The Value Of A Day*

8 Jun

My computer died yesterday (you may have noticed there was no post yesterday.  The two things are not unrelated).

Here’s what happens when my computer breaks down:

1) I stare at it blankly.

2) I cross my fingers/ wish I was a wizard and that yelling “reparo” would actually work.

3) I press and hold the power button.

4) I wait anxiously for the restart, praying it works.

At this point, one of two things happens.

5a) Everything works fine, and I feverishly back-up the hard drive before the computer breaks again.


5b) I slump in my chair, defeated once again by a machine.

5b happened this time.

I hate it when 5b happens.

Monday through Friday, from 10 am to 5 pm, I work as a data consultant.  This means I pull data off one website, download more data from another website, and combine all of it into a single document.  It sounds straightforward, but when you’re dealing with two websites and a lot of people with their hands on the data, a lot can go wrong pretty fast.  Overall, it’s interesting work, if sometimes a bit tedious.  The biggest benefit is that I can work from home (ie- pajama pants and fuzzy slippers are totally acceptable).

It’s also an hourly position. As in, I get paid for the hours I work. As in, I don’t get paid for the hours I don’t work.

My computer is dead.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

It’s 1 pm on Friday, and I still haven’t heard from the computer repair shop.  It looks like I’ll be missing another day of work.  I thought I would take the time to explain why missing a day or two of work can be so bad for me.

There’s the obvious financial factor: I miss out on the money.  This is my best-paying job with the most hours, so it makes up the majority of my income.  That means that when I miss hours here, it’s a much bigger impact on my income than at any other job.

Then there’s the work-flow factor.  I’ve been compiling these reports for a year now and I know the process very well- which parts are tricky, which words need to be changed, how to address a website that is being weird, where to find missing data, etc.  When I can’t work, the reports either have to wait, or they get compiled by someone who may not know all the little tricks and solutions.  It slows down the process, and it’s unfair to my coworkers to have to pick up my work on top of their own duties.

But mostly there’s the useless factor.  I spend a lot of time on my computer.  As in, at least 8 hours a day.  I work, I write, I creep through Facebook and Twitter, I read, I watch, I play, I organize, I plan, you get the idea.  When the computer goes down, it not only takes my ability to work the consulting job, it takes my ability to work two other paying jobs, my freelance writing tasks, and my main source of entertainment.  (It also throws off my carefully constructed daily routine, but you all have heard enough about my OCD).

I went to bed last night feeling like the day was wasted.  I didn’t work, and I didn’t do anything I enjoyed.  After dropping my computer off at the repair shop yesterday, I came home and tried to take advantage of the unexpected vacation.  I finished the last few chapters of three books (I don’t usually read multiple books at the same time, but this time the library due dates caught up to me), I returned those books to the library, and I got a new book.  While I love to read, doing so in the middle of the day just felt wrong, and I couldn’t relax into the stories I was reading.  I kept waiting for the repair shop to call, telling me that I could have my computer back.  The call never came, and I never found a new rhythm to the day.  Frustrated, I gave up on the attempt and went to bed early.

So today I’m going to find a way to enjoy this unintentional time off.  I’m going to play a video game, or chase the dog around with my Sphero robotic ball, or teach the rabbit a new trick, or even start reading that new book.  Maybe I’ll go crazy and paint my toenails.  Maybe I’ll go really crazy and paint the dog’s toenails.  Who knows?  Maybe the computer repair shop will call and I’ll get my computer back.

Until then, let me know some ways that you enjoy unexpected time off?  Do you read?  Catch up on a favorite show?  Torment a beloved pet?  Or does it, like me, just totally throw off the rhythm of the day and leave you feeling slightly resentful towards the universe?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  I’ll talk to you all on Monday (provided I have a working computer by then).


*posted via smartphone after an extremely frustrating hour and a half.


3 Responses to “The Value Of A Day*”

  1. karen June 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Totally get the steps 1-5 a&b. Mostly step one, however… My husband says I have a “force field” around me, when I work with computers they start to snap and fizzle and (sooner than later) begin doing all kinds of strange things. My sympathies dear girl. Hope your up and working soon.

  2. Wickedjulia June 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    I do hope the problem is solved quickly and economically. Mine got damaged in a power outage last year and has been limping along ever since. I am setting aside money for a replacement (like you, I need a computer for work) but, Murphy’s Law and all that, I am expecting to be computer-less at some point in the near future. As far as what I do when doing without? There is a certain amount of pet tormenting and frantic house cleaning that happens. Yes, it completely throws me off balance but, then I remind myself of the things that I enjoy doing that I cannot do with the computer on. I paint, or draw with pen and ink, or mess around with clay; all those things I love to do but, require open containers of water and must be kept away from the computer. I resolve myself to make time for these things and promise to not start every morning by turning on the computer before I make coffee. I hope that by saying that over and over again, I will change my behavior and not neglect the art I also love as much as writing. Wish me luck.


  1. Counter-Pressure « Losing My Cents - June 11, 2012

    […] after that payment posted to my bank account, my computer crashed hard.  I talked about this on Friday, as I tried to write a coherent blog post via my phone.  (It turns out, that’s really hard […]

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