Thursday, January 8, 2015

Infuriating Technology (or, Crisis at the Craft Store) (or, Giselle Needs Professional Help)

by Giselle Renarde

I'm much more patient than I used to be. Much less irritable, too.

But something happened earlier in the week that really set me off: my computer started acting up.  Maybe you can relate.  There's something about electronic devices not doing what they're supposed to do that's absolutely maddening.

I can handle a lot of intense stuff pretty calmly.  I have certification (albeit lapsed) in crisis prevention and intervention. Does that mean I never have out-of-control moments myself? Nope. I had one just a couple days ago. We'll get to that.

Last week I was at Michael's (the craft store) when a man burst through the door screaming and swearing.  Customers RAN from this person, who was obviously in crisis and perhaps has mental health issues.  While he screamed that he'd lost his towel and he was having a very bad day, a staff member asked if she could help him. She spoke clearly and casually, without a hint of fear and without that demeaning therapist voice people sometimes use when they don't know what they're doing.

The man asked for a product the store didn't carry (not a towel, by the way).  The staff member made a suggestion about where he might find it, which inflamed the man because he'd already been there.  He shouted about all the stores he'd visited. Nobody had what he needed.

The staff member listened without rushing him or interrupting. She eventually suggested a store he hadn't tried, and he left without escalation. The situation was handled extremely well. When you're speaking with a person in crisis, things can go really bad really fast. Here, they didn't.

Around the same time, my computer started acting up. Slowing down. Not responding.

Annoying, right?  I'm no expert, but I couldn't figure out what the problem was. I started running scans. Scan after scan after scan.  Nothing seemed to be working. The solutions I implemented to resolve my possible problems only exacerbated them.

I can't remember exactly what set me off.  After five days of getting zero work done because all my energy was going into resolving this issue, I had a bit of a mental health event myself.  The helplessness of not being able to fix my stupid little problem culminated in an explosion of screaming, swearing, crying, rocking, and punching myself in the head (a new one, for me). I'd lost my towel. I was having a very bad day.

It was a true crisis moment, brought on by... computer problems?

When I was a teenager, I remember a teacher trying to warn me off my ex because he'd once kicked the crap out of a photocopier.

There's something about technology.  It brings out my inner rage in a way humans never can.  I used to have a printer that could provoke similar reactions, though never as intense as this event. This was a bad one. I've never hit myself before. That was new and painful and actually pretty scary.

My computer's still not working properly. Mostly, programs randomly choose not to respond for reasons that remain a mystery. When this happens, I get up and walk away and do something else for a minute.  I know I have to take a breath and distract myself or risk another meltdown.

A close friend suggested seeking professional help, meaning an IT person. That made me laugh, because when my girlfriend made that same suggestion she was talking about a healthcare professional.

I think they're both right.


  1. Giselle:
    I think you've given us a new phrase for 'having a bad day'. 'I lost my towel' is so much more Zen-like. After all, if that bad day leads you to good things, was it a bad day? I admit I am sometimes shocked by the ferocity of my anger against inanimate objects, especially electronic ones. I'm too far away from my roots in Psychology to have the right term , no matter. Equally as disturbing is the savage joy I experience when I smash that thing to a million pieces, shouting, "I warned you!"

    "Open the pod bay door, Hal"
    "I'm sorry, Dave, I can't do that"

    1. Spencer, not that new a phrase. As noted below.

  2. Lost his towel? No wonder he was frantic. Any hitchhiker of the galaxy knows how serious that is, at least if they've read Ford Prefect's guide book. (His name wasn't by any chance Arthur Dent, was it?)

    I personally get more frantic about computer problems than just about anything else.

    1. Yes Sacchi I'm a hitchhiker. Thanks for the fish.


  3. Totally understand the pc rage - that's practically a daily occurrence in my apartment!

  4. What universe did I just walk into?

    *slowly creeps away*

  5. Giselle, Hitchhikers' Guide to the Universe (for the never-lose-your-towel meme) with a smattering of 2001: a Space Story for Daisy, Daisy (by Hal the computer.)

    Geesh, youngsters these days!

  6. Oops, Guide to the Galaxy. Geesh, geezers these days!

    1. LOL. Every comment you've posted on this entry is making me laugh, Sacchi.

      Did any of you guys play the Hitchhiker's text adventure? I think that's a marriage of all the themes present here. If anything will make you want to bang your head against the computer, that will. One of the most difficult games I've ever played.

  7. I've hit myself during computer crises, and screamed bloody murder. Mostly when I've stupidly deleted something critical. (It happens more often than it should, given my IQ.)

    In the face of computer crises - mine or his - my husband shows incredible patience. I've never seen him have a tantrum the way I do. He just approaches the whole situation methodically, trying various tacks to see if he can get information about and/or solve the problem.

    Really makes me ashamed of myself.

  8. Giselle, I hope you are getting all the help and support you need, whether tech or otherwise. XOXO

  9. I hope so too. I can so sympathize.


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