How to Spend the Day When Your Laptop’s Gone Down the Highway in Your Pal’s Car

Sit down on convenient bench outside coffee shop where he dropped you.

Give 10 seconds to wailing and gnashing of teeth and cursing such absence of mind.

On 11th second, turn face up to sun.

Initiate multiple voluntary deep breaths.

Turn attention to coffee and cantaloupe slice you DID remember to remove from car.

Reach for phone to catch at least home page of New York Times.

Experience familiar exasperation of reading news shoved into hellishly cramped space that used to be your morning newspaper.

Think better of reading; cast face back to sun.

Espy actual, hard copy local weekly newspaper lying about on next bench.

Note cover story on aging.  (Synchronicity!) Decide to read it.

Note disappointment with story’s shallowness.

Vow to write something deep about aging one day.

Quickly acknowledge this will not be that day.

Climb on bike, which, unlike laptop, you had removed mindfully from rack at rear of car.

Pedal to nearby county museum, hoping for art-culture-history session to inspire blog post in lieu of ideas and research still proceeding down highway in laptop.

Espy hours of operation on museum door, consult watch, sigh…

Remount bike, proceed to ride aimlessly, awaiting inspiration.

Note thought: County library surely open!

Turn purposefully toward library four blocks on.

Feel heat-drained early spring sun on face, cool breeze on hands.


Enter library with zero notion where to proceed.

Decide to assemble small stack of media you never otherwise consult—Wall Street Journal, The American Conservative, Esquire. 

Gaze at Esquire cover story with photo of imposing-looking man draped in massive animal fur coat: “The Winston Duke Era Begins Now.”

Note long-familiar feeling of being in world, but not always of it.

Seek cheap & easy lunch around corner on mini-restaurant row.

Note window flyer touting Chinese food $20 lunch special.

Wonder how & when cheap & easy lunch special got to be $20.

Settle for small $10 tabouleh dish down block.

Hop back on bike and pedal to park, crown jewel of local burg.

Consider age and self-preservation, leave bike at trailhead, proceed up rocky trail on foot.

Take multiple involuntary deep breaths to accompany uphill hike.

Arrive at mountain lake destination, lie down on skinny bench.

Turn face to sun, drift timelessly, dreaming of boats.

Take different downhill trail home.

Greet friend-with-laptop-in-daypack upon his return for previously planned Happy Hour.

Accept laptop, stash in bedroom, proceed with Happy Hour, dinner, conviviality.

Lie in bed gazing at ceiling, musing on life, unplugged.

Vow to explore the concept someday.




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Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at top of page.

Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact:

Lakeside photo by Andrew Hidas

10 comments to How to Spend the Day When Your Laptop’s Gone Down the Highway in Your Pal’s Car

  • Claire Spencer  says:

    I was reading yesterday about a group of younger type people in New York forming a luddite club, eschewing smartphones, social media, et al. The idea appealed to me in so many ways, while I also noted as I was pondering over the real merits of the idea, I was reading all about it on my phone. Moreover, could I give up my Kindle paperwhite, which has saved me from holding that 600+ page book in bed? It is alas a prickly problem, but sounds like you had a memorable day sans the electronics.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Yup, you have put your finger on it, Claire: the enormous benefits—I got Siri to instantaneously tell me the distances between a whole bunch of cities the other day while traveling, something that would have been both extremely laborious and time-consuming if done in the old ways—-and the often oppressive downsides of being yoked to devices, especially when they drive you nuts with the various, regularly appearing bugs they exhibit that can take an entire morning or day or week to untangle. Rather a classic love-hate affair, I would say. Food for further thought—-but not on this particular Saturday, when unvirtual activities sprawl out before us in Kentucky horse country!

      • David Moriah  says:

        Your first sentence above is the longest sentence I’ve read in . . . oh, I would say the past several weeks.

        • Andrew Hidas  says:

          Hope you didn’t get lost in it, David!

  • jsrboxJay Rogers  says:

    One of your best essays – loved it! Humor is always the best response.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Especially good to hear this, Jay, given that I basically ditched the thought of making it into a post earlier in the week. Came back to it a couple days later with fresh eyes & ears, commenced with some repair & rejuvenate work, and thought, “Well, let’s give it a go.” I’m pretty sure you’ve had some experience along these lines, yes?

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    I’ll piggyback on Claire’s luddite comment. When I was an undergrad at UCLA, I remember what a pain it was to sit in my dorm room pecking away on an electric Remington while churning out a ten-page paper. Of course, as I looked over my finished product, I realized that I had typed “cheif” instead of “chief.” For a brief moment, I said to myself, “Screw this. I’m not correcting it.” Then, I thought about Ray Bradbury’s six-all day ordeal hammering out “Fahrenheit 451” on a rented manual typewriter in UCLA’s Powell Library basement. My self-pity quickly evaporated. I made the correction, feeling more than somewhat embarrassed by my infantile pouting. I smiled reading your “How to Spned the Day When Your Laptop’s Gone Donw the Hihgway in Your Pal’s Car.” This morning I’ll pay homage to my past and Ray’s and ignore the red lines under my typos. Nevertheless, thank God for my laptop!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Robert, you stimulated a memory here of typing madly at a little corner table where I caught a slice of ocean view in my tiny garage apartment in Dillon Beach in the early 80s. It was a 20+ page manuscript and I was a very slow typist who had already redone a host of pages in which I had made enough edits to not want to send it as a semi-mess to the journal editor. But it seemed the more I typed, the sloppier I got, and instead of, you know, backing off, knocking back a beer and going for a long walk on the beach, I forced myself to go on, the mistakes piling up, until I had ruined yet another page or two and finally, literally, in a fit of semi-rage underlain with exhaustion, picked up my old typewriter and had to exert every ounce of will I had left to restrain my impulse to throw it right through the window and onto the cement below.

      So yes: I love me my word processing programs brought to me by modern digital technology, and always will…

  • Lisa  says:

    Loved reading this. We all need refreshing days like this.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      We do indeed, Lisa—even when it’s forced upon us by circumstance! Glad you enjoyed it.

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