I am waiting for someone at an outdoor café on State Street. A young man, sitting on a bench nearby, looks at Isthmus want ads, then makes a cell call.
Hi, I’m selling my laptop. I’m done with school and so I don’t need it any more. I’d rather have the cash.
(pause while other party speaks)
It’s a Dell Latitude. It’s got the usual stuff – Internet, word processing…
After the call, he strums some more on the guitar. He sings, too, but not very well.
Earlier in the day I asked Ed, my traveling companion of a few weeks back, if he would help me clean up the tiny Sony laptop I was returning.
Can we take off the email program?
Sure. Let’s empty out the messages there first.
Ed, my Inbox on my (clunky) home computer is alerting me I have exceeded capacity!
Oh, I must be trashing things from the server, not from the Sony.
7842 messages have been inadvertently moved to the trash bin.
Hmm, let’s delete those that are both in “Trash” and in your “Sent” box – they’re overloading your capacity.
Ed, my mailboxes on the server are now almost entirely empty! What happened to the 7842 messages that a while ago where in the "Sent" box?
Oh my gosh (actually, shockingly, stronger words were used here)! I think we deleted all of them, from both places!
You mean all the email I have ever written is all gone?
Dial tech support at UW.
Sorry, you’re right, it’s all gone. Forever.
Tech support at the Law School laughs along with me when I tell them what happened.
It’s kind of liberating, isn’t it? – they say.
Sure. I’m feeling free.
Like a retired person with suddenly too much time on their hands, I am a person with suddenly too much available space on her server.
Now if I wanted to feel really free, I’d call the ads and sell off the rest of my technology, like the young man on the bench on State Street.
I can’t do that. I was raised in Commie Poland. I never thought personal freedom was as important as connectedness.