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General

           It is another humid Monday morning. Normally, I would be in my car en route to my job at the factory, but thanks to recent economic downfalls, my lengthy career as a forklift driver had come to an end. The factory recently declared bankruptcy, unable to reopen its doors after a global pandemic forced most businesses to shut down.

           Today, I follow another path; a path down my street and through a park on my way to the community college where I plan to gain knowledge in computer sciences. My theory is, even if businesses fail to get back to the normal that we are used to, I will at least have something to fall back on that I can use to my advantage anywhere, even from home.

           I began the course only two short weeks ago, but the information that has already been forced into my mediocre brain seems overwhelming to say the least. I plan to stick with it though, for if I choose to wait until another menial job arises, then I may not be able to continue paying for my car payments, insurance, and rent. The money provided by the government during the shutdown has nearly run out.

           As I near Hawthorne Avenue, I see old Mister Hardy jogging down the street wearing nothing but a smile as he passes the nursing home. Several of the female residents gawk at the sight of his nakedness. With his light grey hair and his desire to express himself in the most natural sort of way, Fred Hardy earned the nickname of  “The Silver Streak”, and rightfully so. One of the residents in the nursing home likes to chase after Fred in her scooter to get a closer look, but the staff usually rounds her up before she gets more than a block away.

           Lassiter Community College is just around the next corner, so I will have to hurry up. My class begins in twenty minutes. Today we are supposed to discuss algorithms and how they affect social media users. I think that this is one part of the course that everyone will understand somewhat considering that we all partake in the social media phenomenon. Normally, the information overload is too much for me, but I am rather enjoying this class today. Next week, however, we will be discussing the computational complexity theory and how it compares to computational geometry. I guess I should have an extra cup of coffee that morning so I will be able to stay awake.

           All-in-all, I believe that I can handle this computer science course. My mother always raised me to believe that anything was possible if you put your mind to it. Of course, it has taken me more than fifty years of my life to realize that it could happen to me too. I look around the classroom, and I am by far the oldest of the group. I believe that I even have at least ten years on the professor who is teaching the course. Most of the students are in their early to mid-twenties and had been brought up their entire lives with a computer of some sort, whether a personal computer at home or an iPad. When I was in high school, I avoided taking a computer course because I didn’t believe that I would ever have to use one. Boy, was I wrong! Back in the early 80s, we had to learn DOS. There was no such thing as Microsoft Windows at that time. It wasn’t developed until 1985 and wasn’t available in the schools until years later. Since those stone-age days, I had self-taught myself how to use the internet. It was hit and miss at first, but once I got the hang of it, I found it fairly simple. The internet-age changed life as we know it. The information highway quickly became the main source of all information everywhere around the world. Students no longer had to travel to the city library and search through drawers filled with reference numbers and then search up and down aisles of books hoping that nobody beat you to the book that you need. I remember mentioning to a 20-something girl one day that I used to have to search for books using the Dewey Decimal System and she looked at me as if I had two heads. Her mouth was hung open and her head tilted sideways like a dog that had heard a familiar word. Searching for anything today is made to be so simple. If you would have told me back in the 1980s that we would one day be able to carry a portable computer around in our pants pocket and also use it as a phone, I would have told you that you watched too many James Bond films. I know now, that the possibilities are endless when technology plays a role in the future. I truly believe that even if businesses continue to fail, there will still be a generation of people who will give up eating just to keep up with the latest technology.

           My eight-week course is nearing its completion. Only one week left before my final exam, part of which is the ability to take a table filled with loose components and piece them together to form a working computer. I found that building a PC was easier than trying to build a laptop. The components were more compact and placement was more precise. I’m glad that my father had shown me how to properly solder electrical components while I was growing up, otherwise, I might be struggling right now like some of the younger students. I guess age does have some advantages. I started thinking of that famous line from the Spiderman movie when Peter’s uncle says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I guess I should use my knowledge and years of wisdom to help out those who are struggling with the soldering task.

           The class is finally over for the day and I am so glad. I am starving! My stomach had been rumbling and grumbling for the last 30 minutes. I’m sure that my classmates within earshot could hear it as well. I think I will stop off at the pizza place on the way home and grab a medium pizza. I find that since my divorce three years back, I tend to eat out a lot more. I think that’s because I am hardly ever at home and there is rarely enough food in my fridge or cupboards to make a decent meal. I think the last meal I ate at home was a bowl of Ramen Noodles and a slice of buttered bread. Perhaps if I start working from home eventually, I can invest in some groceries and maybe fire up the grill with some burgers once in a while. It’s been ages since I’ve done that.

           Back at home, I gather up the mail from the mail slot at the entrance to my tri-plex. My apartment is on the main floor which has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that I have a walk-out to the backyard and I don’t need to climb stairs when I am coming and going. The disadvantages are that I hear every noise that my neighbors from upstairs make, plus my apartment seems to be the one that gets broken into the most; not that it necessarily matters since I don’t have anything worth stealing anyhow. I keep expecting a burglar to break in one day and leave me some money out of pity.

           The neighbors right above me are a young couple that I think are dealing drugs or something. There is a constant flow of traffic going up and down the stairs to their apartment. I’m not one to complain though; it’s never a good idea to develop a reputation as a rat with your neighbors.

           The neighbor on the third floor is a quiet, single woman in her 30s. We have only spoken in passing a time or two, but I wouldn’t mind getting to know her a bit better. I often feel sorry for her having to deal with the noise from the second floor. She keeps strange hours too. I believe she works a lot of night shifts and sleeps during the day, but I don’t know what she actually does for a living. Perhaps one day I will ask her over for dinner…on second thought, perhaps I can ask her to join me for a coffee at the café down the street. They serve an amazing cappuccino.

           My apartment appears to be as I left it. No money left by concerned burglars and my dog, Chico, the ornery little tan chihuahua that was a parting gift from my ex-wife, is still barking away while gnawing on my slippers. At least Chico is keeping himself fed somehow. The neighbor upstairs had the nerve to come hammering on my door with his fist one night to complain about Chico barking. Meanwhile, they had the music blaring and a party going on. I told him to call the cops and complain then slammed the door on his face.

           The final exam results are finally in and it looks like I passed with 85%. All of that hard work paid off. I was a little intimidated at first and felt like an outcast due to the age gap, but I think I gained the respect of several of my classmates. One of them even invited me over to his place on the weekend to binge-watch the entire set of Harry Potter films…which I have to admit I accepted and look forward to since I am now officially a computer geek and need to keep up my geek status in every way possible. I watched a few of the films before sporadically, though I have not seen them in order so the story is quite confusing to me. Perhaps this will set my mind at ease.

           So ends the life I once knew; a life where I lived the definition of insanity. I did the same thing over and over every day expecting different results that never came. Now begins a new life filled with flexible hours and endless possibilities. Just in time too. I just received my first “Past Due” notice in the mail. I need to find a steady job eventually, but for now, I will use my new skills using algorithms and promote the hell out of myself online. If I believe it, I will achieve it.

The End.

August 08, 2020 01:02

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4 comments

Brooke Gardner
17:01 Aug 21, 2020

I liked your use of comparisons in the similes and metaphors that I found!

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Greg Gillis
19:30 Aug 21, 2020

Thank you. 😁

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02:58 Aug 18, 2020

I really enjoyed this! The layout was super easy to read and the descriptive words were definitely a highlight!

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Greg Gillis
12:52 Aug 18, 2020

Thank you for the positive response. 😁

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