related come apart brought on by the loss of my computer files. I'm not proud of myself, but I can't, with good conscience, leave you with the impression that I handled this with complete composure. 

The recover program that Steve used on the external hard drive took over a week to run.  For some reason, the files that were stored on the thing had fragmented, and the program had to piece them back together like a jigsaw puzzle from hell.  We weren't even sure that when it was done, any of the files would be usable, so when we got back from our Thanksgiving visit to Georgia, we saw that it had finished.  However, as it turned out, we couldn't look at the files right away because the recovery program needed to be paid for.  Fine...thought it was free...but whatever.  We paid the fee and were sent a key to open the program, only the key wouldn't work.  Steve decided to call the help desk, because at this point, if we lost all these files again, I might have burned down the house.  Look, y'all...I don't know who's big, amazing idea is has been to locate help desk jobs in India, but I'm going to just go ahead and say that the people over there - as qualified and as smart and capable as they are - do not seem to understand when people from America are trying to tell them no.  I don't know if the tone doesn't translate well, or if there is a language barrier, but when Steve tried to explain our trouble, the man on the other end of the phone decided that instead of helping us, he needed to remotely log into my machine and try to find firewall issues.  Nothing that Steve, in his soft-spoken, computer guy language, seemed to say would deter this man from doing just that.  Thinking that would speed up the process, Steve allowed him to remote in, only the help desk man didn't seem to understand that a firewall wasn't what we needed at the moment. He insisted that he needed to finish that before he could tell us how to use the key to open the computer program.

This is when I lost my composure.

I took the phone from Steve's hand and proceeded to explain to the man, in tones and language I normally never use with other human beings, that neither I, nor my computer, needed whatever (expletive deleted) that he thought he needed to do right now unless it involved unlocking the (expletive deleted) program that we'd just bought from them. I shouted at the poor man, I rhapsodized about what he was currently not doing to satisfy me as a customer, and then I went on to elaborate about how I'd gladly speak to whomever they felt it appropriate to elevate me to in the event that the person I was currently talking to couldn't help me in the way I needed to be helped.  I said a lot of things.  A lot of mean things.  The man on the other end of the phone was very quiet, and when I handed the phone back to Steve, the help desk man went on to help us unlock this program.

Then I went into my bedroom and cried very hard for a long time, because I am not the kind of person that does things like that.  If I could have called India again and gotten the same man, I'd have apologized to him.  Having worked as customer service for as long as I did, I do not, as a rule, do things like that.  I can only blame the stress of the computer stuff finally just wearing me down.  I need to do some kind of penance, but just what, I'm not sure.

So that is the story about how I lost, and now partially recovered, my computer stuff.  My emails are still gone, and I keep finding lots of little things that didn't get recovered, but at least my freelance work isn't a complete loss, so...yay.

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