“Operating Systems” By: Daniel Coshnear

Three days and most of three nights you tried to load your address book, to send a simple email to yourself, to put a familiar icon on your virtual desktop. Your files are your memory and what’s left of your future, they are each and all a poem, every single word and comma hard won in the daily war against dissipation and death, but pushing the mouse across the mouse-pad felt like driving drunk in a foreign city, a bad dream city, every street a cul-de-sac. Furious, you broke a real knuckle on your real desktop. So here, you’ve arrived in the big box where you bought it, the product in a small flat box in a bag on a string depending from your wrist. After the man on the sales floor with the red mohawk and the big silver stud in his ear offered his puckered mouth and eyebrows in expression of perhaps dismay, perhaps something else, a suppressed urge to say dumb fuck, he directed you to the line for customer service. In an instant you knew she was the one you wished to speak to; she among the four busy reps barely tall enough to see over the counter, she with the ridiculously large square black plastic framed glasses, evidence of a sense of irony perhaps, existential humor borne of the pain of the human condition. She must’ve been teased plenty, you imagined. You guessed that what she lacked in stature, she gained ten-fold in sympathy. You bestowed upon her the wisdom of Sisyphus. As your fellow unsatisfied snaked forward, you leaned into the curve, shifting your weight from foot to foot, buffing your chewed cuticles on the felt rope. You hoped you might surprise her, how well you suppress your rage, articulate your pain. Your uncommon dignity. She might or might not whisper to you it’s a piece of shit, and you might or might not offer your sympathy, given her position, the dread she must feel each day arriving at work. In any case, you had to be rid of the product, needed if not the three days and most of three nights back, at least the four hundred bucks and the feeling you can make things happen. When I say you here, I mean me, of course. It’s a device popular in poetry, pop songs, and advertising. I mean me and my depression, aka anger turned inward, aka loss of self-efficacy. Me and my little goals. I mean me, but I’m going to call me you. She listened. When I say listened I mean she exhibited all the behaviors that resemble listening, then she said, But there’s nothing wrong with the laptop. She said, I can’t give you a refund simply because you don’t like the operating system. And then she said, by way of apology perhaps, or perhaps by way of establishing your connectedness in the aforementioned human condition, New things can be scary. Your mind filled with scary things, some of which were new. You said, I’m afraid I might harm you. You here means her, or at least that’s how you intended it, and it seemed that’s how she heard it, though a minute later with your arm twisted behind your back and your face pressed into the tile floor, you tried to make a case for ambiguity, something called a reasonable misunderstanding, a form of what’s called plausible deniability, an operating system with which you are now quite familiar.
Coda: Two hours later, your phone rang. Someone, you assumed, was calling to apologize, but no, it was your doctor. Good news, he said, they’ve found a donor after all these years. The time is right for your appendix transplant.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *