The keyboard on which I’m currently typing does not often let me type a plus sign.

I mean, I don’t regularly need to – I’m not writing code or doing arithmetic, and I avoid Excel like the plague upon humanity that it is – but sometimes it would be helpful for internet searches (serious, businesslike internet searches, obviously, not “interspecies friendship” {plus sign} capybara).

But no plus signs for me right now. And a while back, for an entire day, I couldn’t type the letter H unless I struck it with increasing degrees of mania.

Me (typing): “The thing about that is”

Keyboard: “Te ting about tat is”

Me (tentatively trying again): “Thing”

Keyboard: “Ting”

Me (poking the H key with a ramrod index finger): h




Me: “A specific issue about a scenario currently up for discussion is”

And yes, I’ve tried the canned spray air — after over-explaining myself to the cashier at Target that I wasn’t going to do anything weird with it — and popping off the keys themselves.

The H and plus sign issues are just joining a growing litany of computer… quirks, shall we say: restarting for no reason, practically requiring the assistance of a physical therapist to get going in the morning, sounding like a winded rhinoceros (or like me that time I forgot to take out the trash and had to chase down the garbage truck in my pajamas and Crocs) most of the time.

And I’ve had that most terrible, that most disheartening, that most soul-crushing black hole of thoughts: Do I need a new computer?

I’ve had this one for at least six years, and beyond my usual hand wringing over our society-wide disposability mentality and the impulse to throw stuff away rather than get it fixed, it offends me that this computer is disinclined to last forever. I only use it every day! Why can’t it just remain in perfect working order until the day our eventual cyborg overlord, GoogleBezosGatesMusk, implants the chip in my brain and I can type with my mind??

But no. It conks out when I’m in the middle of Photoshopping pictures of my cats and only sporadically lets me type certain letters. So, I did what any sane person would do: I texted my nephew Trent, a board-certified technophile and suspected wizard.

Me: Trent, please advise, I need a new computer.

Trent: Right now?? There’s a microprocessor shortage!

Me: Oh no?

Trent: sighWhat kind do you need?

Me: One that types the letter H.

He goes to school in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I heard his screams all the way up here.

It’s not that I hate digital technology. I love it, in fact! I just don’t have the firmest grasp on how it works. I turn on my computer and… it turns on! And I think that’s really great!

Also, I like to use the Adobe Creative Suite, which I know requires a lot of memory or storage, I can’t remember which, so it’s really nice when my computer has enough of whichever one of those it needs. And sometimes I scrutinize the resource monitor, which a friend pinned to my task bar because I would have forgotten and look at these moving graphs and processes that mean nothing to me. Sometimes I change my wallpaper.

But last week I took the awful step of going to the computer store, where the staff were maddeningly friendly and helpful and didn’t get pushy or aggressive, so obviously it was a miserable experience. I skulked around after informing the super chill sales associate that I was “just browsing like an informed consumer who definitely knows what all these letters and numbers mean” and cast a beady eye upon the PCs.

I will just say that, despite extensive pawing through CNet, I still didn’t have a clear grasp of what a processor does. Do I want an i7? Or a solid-state whatever? Or terabytes of possibly RAM? Is that a thing?

I broke a sweat and felt abject shame that I never took a computer science class, instead attributing everything I don’t understand about the inner workings of digital technology – which is everything – to magic and a 20-foot extension cord.

So, for now I’m just limping along with my panting rhino laptop and intermittent H’s, dreading the looming day of crisis and the “ruh-roh, we can’t turn back on :(“ message from Microsoft.

Until tat day comes, tough, I’ll just be ere, avoiding te inevitable.

Rachel Sauer is at and will pretend she knows what a processor does to make her nephew happy.