Sunday, April 3, 2011

When All Appears Lost....

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that, in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight."Kahlil Gibran

This past week, I suffered a professional tragedy that I hope few of you will ever experience. While en route to a meeting, a portable water thermos snugly packed in my briefcase gave my beloved MacBook Pro a bath. When I opened my briefcase at the meeting, my laptop emerged glistening with reverse-osmosis-filtered water. My professional associates gathered around the dripping silver remains, offering words of comfort. One of them gave me the name of a man—who hereafter shall be referred to as the Data Retrieval God—to see if the entirety of my business could be saved.

There were also some quiet yet tasteful suggestions regarding online backup systems and additional hard-drive backups I might want to consider for the future.

I called the Data Retrieval God at 6 p.m. I wanted to find out if there were any data that survived the onslaught of my carelessness. A chipper (automated) British voice answered the phone and I left a pathetic message of woe. To my surprise, about 20 minutes later, the phone rang and it was He. I offered to drive wherever he might be if he would just look at my damp computer. I had no idea where he lived or worked, so this was a gallant and desperate gesture on my part.

He lived 25 miles away and if I wanted to come over that evening, it was fine with him. I put on my coat within milliseconds after hanging up the phone. It was a dark, rainy night with a new moon and my night vision is extremely poor—such was my determination to learn if my business data were alive or no more. The computer, itself, would not start and was surely in a coma, if not dead.

"For some moments in life there are no words."David Seltzer, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

A half hour later, I stood on the threshold of the Data Retrieval God's door and rang the bell. A tall Englishman answered the door. I thanked him for seeing me with so little notice. He smiled knowingly. He had seen many a feckless laptop user humbled in his presence. Within five minutes, he had the machine completely stripped down with the guts of my computer resting in an electronic life-support device that extracts data. Like a skilled surgeon, he displayed the beating heart of my data on his diagnostic computer screen. I sat in hushed awe. All was not lost.

My newly beloved MacBook Pro.
Someday, my Apple laptop might dry up again and work. In the meantime, I had projects to finish for clients so I had no choice but to transplant my living data into a new MacBook Pro. Those of you who are techies are probably thinking, “Oh gee, you HAD to buy the latest version of the most exquisite machine known to computing.” I don’t deny the worldly pleasures of a new and updated Mac. However, having just bought a $7000 boiler for my house, this was not the ideal time to go frolicking into my bank account for this purchase.

So what have I learned from this unfortunate and expensive experience? There are Data Retrieval Gods in this world who wield the power to reanimate the data of dead computers. DropBox and Carbonite are the holy altars of data backup. And most importantly, it is better to die of thirst than to pack a container of liquid with a laptop.


  1. In the moment, days like that last an eternity. Glad to hear there was salvation.

  2. Thank you. It was the comfort and sympathy of friends like you that got me through that brief and painful experience.

  3. Don't you hate it when that happens? Love the way you capitalized "He". It cracked me up.

  4. sorry that never happen to me haha but well i have suffered other accidents in public, I used to study medicine and i had a bisturi in my bag and in a move of the bus the sharp piece of shit went through the bad and stab me in my thigh......