I stared hard at the plastic and metal thing weighing heavily in my hands, but weighing even more heavily on my heart. A flux of emotions rippled through me like a kaleidoscope of splintered dreams.
It was dead. Okay, technically since it was made of silicon or whatever, it was never really alive, but it was definitely dead now. I mean door-knob dead. Certified dead by the highest authority available. And it was all my fault that it was dead.
Well, that’s not true. I didn’t kill it. The technician who performed the autopsy could not say with complete certainty what had been the cause of death. He simply said, “These things happen from time to time.” And he said it with such a disarming objectivity. I just wanted to shout at him, “Don’t you know what this means?”
I turned the piece of hardware over and over looking for a restart button. Some kind of magical rewind, but there was none. If the college kid in the starched white shirt and skinny black tie couldn’t resuscitate it, there was no hope whatsoever that I could do anything with it.
It was strange. I felt such an emotional attachment to this thing and yet I’d never actually seen it before, let alone held it in my hand. But locked inside were stories, dreams, and achievements, along with half-finished ideas and works-in-progress… all now lost forever.
The kid (well I suppose he was 20-something) handed me an invoice for the work he had done. I noticed that he then carefully returned the pen to a plastic sheath in his shirt pocket. “Your computer is all put back together. This new hard drive has ten times as much memory as that old one, so you’ll have no trouble reloading all your files from your backups.”
It took every ounce of restraint to not just grab him by the shoulders and yell as loudly as I could directly in his face, “I don’t have backup copies. Nobody actually makes backups. They just don’t.”
Instead, I numbly wrote out a check for the amount and handed it to him. I thanked him for his effort because that was the right thing to do, but my heart was shredded. These people were supposed to be able to fix anything—to somehow type 36 odd characters while holding down the shift and control keys and make everything work again.
There was years of work on that disk. And it was all gone. No backups. Yeah, I would be able to retrieve some things that were online one place or another and I had hard copies of some things, but most of it was just gone--especially all my e-mail and e-mail addresses. I mean, it’s not like I actually know any of them, I just click on them and drag them into place when I need them.
Most of all, of course, I was angry at myself.
Backup copies… I mean, how many times had the thought run through my mind, “You really should copy these to a memory stick or something. I had just never done it.”
Forlornly, I dropped the useless drive into the waste basket.
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