Saturday, May 14, 2016

Dem Laptop Blues

It was after the Easter holidays that the workplace replaced the desktop computers with laptops. It came with an untidy mess of cables.  At the end of each day it was to be carefully locked away in a filing cabinet or a cupboard. I made a diagram of which cable went where so I would be able to assemble it the next day. No one told me what each cable did but I worked it out.

As we moved from one desk to another, the laptop came with us. We were to detach it from the cables, carry it to the other desk and the plug into another set of cables. It was tedious, but like highly trained seals we caught on.

Docking stations began to pop up about the place. The untidy mess of cables was tidied up. The laptop clipped on to the top of it, lid closed down, and stand-alone monitors and keyboards would take away the need to squint at the small laptop screen.

On Thursday I took my laptop to a desk with a docking station – I didn’t have one yet. I clipped the laptop and hands hovered over the big keyboard and monitor. Nothing happened. Nothing kept happening. Eventually someone came over. Her advice was to remove my laptop and pull out the relevant leads from the docking station and plug them into my laptop. Hey presto…I had lift off! I did my stuff.

Back at my own desk, the one without a docking station, I plugged cables back in. Nothing happened.  Nothing kept happening. The blue ended cable that connected to the projector to the laptop wouldn’t do its stuff.  That’s not quite true – the laptop screen was blank, but the projector screen wasn’t. I could use the screen and the remote if I twisted my head and pointed it over my shoulder. It wasn’t ideal but I worked with it for a while. At the end of the day, despite knowing I had coffee appointment, I stayed to see if I couldn’t fathom it all out. Let’s just say that the cleaner and I gave up after him standing on a table and pushing buttons on the projector. The laptop screen was still black and the picture on the projector screen was now upside down.  I dashed off a memo to the workplace in general, sending out an SOS.

I was frazzled to say the least.  I was also late.  I spent five minutes reverse parking somewhere close.  It was private carpark happy to open the barrier after 5.00. It was 4.15 and the barrier was up. Notices in yellow warned me that CTV camera were operating. My dance with the car, in and out of a space had been recorded and it was just 4.15. I sensed the possibility of a fine and drove off.

I was also breaking in new shoes. This little detail tells you I had the promise of a blister on the back of my heel.

My coffee companion was a no show.  I ordered tea and a cake anyway. The tea was good, the cake was stale. Always be suspicious of a cake with lots of frosting.  My domestic science teacher’s words came back to me.

Thursday night is prayer meeting night. I seriously didn’t want to go. I knew I would end up crying over my bad afternoon.

I went. I picked up my Bible (one should never go into battle without one’s sword) – and grabbed my stiff upper lip from its dropped and quivering state and headed off.  I repeated the mantra “I will not cry!”

I didn’t cry. In the midst of worship and prayer, I didn’t want to cry. Being surrounded by church family, the angels in heaven and God in the midst of us – I didn’t want to cry. Tomorrow I would have to deal with the laptop and the projector and the upside down picture on the projector screen – but that was tomorrow.

There was a lot of love in the room – yeah, that old cliché! There was. I felt loved though no one told me I was loved. All the angst of the afternoon – the laptop horror, the parking CTV images, the no-show coffee friend, the stale cake and the sore heels – I knew myself to be deepy loved.

Isolation is the worst kind of strategy when things are not going well! Take it to the family. They may not have the solutions you want but they have what you really need!

I went home.  I hummed a tune as I drove.  Has I a tail, it would have been wagging.

The idea of a poem was in my head. The next morning I wrote this.

Mu baby got dem laptop blues…oh yeah
Mu baby got dem laptop blues
Dey took away her desktop
Now she’s hitting the booze

At work there was a docking station on my desk. The SOS memo had been effective. The boss had sent the IT man to solve it. The projector screen was the right way up. The laptop still wasn’t talking to the other technology. A maths teacher came by and pressed lots of buttons and the laptop fired into action. The IT man also came by to check I was up and running. A senior management lady visited to check I was fine.

I emailed my poem to everyone and all the laptop and docking station troubles surfaced from all the corners of the building. Perhaps the poem had given them permission to admit that they had their own laptop blues. Everyone had their own story to share over coffee in the staffroom. The IT man had been told to write a troubleshooting article. It felt like family – and we haven’t felt like that in a long time.

There was a lot of love in my workplace!

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