I think I am playing the Hunger Games.
Today, I was skipping through my emails, when the unthinkable happened. My screen went blank; apparently I was trying to insert a disc that Windows did not recognise. I looked under the bench, just to be sure, but no, nothing was being inserted, anywhere. I turned the laptop on and off several times, but it just kept giving me the same stupid message, a vertical sad face asking me to wait while it self- diagnosed. I huffed and I puffed, swigged my last bit of coffee and went off to do something else for an hour. The laptop was still not happy to see me when I returned, the face looked even sadder and had done nothing about self diagnosing; 0% complete.
Leave it mum, you don’t know what you are doing. Sage words waft from my daughter’s bedroom. I continued to hit buttons randomly, until finally I was asked to solve the problem with a re-start. Yes finally, I have an answer. Mum! My daughter came out, please do not hit any more buttons, you could make it worse.
It’s alright, I answered in total control. I have hit the re start button, I tell her confidently.
Noooooooooo, mum, you will lose everything.
I am slightly nervous, its OK, I reassure us both, I have a back up. We were burgled a couple of years ago and lost everything that was stored on our computers, so I had bought a hard drive and learnt my lesson, backing up every month.
Mum, I told you not to touch it, you were so desperate to get online, you were impatient. Silence, she is right.
No, I say, it told me it was a restart.
So you hit back up right? She hits back .
Errrr, uncomfortable feeling in my gut, umm………. She huffs and walks back into her room. I am getting old and a liability.
I look at the computer; it tells me that it will need several re boots before it is well again, so I decided to take the dog out. I am just about to come off the beach, when Blue goes rigid, assumes the sheepdog position, and then takes off, like a furry rocket. I follow his direction and see a golden retriever in the distance. The owner sees Blue and braces. Beside himself with excitement, Blue meets his friend and runs round and round, runs to the sea, goes in, comes out, grabs a stick, drops the stick, licks the other dogs face and sniffs his bum. The other dog stands stoic. I reach all three of them.
“Hi”, I say, “Blue loves your dog”. “Yes”, says the owner, “we know”. ” I think it is because your dog played with mine when he was a puppy”, I tried again. “Yes”, says the owner. “Oh I see your dog has had an operation”, last attempt by me. “Staph infection”, curt reply “….from the creek there”. She nods her head in the direction of the creek at the end of the beach. “Oh”, I say, “I’ll put Blue on the lead then, don’t want him catching anything”. “No”, stone face says, throwing a glance at Blue who is now on his back.. “Right O I’m off”, I say in a pantomime voice.
I stuck Blue on the lead, and trudged back to the road, hoping that I have not wiped two years of our lives away. I was mentally going through things that might be lost and calculating the consequences, as I popped into the public toilet and pushed on the first door.
“Oh dear, sorry, sorry”, I close the door again quickly, old lady at 12 O’clock, “sorry “,I shout again. I am actually busting now and wishing I had kept up with my pelvic floor exercises. Thinking I might have to use the vacant toilet, that looked like it had just vomited, was making me feel light headed. How much time does the old dear need? Me shuffling, Blue sniffing everything, silence from the cubical.
Then….”I don’t think I can get up”. I silently look to the Gods and mouth, why me. “Do you need some help? I cross my fingers. Blue is pulling against the lead to get out, or eat the mess in the next toilet, he is not fussy. “Yes I think, so”, came the polite reply. I put the lead down and secured it as best as I could, and go forward.
I don’t think I can get up dear, can you help me?
I put my hands out and the little old lady holds on. I pull. I felt like the farmer pulling that turnip out. She winces, “are you OK?” I ask. “It’s just that I have just had an operation on my wrist”. I let go instinctively, and she plopped back down, but not before I had seen too much. “Shall we try again?” I encourage. “Perhaps we should flush first”, I pull the lever. We tried pushing from behind, pulling from the front and settled on me sort of crouching, while she sort of pushed off my shoulders. We finally got out; I use the toilet and hit the outside breeze wondering what had just happened.
Expletive, where is Blue? I nipped back in, thankfully, the mess looked like it hadn’t been eaten, so I dashed back out. Not on the beach as far as I could see, so I scout the road. Yes! a man has him and he is on his phone. I run to them both. Hey Blue, I rub my dogs head. “Is this your dog?” The man asks. “Yes”, I say, putting my hand out to take the lead. “Hey Blue”, I say again. The dog, who knows he is in trouble because he has walked along the road on his own, dragging his lead, does not acknowledge me. We waited there until I correctly gave my name and address. I decide to cut the walk short and get home unscathed.
EVERY SINGLE FILE has been deleted from my computer. I spend the next hour trying to retrieve my data from my hard drive. 15 mins trying to remember my passwords, 20mins reading how to reset my password, 20 mins opening files named ajhfrejk,hr lkuh v.jhafuk,l 10 mins banging my head on the counter. I shoved everything into a bag and headed to the experts. I explain to the very young man that I have reset, by mistake, and need to retrieve data from my hard drive.
Did you press re set?
Did you have to put in your location and language details?
Was it like when you first bought your computer?
OK, there I nothing I can do, you have mopped up your C drive.
I pull my hard drive out. Can you show me how to retrieve it from here then please?
That is not a hard drive
That is a sharing center
It’s a box that allows your family and friends to share movies and things
Yeah, that will not have anything on it.
Can you please just try? I beg.
He turns to the beautiful girl next to him, who doesn’t look old enough to be legally working, and speaks to her in another language. She smiles and asks for my password. Her fingers work at fast forward and files appear. There, I shout excitedly, she opens the folder. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and my Reptilian brain kicks in. RUN, RUN, RUN. I cannot run, she has my laptop, which is now displaying, a 40cm screen, full of erect penis. She collapses the file but we are still looking at a thumbnail collage of porn. I have children, was all I could say, which made it worse. The original guy came back and she speaks to him, words hidden by her own language. He stares at me. “There is nothing we can do”, he says and hands me back my things. I go home. Everyone denies the download, and we had a dinner conversation about it, through sniggers.
If I look outside and my car is on fire, and I hear a mockingjay, I am definitely in the Hunger Games.