Mind Bicycles

Two computers sit on a desk in a dark room, lit only by a small lamp on the table.
Steve Jobs once said a personal computer was like a bicycle for the mind. No, really. He did.

My day job is computer support, which sounds complicated and possibly stressful. Wait, maybe I shouldn’t be assuming what it sounds like to you, my dear reader. I welcome your thoughts on what you think of when you hear someone say something like, “I do computer support for a living.” Is it based on TV or movies, where a young (or old) hoodie-wearing man, either impossibly thin or impossibly large sits in a darkened room, stares at a glowing computer screen, types out seemingly-random letters, and whispers

“I’m in.”

Is that what you’re thinking?

OK, sometimes it’s like that. I mean, my co-worker and I do prefer to keep our office very dark, with the blinds closed. Mostly that’s because she gets migraines. I just like it dark most of the time. And this morning, when I got in to the office, I had to try to troubleshoot a wireless access point across town remotely, with the help of another co-worker I was chatting with on Slack; so to anyone watching me, it looked like I was staring at a computer screen, in the dark, and typing random things on a screen, and cursing under my breath.

Oh, and yes, I was wearing a hoodie today. It gets cold in the office. I did have a collared shirt on under the hoodie (that’s the dress code, the entire dress code: “must wear a collared shirt.” It’s a somewhat relaxed dress code.)

But that was not what I ended up doing to fix the wifi. Well, it was the start of it. I had to configure a replacement access point, and then I had to drive across town to the fleet maintenance yard, climb up on a ladder, and swap the broken wifi with a new one. If you’re wondering, yes, I got my hands dirty. Also I ended up going up and down that stupid ladder, because it didn’t work right at first, and I kept having to go to a computer in the fleet manager’s office, where I remoted back to the server—oh gods, yes, I was typing random things into multiple windows on a computer screen while wearing a hoodie.

Of course, I whisper, “I’m in!” when I connect to something on the computer. I started doing it ironically at first, because Hollywood, and now I do it automatically.

I’m a godsdamned cliche. Fuck.

OK, but later in the day, I had to sit in a city-owned car for several hours, killing time while the in-car hard drive formatted itself into oblivion. I was mad at myself the entire time, more and more as it went on and on, because I chose “Full Format” instead of “Quick Format,” thinking that would fix the problem it was having. It did not solve the problem, and it remains not-solved.

Not-solved problems are a burr under my saddle, a constant low-level irritation. It’s why I do this job; I live for the happiness I feel when I can say, “I solved this!” and it works again. That’s my motivation. If I’m honest, I realize that the annoyance that things breaking gives me is required; before I can feel satisfaction, I have to have that motivating impact of stress. If things did not break, I could not do my job.

Thanks, computer makers, for making things that break a lot. Without you, I would have to find some other labor I could trade for housing, food, and health care!