My Week in the Stone Age

The Boston University IT Center is new territory for me. I have just placed my laptop down in front of the bored looking guy standing behind the counter. I open it and turn it towards him.

“Is that the coffee I smell?” he asks.

I nod, embarrassed. The previous night, I had knocked over my latte with my elbow, spilling the hot coffee directly into the keyboard. I had attempted to drain the liquid with little success. Conveniently, the only keys that worked were the ones worth more than eight points in the game of Scrabble. Popping off the keys to try and clean the mess underneath was not helpful and neither was trying to convince the serial gamer on the eighth floor to help me remedy the issue. IT was my only viable option.

The IT guy prods the keys.

“Well, the keyboard doesn’t work,” he says.

I thought I had made that clear when I first came in, but I pretend that this was news to me. I look around the room awkwardly as the IT guy continues his investigation. I am looking at a bowl full of lollipops when he looks up and tells me to take one.

“I might as well make this whole situation worth my while,” I joke as I grab one. He does not laugh.

“We need to replace your keyboard. The parts will be here sometime next week. We can fix it here and call you when it’s done,” the IT guy finally says.

I have no choice but to let them fix the computer and prepare myself for a week without a college student’s most essential tool. I am forced to print all of my reading assignments. I observe the girl behind me in the printer line losing her patience as thirty plus pages of a political science article are slowly spat out of the printer.

When I have finished printing, I bring my thick stack of papers with me to the study lounge. When my friends see the cup of coffee in my hand they draw their laptops closer to their bodies. I explain that IT will have my laptop until sometime next week. One friend pities me enough to let me use his laptop for the night under the condition that my beverages stay at least a foot away from it and are in cups with lids. I have used a MacBook about twice in my entire life and struggle to figure out how to open up the internet.

The next day, I walk to the library to try and find a computer to use. I am surprised to see that many of the desks holding the computers are full because people are using the tables to work on their laptops. The desktops sit untouched. Don’t they know that these desktops are for the careless people who spill their lattes, drop their laptops out of car windows, and acquire viruses while trying to get a free download of When Harry Met Sally?

I finally find a desktop that reminds me of the ones I used at my elementary school. The raised keys and solid gray taskbar scream early 2000s. I have been transported back to the time of pagers, frosted lipsticks, and heely sneakers. I am in the Stone Age.

For the next week, I live in the library. I study sitting in a cold, hard, plastic chair that hurts my soul as much as it hurts my butt. I usually work with a group so the isolation of my computer cubicle drives me insane. The war propaganda posters from WWI that are plastered from floor to ceiling on the back wall of Mugar are so distracting and convincing that I am briefly determined to buy war bonds.

Just as I am reaching the end of my rope, the email from IT comes. As soon as I finish reading that my laptop is fixed I am out the door and on the way to west campus. After picking up the computer I am in such high spirits that I buy a coffee. A coffee with a lid on it.

We are so used to the convenience of technology, we often forgot how difficult life can be without it. I was not even completely separated from the technological world and still had to put more effort into finding a way to complete basic assignments. I now know not to take the ease with which I can write a paper and research topics for granted. 


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