A Thank You Lesson

Missed me?

Maybe you’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting for a couple weeks.   Two (or maybe it’s been three) weeks ago, I stared at an unfamiliar screen on my Mac.

It was mostly blank. Dark, slate gray from chrome end to chrome end except for a small white circle with a diagonal line running across it.  It sort of looked like an international warning symbol used in signs advising things like NO SWIMMING or NO SMOKING.

It turned out to mean NO EMAIL. NO GOOGLING. NO BLOGGING.

I couldn’t believe it.  I checked my email only hours earlier.  And now it felt like my Mac was mocking me.  In its blankness, in its refusal to display my familiar PC desktop, I felt lost.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was about to embark on a profound journey into EXPECTATIONS  and GRATITUDE.

After quickly consulting with friends who are more computer savvy than moi, I was introduced to probable causes.  The consensus was that either one of the files that launch automatically during start-up had been corrupted, or I had a bad drive.

I called my computer guy (and most woman over fifty know what I’m talking about), and he concurred.  As he lives far away, we decided I might be best calling Apple Support and probably making an appointment with the nearest Apple store.

I bundled up for my subway trip to Apple’s glass box on North & Clybourn.  I checked in and waited for my technician to visit me at one of their open tables.

After running a few tests, he concurred that they could perform repairs but noted that it might be costly and he would offer “No guarantee” on being able to retrieve my data.

While I have used a back-up service for years, I got no feeling from the Apple tech that they would work with my service and re-assemble my computer anywhere close to where it was.   Like a mantra, he kept repeating No guarantee.  No guarantee.

In the hive of activity that is the Lincoln Park Apple Store, like a game show contestant asking the host to use their LIFELINE, I asked my tech to let me make a call before I decided on service.  I called a good friend who established a three-way connection with her son, who was a computer professional.  After some discussion, I decided to bring my Mac to Max.

I gave him all my passwords, including instructions for connecting with my data back-up service, as well as permission to spend whatever necessary for the repair.

I wanted to get my PC up and running like it operated BEFORE.

A few days later, he called to advise my machine was ready to be picked up.  I thanked him and arranged a time to swing by.  I was grateful for his quick attention.

When I arrived at his home, we established a new password, and then he confirmed the process I needed to go through to get my data files from Mozy (my data back-up service).

Oh no, I thought, my computer was nowhere near a state where I could use it.

After installing a new drive and re-installing the newest operating system, he thought his job was done.

It dawned on me that his typical clients knew what they needed to do for standard operations.  I was not.  Realizing he was probably not the best person for the next stage of my return to wired normalcy, I thanked him for his quick service and was determined to follow his instructions for retrieving my data.

Of course, there was a hang-up in the all-night download. I was back on the phone to Chester, my computer guy, begging for additional help.

I asked myself if I expected to be rescued.   No, I don’t think so.  I took precautions to save my data, but probably could have prepared for this situation better.

I accepted the idea that I had to do more work myself and that I had to re-learn some things.  I couldn’t click the heels of my ruby slippers and wish to be transported to the view I had of my computer desktop before it went dark on me.

But I realized how easy and automatic it is for me to say THANK YOU to all sorts of things; things as simple as finding a parking space close to a destination, or a seeing a beautiful sunset from my office window, or getting a slightly used garment from a friend who no longer wore it.

It’s easy to say THANK YOU when you have no expectations.  It’s much harder to feel gratitude when you have a notion of how things SHOULD BE.

Ah, but being human, it’s hard not to WANT what you want.

I can’t be inauthentic.  I can’t say THANKS when I don’t feel gratitude.

I tried to break my experience into separate stages.

I was grateful to the Apple Store tech for confirming the problem and for giving me time to consult with friends before I decided on my action.

I was grateful for my friend’s son for making himself available for a consultation and addressing needed hardware repairs.

I was grateful to Chester, my computer guy, for both using my back-up service and my damaged hard drive to re-assemble my directories as much as possible, for buying and installing the newest version of Office for Mac.  Getting operational took longer than I would have liked, but I never felt I was facing the challenge alone.

I was grateful to all my friends who recommended I start using Time Machine for back-up as soon as possible. (And I am grateful I can forgive myself for not looking into this earlier.)

I realized that even though I felt discombobulated during the past few weeks (and still have work ahead of me to re-construct bookmarks in browsers and such), I experienced interactions with others with a genuinely grateful heart. I understood that these people were trying to make things better.

Re-tracing a period of recent history in baby steps with an eye towards the best intentions of everyone involved is no small thing.


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