I never intended to name my computer, but somehow I ended up calling it Maxine. For several weeks now Maxine been slow and cranky, almost spitting at me sometimes when I asked her to retrieve something. If I made multiple demands on her, she would crash to show me who was boss. Since my technological talents are roughly equivalent to those of a chigger, I put up with her moods with only a minimal of words not fit for print.
But then last night as I was leaving my office, she began making a loud and alarming whirring noise. I responded like a concerned mother, tapping keys to bring her face back up, but she wouldn’t speak to me. The whirring noise kept up, and when I tried to shut her down, nothing happened. Couldn’t Force Quit, couldn’t do anything to stop what sounded like a death rattle. Couldn’t even use the Power button to turn the whole system off. So I pulled Maxine’s plug. I felt bad about doing it, but she was obviously in pain and I couldn’t stand to see her suffer.
I called my wonderful Mac technician who promised to come take her to the hospital. To tell the truth, I didn’t expect her to come home alive. I was pretty sure I’d have to replace her, and I felt sad about losing my partner in a lot of projects. When the Mac tech came, he was respectfully solemn, and I watched anxiously as he plugged her back in. She came up smiling like she’d never been sick a day in her life. I felt the way I used to feel when I took my kids to the pediatrician and the little darlings who had been feverish and throwing up just hours before would be the picture of health the minute they saw the doctor. The Mac guy ran diagnostics, opened programs, tappy-tapped away, and Maxine cooperated like an angel.
I was flabbergasted and a little embarrassed, but he didn’t seem surprised. He’s probably used to computers who play sick to get attention. I paid him and he left with a promise to come back if I had any more problems. I’ve decided that I’d been working Maxine too hard. Probably she just needed a long nap. She’s been a partner in writing five or six books, creating a web site and a blog, sending zillions of emails, gathering gobs of information from the Web, and doing all kinds of secretarial work. That’s enough to stress out any system. I think in the future I’ll unplug her every few weeks and let her have a long sleep. I’m sure it’s my imagination, but I swear she’s a lot friskier and more responsive now. I’ve learned my lesson: I’ll never take Maxine for granted again.