The door to the office closed and I immediately went into a cold sweat and got the shakes. Something wasn't right. I looked around the familiar surroundings checking off a mental laundry list. Check, check, check? it hit me. I had forgotten it. It was the first time in a year and a half of our beautiful symbiotic relationship. My laptop.
Panic struck. Could I make it through the day? Sure, there are other computers in the office. There was the computer the newspaper had specifically set aside for me sitting on its allocated desk. It gave me a sideways glance and sympathized with none of my pain. Mocking me for the cold shoulder I gave it on a daily basis. It scorned me for my only-child-syndrome of having to use my "personal computer" for work matters.
The unofficial corporate term for bearing the burden of personally upgrading your company's technology is a "personal computer." I was labeled a rogue soldier at my last job for this discretion. Where was my praise for initiative? All I got was a harrumph from the IT guy and some free anti-virus software as if I were causing more trouble by not using the company's hardware. The nerve.
Shortly after I got my first laptop I knew I would always have one. Envious of those smirky coffee shop bohemians pining away at their first great novels over a six-dollar latt? I set out to the computer store determined to join their ranks. The newfound joy was also going to be a financial burden. Laptops cost more than their equivalent desktop counterparts but are also worth every last penny, I rationalized. I had sold my desktop to a friend and I forked over the difference. I haven't looked back since.
We've all pondered the sweeping conclusions of the "two kinds of people in this world?" generalizations. I say with-laptops-and-without is as good as any. Computer users love what they can do but they don't all take it with them.
Luddites can lambaste mobile technology from sunset in England until sunrise in Japan. They know not the advantages of keeping all your digital debris in tow to any spot on the globe. My laptop was the first thing I packed on my last vacation. Was I hopelessly tied to it, unable to give up the Internet for even a week? No, I was able to send friends and family updates and photos from the trip. Digital postcards, if you will, with photos that I took that day! Can you dispute the greatness of that?
On an everyday level the merits of a laptop reveal themselves with even more clarity. It's not about having an expensive plastic liability in your trunk. It's about what's on your laptop that matters. Professional and personal contact information, photos of friends, my photography portfolio and r?sum?, Internet access, a program that emulates the original Nintendo system so I can play all the games I wanted when I was five years old? the list goes on and on and I have it with me wherever I go. Does it get any better?
The morning of that fateful day passed slowly until the moment I realized there was an assignment for me near my apartment. I could get my precious! Letting out a sigh of relief I banged out a few keystrokes on the work computer. I sneered at it gleefully. The world would be set on its right side by mid-afternoon.
Later that day I thought of those who are tied to their desks, shackled to work computers and home desktops. A tear fell and pooled on the laptop's touchpad. I want to reach out and bestow the message of portable computing to the masses. I want to enlighten those imprisoned by bulky boxes and heavy monitors. To one and all: take part in the greatness that advanced civilizations have toiled up in research laboratories and factories for you! Just don't forget to grab it on your way out the door.
Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org