Minimum Underdrive

technorageI am doing wall sits. There are no words to convey how much I loathe this activity, but I am doing them. I am sweaty and angry, trying to come to grips with the fact that I am now a guy who does wall sits in his bedroom on a Wednesday morning. I am guided by the voice of my computer, who ticks away the eternal time for which this terrible exercise must be executed. Then it’ll be on to the next terrible exercise and then the next.

I suddenly realize that I have been doing wall sits for far longer than the allotted 30 seconds and I finally glance at the screen to see that she is ticking through my 10 second break.

I am furious.

I scramble over the bed and throw my face on the floor in order to do the pushups that the computer is just now ticking away at, telling me in her mocking way that I am behind on my exercises. I am now thrown off and every exercise becomes more difficult because of my frantic attempt to breathe, keep up, and be angry all at the same time.

I look up at the computer, and she mocks from her perch in the armchair, mouth agape, smiling. She knows.

My inability to relate and get along with my technological devices has long been lore amongst my friends, colleagues, family, and those living in the Podolí area. I am often (violently) trying to get computers to respond to my commands, figure out how to make my mobile take calls in my flat, and shushing my tablet during classes. So, the fact that technology is playing Brutus meets Caesar in front of the Roman senate is not terribly conspicuous.

Still, it’s been a heavy week.

All of my technology has decided to crap out on me this week. Aside from the workout program messing with me, my Kindle and Mp3 players have wiped themselves clean. It’s as though they are – finally – openly judging my choices in literature and music.

My first instinct in these cases would be to take a full-on irrational rage approach to it all. Perhaps scream and yell, probably throw a physical fit that the technology in question and my downstairs neighbor would not soon forget.

But I’m trying to turn over a new techno-leaf.

The computer mocks me and when I finish my workout I walk over to her and pat her on her solid rectangular head. I speak in soothing terms to her and tell her that I don’t blame her for this morning’s little gaff. I hate everything about this and the computer sets off a lot of heat, radiating her consternation at my calmness.

See, it’s an old friend who has this idea that technology has a heart and feelings. Just like you and me, dogs and cats, Rush Limb…well, you and me and dogs and cats. In any event, her thesis is that if you treat technology badly, its feelings get hurt. And while I don’t buy into this altogether, I would like to minimize the position that rage occasionally has in my life. And technology is a common focal point of that rage.

To answer your question: yes, I feel stupid petting a laptop. But I guess I’d feel – read: have felt – just as stupid strangling my Kindle and laptop as though they were boxy jerks.

Despite my soothing demeanor, technology – it seems – has it in for me this week. My work computer goes through her morning boot up as a 90 year-old man might an obstacle course. I clench my jaws and go to town, petting and kissing the computer on her gray plastic dome.

My colleagues give me the looks appropriate for when someone is kissing their computer, and I assure them through gritted teeth that I have not lost my mind. Their willing suspension of disbelief dangles in the air like a curtain of smoke in a pub. I hold out my rage until the IT guy comes to speak his own soothing message to the old gray girl.

I am proud of myself as I unlock the door to my flat. Technology has pushed me around all week and I have somehow managed to keep my cool. Despite that, my teeth hurt from gritting and I think I am close to apoplexy. I decide to take a nap with no technology in sight.

I remove every bit of technology from my bedroom – phones, tablet, laptop, flashdrives – and put them in the living room. I close the door and lie on the bed for an hour nap, I’ll let myself wake up naturally. Nothing can get me here. My jaw unclenches and I feel at one with my cushions.

And then my alarm clock goes off.

Son of a bitch.

You win technology.

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