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December 19, 2007

How Not To Recycle a Computer

So, I've been trying to get rid of my old desktop computer because it's taking up space in my apartment and my kitchen table has become a desk for my laptop and my apartment looks a little like the living space of a computer science geek. Well, no, then I'd have two monitors, not just one.

Yesterday I had a job interview. Today I have another interview and I think to myself, I can't even figure out how to recycle my 1999 Pentium III computer. It has been almost 5 months since I got my laptop and I just can not get the old desktop out of my house. Who knew this would be a monumental task. If I can't get an old computer out of my house I yell at myself how effective am I really? Would I hire someone who can't get a computer out of their house?

But, wait. It's really not as simple as it sounds. It must be done properly. It's not just like taking out the recycling and separating it properly which, by the looks of the back lane is too intellectually demanding a task for the majority of the Canadian population.

First it requires that I erase the hard drive. Because, hey, I have such confidential records on there. Financial documentation that reveals the sheer lack of depth in my bank accounts. The miniscule income tax returns I've received. Etc.

So, I'm on the Internet trying to find out about all sorts of things I should have already known. I'm learning that Shareware does not mean Freeware. Freeware means Freeware which is why the word free is not in the word share. So after going through all the first stages of downloading a shareware program that I think will do the trick, I must cough up money to complete the deed. But No. No. No. No. I'm not paying MORE money to get rid of my almost 10 year old computer. I might as well just go outside and throw $40 up in the air. So, once again, I'm stalled and every day, I look at that old computer. Sometimes I turn it on thinking I'll try again to find the right program to erase the hard drive. But, I can't seem to bring myself to do it. Not again. I'm too tired right now. It's Christmas. I'm tired. It's raining. I'm tired.

Then, I must know for sure what "recycling" means to the place where I might take it to be recycled. I hear that the Salvation Army recycles. I call them. What do you do with the parts? I ask. I don't know she says. Well who would know? I don't know, she says. Well, is there someone there I could talk to who would know? "No" she says. "Check our website," she says. I do. There's nothing.

I look over at that computer, that white monolithic monitor on my desk and feel helpless. Feel pathetic. I'm being reduced to making whining noises all because of a piece of plastic. I'm leaning over the keyboard, whimpering. Holding my head. Help me.

But, lest you think it's so simple, just try it. Try recycling your obsolete computer. Because nothing is what it seems.

I think I know why THEY say, just take a hammer to the hard drive. Then THEY say things like you could use a magnet to erase the hard drive. A big magnet? How big I think. Can I take one of those little lady bug magnet's off my fridge? Will that erase the hard drive? Who are THEY anyway?

Even if I could find the right sized magnet where would I direct this magnet? Should I be standing back, holding it the way Luke Skywalker holds a lightsabre? When I have this magnet in my hand should I be wearing one of those lead lined covers; the kind they make you wear when you go to the dentist and they take an X-ray? Which part of the machinery would I be holding the magnet in front of? GRRRRR? Do you see what I mean? Can you feel my pain?

I've almost reached a point of no return where I've just decided, I'll just keep it for historical reference. I'll have it, still, on the same desk taking up space when I'm 90 and by that time, I'll have a whole bunch of obsolete computers that I still haven't figured out how to get rid of because the computer chip will surely be implanted, by then, in my hearing aid. Or my pace maker. My cane. My night vision goggles. My artificial frontal lobe.

By then, I will BE a computer myself.

Then, when I die, they'll have to figure out how in the world can we do a "green burial" on this one when she's chalk full of electronics? Most of which, I might add, will be severely outdated.

And with any luck, they'll have just as much trouble trying to recycle me as I'm having trying to recycle my Pentium III which is even too old to give to some charity because Computers in Schools want at least a Pentium III but one that has at least 833mhz of memory or something like that.

Help me. Help me God. Give me a sign. Can't you just beam it up?

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