Alfred Hitchcock called it “The MacGuffin”.
I call it THE MOMENT.
THE MOMENT is when things change in an instant, in a dramatic, and sometimes life-altering, way.
For example, public events such as the attack of Pearl Harbor or 9/11.
Or, to give some personal examples, it can be a single phrase or incident. For me, such MOMENTs include the day I learned I had been accepted to attend Caltech, my first view of the New York Skyline as I approached the Lincoln Tunnel after a non-stop cross-country drive during my sophomore year at Caltech, the fist time I encourtered Great Art directly a few days later, when I first visited the Frick Museum and viewed two Vermeer paintings near the entrance, or the night a few days later when — looking out of a friend’s apartment at 93nd and Riverside,with a view of the Spry sign on the other side of the Hudson River that John Updike once wrote about — I vowed to live in New York City for at least five years before I turned thiry.
Some MOMENTs are yours, some you witness. For example, I recall from my days driving a cab in New York City a fare I picked up in the mid 50′s. A woman got in and asked to be driven to Astoria. I learned during the trip that she had come home to find her husband in bed with another woman, and that I was driving her to her mother’s. That was a MOMENT for her, an incident for me.
Sometimes you know a MOMENT when it happens, other times become MOMENTs only in retrospect. In my case, that would be the first time I met my cutie-pie well over forty years at an NYU party.
Yesterday I had a new MOMENT, once I instantly knew to be a life-altering event, one I would have to live with going forward.
We’ve been having trouble with our internet connection for several days now, and yesterday we lost all connectivity. Even directly plugging a computer into the cable modem didn’t work.
My wife was of course well aware of the problem. She acquired an iPhone a few weeks ago, and has made great progress learning how to use it, while I have been left behind with my five-year old plain cellphone.
With her success has come new confidence, as I learned last night soon after returning home.
As I entered our apartment I went to seek her out to say hello. I found her in our TV room, surrounded by a cable modem, her computer, lots of wires and power cords, and two routers.
(I had purchased a new WRT54GL to replace our dinky router provided by the cable company in the hopes that would fix the problem. When that didn’t work I got a D-Link DIR-655, a router highly recommended by fellow Newegg customers.)
I saw she was on her iPhone. She turned to me and said, “I’m on the phone with D-Link.”
MY WIFE ON THE PHONE WITH D-LINK!
I instantly knew this was A MOMENT.
In a single sentence my wife had left behind her self-confessed decades as a technological illiterate, and boldly ventured into the morass that is contemporary computer technology.
Not only was she fending on her own, she was dealing with two of the toughest adversaries in the technology industry today: cable companies and router manufacturers.
I knew my days as the “tech guru” in our household were over.
Dave, Caltech grad, PhD in computer science, geek and ace programmer, would now have a collaborator as the IT guru, a new role that would perhaps leads to a new kind of togetherness, or more likely put new strains on our relationship.
Whatever would come, I knew this was A MOMENT.
As it happens, our collaboration may be short lived. When I returned to the TV room a half hour later, she said the D-LINK support person – whose English had made evident that my wife had been talking to someone on the other far sid of the world -— was gone. The phone had gone dead.
I then looked to see what progress had been made. I noticed all the lights were off. The power cords for the cable modem and both routers had been removed. The cable coming out of the cable modem was by itself, unconnected to a device at the other end.
She said the support person had told her to unplug everything, but had never told her what to do next…
I’ll keep you posted.
Then again, you may hear from her first. She might start her own blog.