Friday, January 21, 2005

Open Case Surgery

Nothing makes me queasier than watching my husband hover over my open computer with a screwdriver in hand. Just the thought of him removing the tiny screws from the casing gives me the willies.

Now, I’m not a faint-hearted female that drops at the sight of a needle or a bloody nose. I’ve given birth to three children and had my share of cuts, bumps, bruises, and trips to the emergency room. Heck, I can even watch real surgeries on the Health Network channel while eating dinner and I don’t bat an eye. But get me in view of my open computer and I go into a tizzy.

The words I dread the most haunt my nightmares. “I gotta open it up.” My heart pounds; my palms sweat. I can’t sit still. That one little statement can cause me to fret and fume for hours. My brain ceases to function. All I can think about is what could go wrong. Even undergoing surgery to remove suspected cancer tumors didn’t leave me as fearful as the horrible images I was envisioning during a simple network card swap out. Dread nestled deep into my bones. What if my beloved computer didn’t boot up again when I turned it back on? What if I lost important; unrecoverable story ideas? What if I lost my setup files? How would I remember all my favorite settings?

The first time I saw the insides of my baby I didn’t think it was going to be so bad. Shoot, I’ve opened other people’s computers up lots of times to replace a floppy drive, add hard drives, or swap out a network card. No big deal, right? Wrong. Not when it’s your own baby that is lying on its side, case off, cables drooping. There’s just something that wraps its gnarled claws around your heart and squeezes tight when it’s your own baby.

After several unhappy episodes, my husband has learned to give me fair warning when he needs to perform open-case surgery on my PC. We’ve learned the hard way that it’s just better if I don’t watch. I have to leave the room or else I’m a nervous wreck, worse than any expectant father pacing a too-short waiting room.

No matter how many times my husband reassured me, I still wouldn’t rest easy until I saw for myself. I’d hover anxiously over my husband’s shoulder peppering him with questions. “What are you doing?”

“I told you. I’m giving you more hard drive space.”

“Ok, but what are you doing?” I didn’t like the look of those pliers dear husband held in his hands.

“Sheesh. Will you get off my back?” He meant this literally.

I backed up a couple of steps, removing my death grip from his shoulders. “Why isn’t that cable connected?”

“What cable? Darn.” He dropped a screw.

“Don’t you need that?”

“Not right now, I don’t.”

“Want me to get it for you?” Eager to help my husband, I was already reaching in to pluck the little screw from the bottom of the case.

“No! Get back.” He pulled his hand out of the innards of my computer, a large flat box in his hand, dragging cables and wires like entrails.

“Oh.” I eyed the excised box. I didn’t feel so good. “Is that supposed to look like that?”

“What? It’s just a hard drive. Don’t lean on me, I need room.”

I backed up again. Spoilsport. I only wanted to see. “What did you do with my files?”

“What files?”

“What do you mean, ‘what files’?” Panic set in. “The files on that drive you just took out of the computer?”

“I moved them to another drive. Hey, don’t touch that.”

I had been stroking the brightly colored cable dangling from the inside of the case. I thought if I made contact, my baby would understand somehow that I was still there. “Um, what drive?” I peered into the empty cavity of the case trying to find the other hard drive.”

“Not in there. On the server.” He wedged his hip in between me and the table, trying to get back to work. “You mind?”

“Are you finished?” I was anxious to get my computer back together.

“No, I have to put the new drive in if you’ll let me.” My husband’s attempt at dry humor. I wasn’t amused.

“Alright. Here, do you need this?” I handed him a flathead screwdriver.

“Do you want to do this yourself?”

Uh oh. Threats. “When are you going to be done?”


I didn’t like the sound of that. “Depends on what?”

”Depends on if you leave me alone to finish the job.”

I took the not so subtle hint. I was relegated to the hallway outside the office. Under penalty of undisclosed torture I wasn’t allowed back into the office until my husband was finished.

I paced. I fretted. I offered encouraging words. To my computer.

I kept my distance but peered around the corner of the doorjamb as far as I could. I studied his hands, watching every movement. He reached for the case covering. “Are you done?” I called out.

“Just about.”

My feet did a little happy dance. “How much longer?” Already I was thinking about all the extra space I’d have with the bigger hard drive to save the hundreds of websites I know I’ll want to review some day, download more games –er, research material, and copy all those cool free animated graphics to add to my own website some day.

“A few minutes.” Now, if you know my husband, a ‘few minutes’ means anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Disappointed, I paced. And, I fretted. And I called out words of encouragement. To my computer.

Finally, I was allowed back into the office. Only after I promised to sit in my chair away from the desk and not touch anything.

I promised.

One screw, then another, then another went back in place at each little hole in the casing. I watched as dear husband searched from side to side. “What are you looking for?”

“Another screw.”

“Oh, was that the one that you dropped earlier?”

If looks could kill I’d probably be six feet under right now.

“Ummm, I mean, didn’t a screw jump out of your hand earlier?” Whew. I think I glossed over that snafu nicely.

After sending another nasty look my way, dear husband fumbled about; albeit unsuccessfully to retrieve the little screw from the depths of the computer. “I have some spares, I’ll fix it later.”

“What do you mean later?” I was shocked. How could he put my baby back together without all its screws?

He lifted the computer from the desk. The screw scraped ominously along the bottom as it rolled.

I opened my mouth.

“Don’t say a word.”

I shut my mouth.

I patted my computer. “Don’t worry,” I whispered to my baby. “Even I didn’t get put back together with all my parts when I had surgery.”

I looked up just in time to catch my husband rolling his eyes.

We’ve finally worked out a system when it comes to computer upgrades and repair. If I hear the words, “Are you going to need your computer today?” I go shopping. For a long time. And I call before I come home.

His job? To make sure all evidence is cleaned up before I get home. Oh, and that my computer still works.

The perfect arrangement.


Camellia said...

Hey...I made it. so now I can dialog. First...I got a lot of html stuff. but even so, this is soooo funny. Hey...the last tornado warning, I put my little laptop in the safe place against an inside wall before going out to watch the storm. Camellia

Donna J. Shepherd said...

LOL! Good name for it - open case. Very imaginative!

Patricia said...

I loved this Vicki! And how true. Fortunately my husband is computer illiterate, but I could relate with other household appliances. I'd almost rather not mention when something breaks down because my husband has never heard of the yellow pages and the words, plumber, electrician, carpenter. But he's got a tool box already to go.

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