March 31

World Backup Day (2017 Slogan: “What would you do if you lost everything?”)

 

You’ve stayed up all night finishing a paper for your 21st Century Fiction seminar. The assignment sheet required twenty pages, but you’ve been lucky to finish a dozen.

Of course, it’s due tomorrow.  All through college, you’ve followed your friend Terri’s philosophy.  Every paper takes one night to finish, she’d say. One page paper: one night.  Twenty page paper: one night.

Your brain is mush.  There’s nothing more you can think to add, so you highlight the entire paper, raise the font size to make the essay look longer.  Fourteen pages, now.  Changing the margins brings you to seventeen.

One more trick.  You erase the page numbers from the document, so you can add them afterwards by hand. With sloppy writing — a six that looks like an eight, a seven with an extra loop to confuse it with a nine — you can actually skip a few pages.  Handwrite a clear “20” in the top corner of the final page, and you’re home free.

You click the Print icon, and your paper tray makes a responsive snap.  The onscreen essay remains highlighted, so you click outside the text to save the document.  Your thumb brushes over the touchpad, erasing the screen just before you click Save.

The paper jams up, words writing over each other on the same line, again and again.  Warning lights on the printer blink orange and red, and you have to turn off the machine.

When you re-open your essay in your word processing program, the entire document is blank.  Redo and Undo functions have no effect.

Light from the rising sun filters through your dormitory mini-blinds.  Oh God, you’ve stayed up all night in a typing rampage, hours of caffeinated concentration you couldn’t possibly reproduce in the scant hour before the deadline.  You’ve lost everything.  The feeling is terrible.

Even more terrible:  You’re not in a dormitory.  What you typed, and neglected to save, was far more important than a college essay.  You feel so tired, so afraid.  Morning light through your window offers no hope for the coming day.