Wiped Clean

Here’s a little tale to remind you that your afternoon was likely a lot better than mine.

The other day I plugged my 32gb SD card into my computer to surf through some pictures I’d taken at an event and delete all the stinkers. After searching through my files and playing limbo with my card reader, which seems to exist only to make things more complicated in my life, I quickly realized that somehow, someway, all of my pictures had been wiped clean from my card. I hadn’t formatted it or even touched it since covering the event, but they were all gone. The Christmas photos, the folders of images for my job, vacation photos, all of it. Gone. As a photographer (and a teenage girl) I freaked out. I sat there and stared at the message that said “No files in this folder” with an expression of confusion, anger, disbelief, and “why me” all stirred into one lovely cocktail. I thought to myself ‘okay, this could be a mistake. Maybe it’s just my card reader.’ This was the only thought that allowed me to sleep through the night, knowing only a portion of my images had been backed up to my laptop and having no clue what hadn’t been. Scary thoughts.

Yesterday I slipped my SD card into seemingly every computer on campus, praying that it was only my card reader, or this outdated computer, or maybe the computer settings were to blame, all in the hopes that I’d find everything. I was wrong.

Today I stumbled around campus until I found the IT Help desk to explain my situation to the techy people who know so much more than I do. It was a similar situation to walking into a mechanic’s shop and only being able to make weird and awkward sounds to explain what’s wrong with my car. They said I needed to download this kind of software and plug this thing in and try to convert this to that and then BAM my pictures would probably show up. That sounds easy right?

So I packed up what was left of my dignity after trying to explain technical things using a 3rd grader’s vocabulary and headed across campus to the library, where I would hopefully find about 3000 picture files in the depths of such a tiny little card.

The software I needed was only compatible with Windows, which was hint #1 that this was about to go so downhill. (I’m sorry if you’re offended, PC users, but there’s a reason you never go back once you go Mac. Simple as that.) I could attempt to describe to you the process of retrieving files that seemingly do not exist, but I don’t know the lingo, so bear with me. This software started downloading all the photo files that were “gone” just 10 minute ago, but here’s the kicker: the software said the estimated time of completion was 2 hours!

Instead of hitting my head on the desk like I wanted to, I instead sat back and took some deep breaths, knowing that in two hours, I’d have my pictures back, I’d save them, and I’d been on my merry way.

Two hours go by. I’ve gone through my Pinterest feed, read the Yahoo articles of the day, watched a YouTube video of a guy filling his whole house with those plastic balls you see in playpens, and eventually the software popped up to say “Hey! We got ’em all!” As you can imagine, I was pretty excited. If I hadn’t been in such a quiet environment with sleep-deprived people, I probably would’ve made a lot of obnoxious sounds and maybe thrown out some *really* cool dance moves to celebrate the moment. I reached down to my backpack to grab my flash drive, where I planned to save these pictures, and I looked back up only to realize that my computer screen had gone black. I almost laughed out loud because this had to be a joke.

In that moment I think I actually became a wild animal. I gripped the screen as if it was taking its final breaths, checked all the cords, and came to the realization that this computer had essentially just laughed at me and said, “not today.” (In that moment, I’m pretty sure this computer had an evil laugh.) This was the part where I probably began to concern the people working around me. I started looking around, hoping Ashton Kutcher would come out from behind a stack of books to say, “You just got Punk’d”, except that didn’t happen because I’m not famous.

After five minutes of staring at a black screen, I removed my SD card, shuffled together whatever was left of my patience, and walked back to my dorm, accepting this moment as a sign from the universe. Today I realized a few things: 1) I need to work on my computer vocabulary. 2) I truly will never go back to Windows if it’s gonna treat me like that. And 3) Maybe a forced removal of pictures I don’t need is exactly what I needed. You never know.


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