October 2nd, 2009

Laptop with wireless mouse

A Tale of Loss and Change

Around six years ago, C. and I were living in Toronto. On one of that year's gift-giving events, he very generously gave me a capacious USB stick, all of 2 Gig, a relative extravagance at the time for the price of c. C$80. It was silver, capped in plastic, and I kept it attached to its lanyard to help ensure I didn't lose it. It came with two spare caps.

I used it over the years, for work as a student, as a conference-presenter, as a teacher. I used it on both sides of the ocean, in computer labs, and to share hexadecimal passwords with countless houseguests. I used it weekly in the spring for teaching presentations, to Kent and back again. When I arrived at the DWJ conference in Bristol in July, and labellementeuse asked if she could borrow a USB stick before we'd even gotten as far as introductions (she was about to present and a little panicked!), that was the USB stick she borrowed.

Last week, first week of classes, and I lost it. I don't know precisely where or how, but it's gone. I realized on the train back home last week, and ransacked my bags. I called security, whose collection of memory sticks was mostly one Gig sticks. This week, back on campus, I checked all the classrooms I'd been in. I asked the secretaries.

I'm fairly certain I didn't lose anything critical in terms of confidentiality or security, but what I did lose was an object of sentimentality. It was my first, my only USB stick. I still have the two spare caps for it.

On Wednesday, I went to the local W.H. Smith to buy a new one, the most obvious local place. A main street retail shop, charging full price for the product. I didn't see any on display, but asking produced more results. "What size do you want?", he asked. One or two Gig, I replied. He shook his head. "The smallest we have is Four."

UK£9.99, full High Street price. Four Gig. Times have changed. Purple. My second USB stick.