Messages from the gods

Writing Challenge
For this week’s writing challenge, shake the dust off something — a clothing item, a post draft, a toy — you haven’t touched in ages, but can’t bring yourself to throw away.

Do you ever get the feeling the Universe is trying to tell you something? That gentle nudge in the psyche – or the hip pocket – or the general metabolism, that says Wrong Way, Go Back? Or the less gentle boot in the backside that says Stop! No through traffic

I’ve already related my run-in with Mercury retrograde – the sad death of my printer and my microwave – but Mercury is now bopping along in the right direction, so I thought the worst was over. Oh silly me!

Last Friday, my email server rejected me. Yes, I know rejection is one of those nasty facts of life we must all learn to deal with sooner or later, but it really is scraping the bottom of the barrel when your technology calls you an imposter: when something that’s been recognising you for years blows a virtual raspberry and says piss off. It’s rather like clapping eyes on a policeman: you do a quick sashay through your sins of omission and commission, and even if you come up empty, you’re pretty sure it’s you he’s heading for, probably with a warrant. But even if I had grievously offended my email, I didn’t know how. I rang my ISP to find out.

Several hours later, I had an answer. Not the answer I wanted – a quick fix, even if it did involve a rap over the knuckles – but an answer, nonetheless. For reasons unknown to us all, a Windows update had managed to scramble communication between me and my email. Even more mysteriously, it took three days to fix. Not that I was going to complain. It was back. I was happy.


Two days later, another Windows update told me to restart my computer. It went off just fine. Ding, ping, black screen…black screen…don’t panic…black screen… This time, I called the computer company. More hours on the phone, following the sorts of instructions the young take in their stride and the old find migraine-inducing, and again, I was back online. Sigh of relief.



Last night, half my usual TV channels were gone. Ah, the digital switchover. Take the remote, press Menu, go to Tuning and follow the prompts. Oh yeah? My Menu offered nothing resembling Tuning. The woman on the Helpline was delightful. We finally found an option under a button marked Settings, chatted while the TV did its thing, and all was well.

Or not.

Contrary to expectation, the DVD recorder remained stubbornly mute. Another call, this time a gentleman, equally helpful. This time, the option was under the button marked Home. This time, we chatted about the length of his shift, the complications sent to try his patience, and the general inadequacy of the online instructions. I now have both appliances working – although there’s more work to be done on the transmitter, so who knows what tomorrow will bring?

So with three hits in a week, I have to ask myself whether I’m the leftover. I didn’t see television until I was 20; didn’t get my hands on a word processor until I was 45. A mobile phone and the internet? Almost 60. Given all that, I’m not doing too badly. BUT… Has my late start left me trailing behind amid the detritus collecting dust in the virtual attic? Is this a sign that says Move over, you’re clogging the information superhighway? Or if you combine it with our government’s intention to reduce my income, is it something more serious? Like


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9 Responses to Messages from the gods

  1. This is a great piece! And just a wee bit terrifying. Love how you engage with the customer services reps.

  2. All the techs I talk to are in Mumbai, India and English is their third language after TechnoTalk, which got them the job we sent over there.

  3. Pat says:

    Well I’m sorry to hear that it was such a pain in the butt — but I’m glad that you’re back. And no, I don’t think you should take it personally, because as much of a latecomer to the techno world that you are, I have found that when the crap starts flowing, it just runs a river. Usually the onscreen online techie manuals are outdated anyhow – they tend to be a one size fits all – but as soon as they are printed, they are out of date …. so much for keeping up with the Jones, as it were.

    Besides, throw a thumb on your nose at the techno Gods, whilst then turning and plying them with a prayer or two, for good measure —- we treasure your words here online Helen!

    Wonderful post!

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