My computer is breaking down and dying.
For years Mr. Zippy and I had been in a long-term relationship spending a lot of quiet nights and busy days together. Long ago after a messy break up Bessie, my primitive
Windows XP beast named after a pleasant but slow-moving cow, Mr. Z moved into my house and left his mark immediately. He was a show off right from the start with his sleek muscular hard drive and a glistening processor. He could fly like an Olympic sprinter on a summer afternoon speeding off the blocks, making this fickle user quickly forget about poky ole’ Bessie.
In his prime Mr. Zippy was a fast and lean monster, strong enough to fight off an attacking virus behind the scenes while still seamlessly performing his other tasks. Quiet and unassuming he rested dedicatedly near my desk just waiting to show off his remarkable quickness and agility when I engaged him.
Even when he grew a little older, putting on a bit of excess data baggage like we all do, his famously fast start-ups only slowed a little. He was just a year younger than my wife’s bright red Inspirion Windows Vista laptop, but was always way less clunky than her. OK, granted, with Vista that did not take much. On a good day my late-1980s rectangular Apple Mac (banana) box could outpace red Ms. Lappy… well, except when it was trying to download a photo from the AOL mail server over a dial-up connection.
At the time both computers served us well but look, sometimes your kid becomes a Harvard grad lawyer and sometimes they spend their life working in the basement oil-draining pit of a Jiffy Lube. You love them both but… Ms. Lappy just did not live up to her potential and my wife got a new laptop a few years ago. But I can’t say much, Ms. L was a mistake that I pressured my wife into. That is why I 100% let her build Mr. Zippy for me and I was not let down.
Mr. Zippy and I spent a lot of time together. He helped me write almost every one of these blog posts the past decade. Unlike most people I know, he listened to my music without complaining about my bizarre tastes. When I break out my pictures he never rushed through them at a faster pace than I wanted to. We have shared an endless amount of hours together watching only the sports and videos I chose; I’d have lost most of my friends if I put those demands on them. Mr. Zippy even showed me a few things that I would be embarrassed to tell my wife about, like do I really want her know I saw a topless photo of Suzanne Somers. Do I really want anyone to know that? It’s a good thing that even in his very weak current state, he can still keep a secret.
Unfortunately, things changed this past year. Mr. Zippy’s sprinting days are long behind him. Just like it takes me longer to get out of bed and ready to go in the morning, his start-ups were taking an eternity. Whereas it used to be by the time I looked up from pushing the ‘on’ button, he would already be working on the second step of firing up windows, the last few months I got in the habit of wandering away to make a cup a coffee or take out the dog while he ran though his computerized preparatory ablutions before being ready for me.
As I have gotten older I have started doing more things to keep myself physically and mentally going. I take vitamins and herbs, use various salves, creams and oils, give myself more time to get tasks done and I take less unnecessary risks like staying out of bad neighborhoods late at night. I tried to do the same for my pal Mr. Zippy. Regularly adding useful software updates, defraging more often, updating his protection from malicious malware, staying off of suspect sites like that one with that scary Suzanne Somers photo (sometimes your imagination is better than reality).
But even with my exaggerated care and patience, all the coddling and babying, Mr. Zippy seems to be zipping no-more. He is not completely flat-lining yet but we are at the point that I am greeted by the blue screen of death more often than not. Oh he valiantly tries to run without collapsing but I feel cruel and sad whenever I push him. The other day I had to unplug Mr. Z after he went into a vicious circle of startups and crashes like a strength-less dying man with futile dreams of getting outside his hospice walls, using his last gasps of life to repeatedly push his way out of the hospital bed only to fall back onto it.
It got ugly for Mr. Zippy about two weeks ago. I mistakenly confused the grinding clicking sound that emitted from his box while his screen stayed completely black as his death knell. After several days of fruitless attempts, I made the assumption that I had lost all my files since my last back-up several months ago. I again started making the usual unkeepable promises to myself that in the future I will faithfully do monthly backups.
Then like a brave wounded soldier using his last gasps of breath to save his buddies, Mr. Zippy briefly sprang back to life for a few short days, giving me enough time to pick his brain, reminisce about all our old times together and save-off everything important to an external hard-drive life support system. Then the other morning he was done. No fanfare, no poof of smoke from the back or last dying words. With the same quiet dignity he had when he was a young RAM-full speedster, he shut down properly one last time and was done. It was back to the constant blue screen crashes.
My wife offered to let me use her current laptop but it just did not feel right. I dug under the sofa in her office and found old red Ms. Lappy. Although a year older then Mr. Zippy and unused for years, she still fired up like she always did. Her Vista is not supported by a lot of websites, she slogs through web pages like a drunken snail, her CD drive still does not work and she is buggy at best when trying to shut down but she worked. Apparently, yet again, the tortoise won the race.
I have had to deal with a lot of sickness and death lately. That stuff plays on your mind and when my computer started actin gup I thought ‘here we go again’. Then I realized Mr. Zippy had taught me something during his last few months. By moving slower he forced me not to rush. To take more breaks and look away from the screen while I waited for him. He was not so slow that I got frustrated but slow enough to give me time to think, to disengage from the screen and step into the real world more. Changing my pace and mindset. Without me knowing it, he helped me to appreciate real life more and to be less attached to him. Time to move from escapism and use those moments to assess the changes in myself as I have aged. Maybe before he got disassembled with his hard drive erased, he knew ‘slow and steady’ was going to win and wanted to show me that was just not so bad.
Thank you Mr. Zippy and rest in pieces.