The life of a writing nurse is pedestrian most of the time, excepting the occasional travel to South Africa, or a house fire or your husband rolling the car, or getting laid off. Twice. So when we went to our local, friendly appliance outlet store to buy a new dishwasher to replace one that had, until the last few months, been working hard, reliably and often, we were doing what the majority of Americans, writers, nurses, or librarians do at least a few times in their lives.
We found one that met our requirements, or rather my husband’s requirements since he does both cooking and washing of dishes, and the first bad sign was that the newbie intern-in-training, an eighteen-year-old with blue hair, piercings and Warby Parker glasses, had to enter our purchase 4 times before getting all in order. She was bright and smart and oh, it was probably the software. The manager, (not much older than she was), straightened everything out.
Except our contact phone number the delivery guys were supposed to use.
However, after waiting a week for a call that never came – we figured it was because of the disjointed feeling of July Fourth falling on a Wednesday – my husband paid the store a visit. Oops. Phone number was our land line that we have not used in more than fifteen years from an old account with the same store.
Later that week the shiny new thing was installed and our venerable old friend sent out to pasture. First rinsing flawless and nearly silent!
Dishes and soap loaded, set up for steam wash, storm control, and this initializing process made it unhappy. My husband’s only choice after downloading the manual identify the code, selecting numerous combinations in hopes of shutting it down, was to to go to the basement to turn off the power.
We were mad.
This got me thinking. The concept of a reset button is fairly new, I’m thinking, applied first to the technology of remote controls maybe. Laptops, phones, and tablets have them. I wonder if Mission Control Huston had them when they were monitoring men shooting through space in capsules.
Computer technology necessitates resets. Code, ones and zeros, seem to get mixed up. I try to imagine what is happening in the circuitry when my laptop freezes. Panicked running up and down tiny corridors, looking for rooms that aren’t there any more? And when the reset is pressed, Control/Alt/Delete, or whatever, the runners stop, dilated eyes shrinking, and slowly crumple to the floor. Others come and sweep them away. The hunted doors appear and swing open with welcoming lights inside. All is well.
So I am now thinking about how we can apply a reset button for ourselves. Fiction is one answer. When writers tell a story, we have a chance to apply it – or not. Our characters want something. They get it, or they don’t. A second chance, life-long love, or chilling retribution. A do-over, even. The struggle is successful, or it’s not.
You can’t reset bad memories or regrets. Maybe the reset button for these is time. When my husband rolled the car, he and the dog came out with only scratches from the blackberry bushes they ended up in. With the insurance money I bought the pre-owned Prius that I love. The next year our house caught fire. Belongings were spared, and we and the dog and cat got out in time. With the insurance money I got a remodeled kitchen and bathroom.
And I wrote a short story using this motif, black humor and all, and sold it to Daily Science Fiction. You can find the flash version if you desire: Variety Daily Science Fiction, or a longer version here: Jill Zeller Variety
I hope the new dishwasher, when it comes, does have a reset button.