• Jane Leder

When Technology Bites You In The Butt





I needed a drink. Something "stiff." The Zoom event in which I'd been invited to read part of a personal essay about a psychic reader had gone off the rails before it even began.


Thank you Zoom. You really messed up this time. (As if anyone at corporate gives a damn.) You turned what was to have been a "reading featuring the original work of Writers Studio Tutorial Students" into one of those heart-thumping, stomach-roiling technological disasters.


In preparation, I downloaded a nifty stopwatch on my cell phone, and like an athlete preparing for the Olympics, I deleted words, sentences, entire paragraphs in order to get my reading time down to seven minutes, the allotted time for all of the readers.


I joined my own Zoom session and checked out the lighting in my office, the arrangement of furniture. I moved a plant, rolled my big, blue exercise ball out of the frame, and, the evening of the reading, I put on new makeup that I'd bought at Ulta the day before. It would have been helpful if I knew what I was doing.


And then the main event. About an hour before I was to log on to Zoom, I realized that I didn't have a link. Okay, I'd just go online and reregister. But the registration was closed. How the hell could that be? Panicked, I goggled the names of the other participants. Maybe I could find a phone number. Yes, there was a number for a writer in Claremount, California. Bingo! I dialed, it rang, and then the dreaded recording: "This number is no longer in service."


By now, I'd sweated through the bright shirt that I'd washed and ironed for the occasion. There was nothing else to wear. In between running to and rummaging through my closet, I checked my email. Nothing. Twenty minutes before "curtain," and I was locked out. The show would have to go on without me.


Then an email from the event organizer. There'd been a problem with Zoom (Duh!), and the issue would be fixed in the next fifteen minutes. Maybe this hysteria precedes any number of events, but I wasn't comforted by the "Everyone is in the same boat" line. I'd had enough of that during the Pandemic.


Maybe five minutes later, another email informed me that registration was once again open and that I should use that link to log on. I clicked, and there was my cousin the rabbi from Tucson on the screen. WTF? Sure, I was glad to see him and all, but his video should have been turned off.


Where was the live shot of me wearing the second blouse of the evening?


By the time Zoom functioned properly, I was a sodden mess. A blob of black mascara stuck to my cheek like an unwanted guest. If I rubbed it, I'd have to redo my entire face. My lipstick had smeared. Blouse Number Two made me look pale, wan. I knew I shouldn't have agreed to this reading. What good would it be? A handful of my friends and the friends of the others, all ready to clap and cheer whether they liked our reading or not. My time could have been better spent weeding my new parkway garden or, yes, writing.


Then I was introduced. My last name was mispronounced for the umpteenth time since I'd married and foolishly taken my husband's surname. It's lee·dr, not l-eh-d-r. But maybe there was a silver lining in the butchering of my name: I could read under an alias that would give me cover if the reading went south.


Despite the mispronunciation of my name and the Zoom fiasco, this story has a happy ending. The Zoomers clapped and hooted and hollered, and many of them wrote glowing reviews of my essay. It's been a long time since I published my last book and received such positive feedback. I was back in the game. Ready to tackle a short story I have in the works. I even picked up two new subscribers to this blog.









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