It takes quite a bit to make me scream like a woman in one of those horror flicks but last week I unleashed an ear splitting, blood curdling shriek.  My computer froze.

I stared at the screen in thorough disbelief and rapidly pounded every button on the keyboard in frantic desperation.  I crawled beneath my desk and hit the power bar switch.  I waited ten seconds but it felt more like ten years.  I went to sit up and banged my head with a curse.  The computer whirred to life and my capillaries burst with blood when my eyes beheld the following sentence, `Warning!  Hard disk failure imminent.  Back up immediately!’

I raced into action!  My hands trembled as I ripped open my desk drawers frenetically trying to find some discs.  It was a race of man versus machine.  I managed to back up important files and moments later the hard drive drove itself into the ground.

There was sadness as I unplugged the web of cords.  I lugged the tower to the elevator and cradled it like a sick pet.  Naturally, this happened close to rush hour and I impatiently waited in a line of cars.  I caught myself glancing at the tower on the passenger seat as if I was checking to make sure it was okay.  When did humanity become so attached and dependent upon these gadgets?

I finally reached the computer place and told the man what had happened.  I asked if the hard drive could be saved.  He responded he wasn’t sure and that the surgery would take at least a day.  I felt stupid for I wanted a definitive answer right then and there.  I skulked back to my vehicle and went home.

Sitting in my living room, I suddenly realized that computers have taken over our collective lives.  I rarely watch television but I turned it on only to discover what I’ve known for years- there is nothing worth watching.  I decided I should read a new book but didn’t have one.  I wandered into my office.  The reassuring hum of the computer was patently absent and the room felt cold and empty.

I continued down the hall and looked in the other rooms.  I’m not sure exactly what I expected to find but I knew there was a sense of loss.  I couldn’t work because I needed the computer and I couldn’t surf the net for the same reason.  Therefore, I did what our ancestors used to do.  I sat and pondered everything about my life.

After a few hours of pretending like I had spent some quality time with myself I resumed wandering the condominium.  I would frequently check on my office for no good reason.  It’s not like the computer would suddenly be there.  My mood was foul and I figured I would go to bed.

I tossed and turned and nary was a peep of sleep had when I got up the following morning.  I poured my coffee and found myself getting angrier over the computer.  I had so much work to do on that machine but I was helpless.  I called the computer guy but he was still working on the problem.

Furious, I turned on the television and my heart sank.  The tragedy in Ottawa was just unfolding.  In that moment I felt embarrassed and a little ashamed that I had sulked over a piece of metal when a young man’s life had been taken.  I was glued to the television screen as the heart-breaking details emerged.

Late in the afternoon, right around rush hour, I received a call from the computer guy.  The machine was ready with a new hard drive.  I gathered my keys and took my time.

In heavy traffic I noticed cars, people and buildings that I always pass but for some reason it all looked different.  I wasn’t in my usual hurry.  I found I had remarkable patience.

Such is life that we all take for granted what we consider priorities but when those same priorities are placed in the light of what is really important, we are awakened to our parochial self-interests.  Why is that it takes a national tragedy for us to stop and smell the roses as it were?  Why are we prone to be friendlier and more respectful of one another after events that shake us to our very core?

The seeds of kindness, sympathy, empathy and humanity are inside all of us.  Perhaps we should germinate those seeds on a daily basis.  It would be a better world.  Oh, and as for the computer, I hooked it up and then left it alone.  It just doesn’t seem that important anymore.

Ben Guyatt

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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