I do understand that the machines in my office aren't alive. Of course, that means they can't be reasoned with, threatened, or coerced. I can't promise my printer an extra treat if it will make that black cartridge last just ten copies longer, or reward my hard drive with a spa day if it will just regurgitate the missing manuscript page.
But I can't help but take it personally when they refuse to cooperate. Since I am machine-stupid, this happens far more often than I want. Recently, my computer refused to recognize my keyboard. This meant I could type all I wanted, but it wouldn't appear on the screen . . . a guarantee of a low production day.
I bought a new keyboard, not an instant process since I always use a Logitech ergonomic keyboard. Sure my problems were solved and that harmony would reign in my home office, I introduced the new keyboard to the grouchy old computer. It still refused to admit that the keyboard -- brand spanking new! -- was there. It was like the old dog spurning the new puppy.
I had to leave town, so my husband kindly offered to work on the situation while I was gone. Since I am an optimist, I went to Mississippi blithely sure that by the time I returned we would be one big happy family again. Of course . . . not so. At the end of a trip that included food poisoning and cancelled flights, Hal let me know that the old computer had to go to the hospital -- um, the repair shop. Sadly, the patient was terminal, and could not be resuscitated.
I know these machines (or infernal devices, as I call them some days) are really just mechanical parts, mass produced, but since these are the tools I use to ply my trade, I take them very personally. I confess, I was so angry at Old Computer that I haven't grieved a moment. I know . . . ungrateful of me.
Now I have a shiny new computer sitting in front of me. It has to learn my ways, and it has to be best friends with the keyboard and the printer. I'm introducing them to each other slowly. I haven't had to threaten anyone with unplugging, yet, but it's early days. Each night I whisper, "Play nice!"