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VOL. 127 | NO. 244 | Friday, December 14, 2012

Dan Conaway

Dan Conaway

Give a Reboot This Year

By Dan Conaway

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REBOOTS FOR EVERYBODY. As I sat there on hold – again – listening to synthesizer Gap crap, or a good beat slowly beat to death, or Barry Manilow at the Copa, the Copacabana – I was reminded of a Lily Tomlin line from years ago, “I had a terrible dream last night. I dreamed that the man who invented Muzak invented something else.”

Then a voice broke through, a live one – not the recorded one that had assured me every minute or so since shortly before lunch last Thursday that someone would be with me shortly – but a live voice saying, almost singing my name in an exotic Indian lilt, reaching across continents and cultures to give me my (your choice) computer-modem-wireless router-email-cloud-iPhone-Android-iPad-tablet-Kindle-printer-scanner-Uverse-cable-satellite-livelihood-life back.

I explain my problem. “Reboot,” she said. “I have,” I said. “I will connect you to our technical department,” she answers, and before I can scream in protest, before I can tell her how many times I’ve been left at the altar like this by so many like her, there’s Barry again, this time bemoaning the loss of Mandy. “The night goes into morning, just another day,” he sings, and I can relate, because it’s now 11½ hours later in Mumbai.

And don’t tell me about online troubleshooting. Without the magic mojo of routers, cables, satellites and clouds, there is no online, only the dark, cold screen. For those moments when the problem might be solved online, countless clicks across a wilderness of help pages and following your mouse into the netherworld of chat rooms reveals but one constant refrain:


But here’s the thing. Most of the time, most of the evils in your operating system, most of the bugs crawling around in your apps, miraculously disappear when you reboot. To be sure, they can reappear, maybe larger and nastier, but rebooting does seem to be the world’s new do-over on the playground, the new kick to the TV your father adjusted the picture with, the new duct tape for tears in the ether.

It can’t fix the biggest problems but it can address the smaller ones, make us feel better, and allow us to get on with it.

So here’s the idea. Give everybody on your list a reboot this year. Maybe a couple. For that comment somebody makes at the holiday dinner table – you know, that one that makes your son evoke the season, “Jeez, Dad,” and makes others leave the table – give a reboot. For the mean snap of one spouse to another, or one friend to another, or one colleague to another, give a reboot. For a bad moment, a stupid second, for something that hurts both parties, give a reboot.

If you don’t, things get stuck on hold – small glitches turn into bigger things, and things just might have to go to the technical department, or make us as distant from each other as Memphis and Mumbai.

“Reboot,” she said.

I’m a Memphian, and I need a reboot. And I could use some new batteries, too.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.

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