Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Ministering Angel 

I almost fell in love the other day.

My laptop at work had finally given up the ghost; after four and a half years of sterling service – including being bounced around in the panniers of both push-bike and motorbike - the USB port had failed; to rectify it would require a motherboard replacement, rendering it ‘beyond economic repair’. After enduring an infuriating few days trying to navigate using the mouse-substitute nipple (there being no functioning orifice into which to plug mouse or keyboard connector), the replacement arrived, born in the fair hands of a ministering angel from our outsourced IT partners.

Now, it’s not often that you would hear the words ‘ministering angel’ and ‘IT department’ in the same breath (sorry, Winston!), but my view in this instance was only partly coloured by the imminent arrival of lovely shiny things and the consequent return to full operational status of the humble desktop mouse; how true it is that you don’t miss things ‘til they’re gone.

[Aside: whilst I’m at it, there’s an even more infuriating feature of the old Dell laptop which had me threatening to smash it into a hundred pieces the moment its successor arrived. The ‘touchpad’, with which it is also fitted as an alternative to the nipple, isn’t strictly speaking a touchpad at all. It’s a proximity pad. So whilst you’re busy typing away, already mildly stressed by the ergonomically less-than-ideal laptop keyboard, should part of your hand stray too close over the aforementioned and most deceptively and erroneously named touchpad (the former action is almost impossible not to do, and the latter feature can’t be disabled in the customised version of XP which we have no option but to use), without realising it the cursor will jump to an entirely different part of the screen, dropping parts of words at random in the middle of earlier work, and those stress levels ramp up several notches. But back to the plot…]

I don’t know why I notice these things, but I do. Her movements – her arm reaching across in front of me to the mouse, eyes flicking between the screen and mine – made me wonder if there might not be some fairy blood in her (if indeed fairies have blood at all; most probably a fluid altogether more magical circulates in their veins). So light, so delicate, balletic, almost as if weightless; as if unencumbered by mortal flesh and leaden bone; movements like a bird suspended on a breath of wind; every movement a perfectly choreographed flow. Watching her long, slender fingers on the keyboard as she set up a few parameters, I was tempted to ask her whether she played the piano –and if she didn’t, maybe she should.

And before you ask, as it happened, yes, she was relatively young, but characteristics like this are ageless; whether they’re found in a 27 year old or a 72 year old, the effect can be equally charming. (Not that you find many 72 year olds in IT departments. And I guess my attempt to convince you that age and gender were irrelevant is doomed to failure, so maybe I shouldn’t even try but just go with the flow…). Even her voice sustained the illusion, which was doubtless reinforced by her accent (judging by her name, I guess she was Turkish). I’m in danger of dropping totally into cliché-speak here – if indeed I haven’t already - so I’ll stop short of talking about tinkling silver bells, but you get the drift. I didn’t dare look to see if her feet were actually touching the floor when she left; even if they were, I’m sure it would only have been part of the disguise.

Suffice it to say that she brightened my day considerably. Oh, and so did the new laptop. When can I have another one?

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