For nearly a month I’ve had a watch problem. It all began when my reliable solar wrist watch stopped abruptly, and nothing short of mouth-to-mouth could revive it. Now, after some dozen jeweler visits with other watches that gulp down a new battery, submit to a cleaning, then fail to run longer than a day-and-a-half, the “watch thing” is playing games with my head. I talk about it constantly.
Two days ago, in the midst of all this, the computer also failed. Like other non-techies, I have a love-hate relationship with my computer. When it works I adore it. When the thing fails, I’m ready to do what a few men have done to their televisions—take a pistol and shoot it in the heart.
That morning my e-mail messages refused to “come out” or “come down” or “show up” --whatever they do. Even tapping the send/receive button like a telegraph key tapping out the Morse Code produced nothing. Since the machine was working the night before, I gave it a few hours to rest. Finally in desperation I began calling people. The wonderful man who set up my web sites. My web server. I was ready to call Bill Gates, but I’d run out of time. Anyway, I hoped the mule might yet come around.
That night, at 9:30, in desperation I called Cox. To my amazement, an actual person answered the phone. Graciously, he put me through enough routines to operate a nuclear plant, but produced nothing useful on my screen.
At last he said, “You know, we don’t actually support Microsoft Outlook.” By then he’d given me a new e-mail password, and a few keys to a secret kingdom of Cox e-mails that I never knew existed. Not a great site, but okay as a fallback for the truly desperate. “Guess you’ll have to call Microsoft.”
“But Microsoft charges,” I said. “They cost a bundle.” I heard the equivalent of a telephone sigh. “Best I can do.”
We signed off and I looked down at my newly-repaired watch. It was still 9:30. I stared at the face, at the non-moving second hand. Suddenly I realized it had been 9:30 for quite a few hours.
A creepy feeling came over me and I began thinking Twilight Zone. The computer was down. My just-fixed watch was down. Was I dead and didn’t know it?
Could I even walk away from here? I pinched my leg and took a deep breath and was relieved to feel them both. Still . . . my computer stopped. My watch stopped. Would my heart stop too?
I was actually afraid to go to bed. Gotta stay awake and keep breathing.
Downstairs, Rob heard the story over and over, until he finally said, “I’ve heard it three times, Babe. That’s enough. Let’s go to bed. It’s one in the morning.”
I was thinking, “How do we know it’s one? My watch has been ticking perfectly for three days. It says 9:30.”
I opened my mouth, but he gave me THE LOOK.
Next day, instead of paying a ransom to Microsoft, I called Cox again—for a lady tech’s long and useless session, until finally she said as an afterthought, “You might try turning it off and back on.” I did. And the computer worked.
Back at the jewelers, the man took out the latest battery and found it dead. We talked Twilight Zone. As he installed yet another battery, he said, “This really does smack of voodoo.”
And indeed it does. Because this morning that watch is once again dead.