My computer crashed circa two weeks ago. It chose quite a quitting time. I was just about to fire off a furious, pre-bedtime condemnation (of someone I can’t stand who had just pissed me off earlier that day) in my very personal journal. Midway through sentence #2, all of my system’s programs shut down, which was followed by an infernal beeping sound every time I tried to turn the machine back on. I had to finish composing my latest statement of disapproval by hand on some nearby scratch paper - which wasn’t the same.
This computer (the Dell from Hell) had always been a weakling and it started acting up with a particular vengeance a few months ago, so I figured the end was near. But I thought I had at least another six months or so. For weeks, it had suddenly been performing beautifully – better than ever. This is supposed to be the M.O. of many suicides – they tend to be on their best behavior and outwardly show signs of improvement right before they know they’re about to take their final bow.
When most people’s computers crash, there are sob/horror stories about losing files and years of work. No stranger to worst-case scenarios, I always back up my material. So the only real hardship that came with not having a home computer for a couple of weeks was dealing with Fed Ex.
I ordered a new computer soon after the crash and Fed Ex initially attempted to deliver it in the middle of a work day when I wasn’t home. I don’t have a doorman and the only reason I would ever want one is for situations like these. I called Fed Ex to schedule a later-in-the-day time frame for the next delivery attempt (and they assured me that this could easily be arranged and readily honored). Long story short, Fed Ex spent the next two days continuing to show up during business hours, culminating in the package being sent to and stored at a facility in Brooklyn.
(Please see my last posting about why I didn’t leave a note on my building’s front door, asking Fed Ex to leave the package with my Super. This guy has already lost my spare apartment key and one of my spare mailbox keys. I wasn’t taking any chances of my valuables entering into his temporary custody.)
A couple of days later, I took the subway out to the Fed Ex Ground Center in Brooklyn. It was pouring rain, as it usually is whenever I have something important to do on the outside that I can’t get out of. The person on the phone told me that this outfit was located in the Williamsburg neighborhood. But this wasn’t Williamsburg – not the Williamsburg I know. Just the subway stop was in Williamsburg. This was the kind of place that just had an address – not a neighborhood.
The person on the phone had also persuasively told me that this center wasn’t that long of a walk from the subway stop. When I exited the train station, I asked someone where the Fed Ex center was. He pointed out which direction I should head toward. “You’re going to walk?” he asked, in a tone I hadn’t been expecting. What choice did I have? I had given my limo driver the evening off and there wasn’t a cab in sight.
I’ve never trekked out to visit someone in a medium-security prison complex before, but that’s a little what the walk to Fed Ex felt like. Guarded like an inner-city high school, this was no post office, and I soon understood why there were no cabs around. After I was let in, they all looked at me as if I was the only non-Fed Ex employee to have ever entered the building.
While I waited for one of the wardens to bring me my box, I busied myself with some of the literature on their walls. My favorite poster read something like: “Fed Ex Ground Won’t Put Up with Thieves (small print: whether it’s a pair of shoes or a computer system, stealing is forbidden)”. There was an action shot of one thief who hadn’t been put up with being handcuffed and slowly led away, probably to one of the back rooms of this very facility. I liked knowing that my computer’s safety had been taken seriously wherever they were bringing it out from. They even expertly wrapped my box in a jumbo plastic bag to protect it from the rain on the walk back to Williamsburg.
My new Dell is a doll. The honeymoon period is well underway. Now the post-roving retorts can comfortably resume.
Oliver Sacks Has Left the Building
14 hours ago