I had to do it

By Vicki Todd

It's the landscaper's fault that I lost a week of my life being a slave to technology. I had a little extra money and thought we would spruce up the front yard and plant a few bushes. When I first met with the landscaper, my intuition said to talk about my budget, but when I tried, he kept waving his arms over his head and saying, "No, don't tell me. We'll make it work."

The first sign of trouble was when the landscaper asked to stop by so he could present me with his "new design" and give me a quote. It's not a good sign when they can't tell you the cost on the phone. A week later, he pulls up in my driveway in his new shiny red Chevy pick-up with his assistant. Who needs an assistant to give a quote for a new hedge? I was wondering what he was holding in his hand. It looked like a blueprint. He needs blueprints to plant a hedge?

We exchanged pleasantries and I invited him in. He began his presentation with the "great wall" not just any wall, but a beautiful, custom stone wall to match our house. I sat puzzled, wondering when I ever mentioned wanting a stone wall. Over the next hour, I listened to his proposal, waiting for the kicker, the price. After an agonizing hour viewing a front yard fit for a queen, he finally began to wrap-up with the bottom line: $40,000 for bushes; which, of course, is only an estimate. That does not include permits, or taxes. I didn't flinch. I thanked him and his assistant and told them I had to talk to my husband and would get back to them. As they pulled away in the new shiny red truck (now I know how he has a new truck), I went inside pondering the thought of all the things I could do with $40,000, and bushes and a stone wall were not one of them.

Now I had a new problem: What would I do with the $2000 I had set away for landscaping? Of course--I can now buy a new computer! I began daydreaming of a super-sleek, wireless system, new software, and high-speed! I could hardly contain myself. Would Brad agree? I lay the landscaping proposal on the kitchen table for him to see when he came home that night. I knew it would give him a heart attack and he would just say "f____ that!" and tomorrow I could plant the seed of buying a new computer.

He arrived home late, walked over to the table, took one look at the "hedge proposal" and started laughing so loud he woke the kids up. We chatted about it for a few minutes and I told him I would take care of letting the landscaper down. Then I worked into the conversation how my three-year-old computer had a brain of its own. It had started flashing and freezing up, the pointer turned from an arrow into a box and programs would start up by themselves. On his way out the door in the morning he said:

"Why don't you get a new computer with the money?"

"Yes, I think that's a good idea."

The next words I heard were: "What can I build for you today?"

For the next hour, the Dell technician and I built the computer of my dreams; everything I had ever wanted. The delivery would take a week. For seven days I waited patiently for the UPS truck. Finally, the man in brown shorts arrived, with three boxes in hand. I ripped open the packaging and laid out all the cords (Hey, why all these cords? I thought this stuff was wireless!), software and directions. From that moment, I lost a week of my life.

For one week I struggled with USB and Ethernet ports, wireless network cards, home networking, broadband routers, file transferring. I refused to answer the phone or leave the house until I was up and running. My friends began to worry, "Where's Vicki? Have you seen her? Is she OK?" I neglected my children's needs for one more try with my incompatible router. They ate PBJ for three nights in a row. The school called because Lillian had fallen and scraped her knee and thought she wanted to come home. I ignored the phone so I could register my new software! If the school only knew! (She was fine!) I called Sherri in a panic to tell her I couldn't possibly write a column this week, I could only concentrate on learning my Windows XP. Being the good friend that she is, she came to my rescue and covered for me. She lives with a tech head and knows the importance of having everything working.

So where am I now? I'm up and running, but not without pain. My office area is a huge mess of old and new software, one obsolete computer, so many cords I can't count that high, three printers, two scanners, fax, a phone that doesn't work, and lots of "how to" booklets. I may never go up there again, I just can't face it. The good news is my new notebook works (yes, even without wires!). I pray I don't have to lose another week of my life to technology for at least another three years!

© 2003 Vicki Todd and The Rebel Housewife, LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

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