She was working on her essay about the days when every payment came by mail when her computer died. A time when the mail carrier was a person you talked to on your porch, and you baked them cookies on special occasions. There was no such thing as electronic wire transfer, hacking, identity theft, or funds being routed improperly. You knew your banker, grocer, the kids’ teacher by name, as well as the neighbors. She was comparing the faceless, fear-ridden society of the electronic age to times when children could walk to the store alone and bikes got left in the yard overnight without fear of theft. Generally speaking, people obeyed traffic laws and the nightly news wasn’t filled with murder, mayhem, and drug busts. Her essay wasn’t a lament about the loss of dignity and respect but an expression of the desire for a continual improvement of the human condition. She wondered if that was possible or if we were so used to greed and insensitivity ruling the world that it was now a permanent condition.
She thought about breaking out paper and pen or her grannie’s old typewriter but realized that would be a wasted effort since her essay had to be submitted by email. Sighing, she rose from her desk, grabbed her raincoat and purse, then trudged to her electric car after locking the front door and setting the alarms. A trip to Best Buy couldn’t be avoided. These days it was cheaper to buy a new unit rather than have one repaired–if you could even find an honest repair shop where the owner didn’t scan your browser history for information they could sell. Realizing she was putting herself in a bad mood with the direction of her thinking, she sat up straighter and started looking at the scenery.
It had rained most of the month, but at that moment there was a rainbow peeking out of a multi-hued cloudbank and thousands of geese beat their wings toward whatever destination they sought. Fields were waterlogged and dirt roads showed the passing of farm trucks on muddy tracks. She told Siri to turn on some relaxing light classical music, then nodded with pleasure when the first notes caressed her ears. She was just beginning to enjoy her outing when she rounded a curve and discovered that the road was flooded. It didn’t look very deep but in an electric car one couldn’t risk having components fry and being stranded. She’d have to turn around and go miles out of her way to continue or accept the penalty for late submission. When people went by horseback or mule-driven buggies such obstacles could be surmounted by cutting through the woods or across the fields. Once again, the modern world revealed its weaknesses. She cursed out loud, wishing she’d taken her brother’s advice and bought a big-wheel pickup that could handle any terrain or weather condition. But she loved her car and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
She decided to go back the few miles to another road that would eventually take her where she wanted to go. Being a quitter wouldn’t help her get her degree and keep her GPA intact, so onward and upward it would be. As she navigated the torturously twisty alternative road, she quit seething and started thinking of herself as a racecar driver, bound for glory after winning the race. She reminded herself that every curve in life’s journey is simply another thing to experience and that it is the journey one should enjoy rather than just the destination. She had her essay filed on a flash drive so there was nothing stopping her from staying in town for a nice dinner then going to a coffee shop with WIFI to finish writing her piece and submit it before the submission deadline. Turning tragedy into ecstasy might be the key to happiness, she thought. If not, learning to cope with adversity might lessen the pain. As she pulled into the parking lot at Best Buy, she congratulated herself for doing exactly that.