Computer Conspiracy

Disabled author describes new challenges with her computer and fantasizes about its power.

            I’ve blogged before about my new laptop and its upgraded software.  Well, I’m taking it for a test drive, so-to-speak in another ten days.  I could give you the number of hours and minutes, too, proving just how nervous I am, how insufficiently competent I feel. 

            I’m fortunate enough to be taking a 6-day writing seminar with the distinguished writer and University of Indiana professor of English, Scott Russell Sanders.  I’ll sport earphones so Perfect Paul, the name of the voice I prefer in my speech program, won’t interrupt Scott or the other participants, all of themTABs, temporarily able-bodied.  Still, with the earphones, my connection seems a little faulty.  So Paul occasionally belches out a phrase or sentence before I can quiet him.  The voice has to blast to reach through the earphones, so my participation in this seminar will not be accompanied by murmuring commentary, but strident bursts like barking dogs.  (Apologies to my German shepherd who rarely barks now, after I zapped her twice with a water pistol—cruel, but effective and recommended by Seeing Eye).

            In my vulnerable moments, I can’t help thinking that this computer with Tourette’s is just one more way technology mocks me, a harmless disabled drudge.  An innocent.

            Recently I made the mistake of setting the printer for an entire manuscript, when I only wanted about five pages.  No matter what keys I pushed or what I tried, the printer spit out page after page of the near 200-page novel.

            “Stop,” I cried to no avail.

            “Help.”  My guide dog appeared and chewed the corner of a random page.

            I tried the Chatham help desk and got a recorded message.  I tried my husband, and he, too, avoided me with a recording.

            When at last the printer had run out of paper, it found some old tissue to use, some discarded Braille pages, and then—no—help!  It had my sleeve.



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