Antiquated Tendencies

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

One might say that my tendencies are a little dated. A little antiquated, even. After all, I’ll be the first to admit that I rightly ought to have been born in the 19th century and married a 19th-century British lass complete with overdone (but striking) hair and fluffy (but striking) dresses and an overabundance of beautiful (and striking) vocabulary and intelligence.

Some of my tendencies are “antiquated” in the sense that I haven’t yet learned enough from them to move on from them, but they are contrariwise quite modern, as you will read (below):

One such is my tendency to become distracted with whatever glorious project I have before my face. When I’m working on my computer at home, this is very easy to do seeing as how I have one of a half dozen projects to choose from at any moment and four monitors to work on the said half dozen doozies.

Lately I got a hankering for a working antique adding machine– you know, the fully mechanical ones with 81 digit keys and a lever? I discovered that they’re not particularly in high demand on eBay, so the price is very agreeable. I found one in excellent condition dating pre-1930 (everyone knows that most collectibles from about 1945-ish and later aren’t collectibles at all but are merely overpriced excuses for not wanting to build things like they used to pre-1945). I decided that this adding machine was going to grace one of my desks in my study downstairs. I therefore added it to my eBay “watch” list and went about my work, happily furthering my updated nerdology.org theme (which will go live here within a few hours, by the way), singing and replacing words in paltry songs with the name of Julie, and sipping Powerade from a high-quality plastic bottle.

Suddenly it hit me. The last time I checked eBay, there were about 45 minutes left. It had certainly been about that long, but then I never received a notification on my smartphone stating that there are only fifteen minutes left to the auction. Certainly eBay’s binary wouldn’t forget to do that… would it?

It did. When I clicked on my eBay tab in Google Chrome, I found the thrillingly blood-red letters ticking down the time: 11 seconds left.

Now, when you read the common onomatopoeia gasp, you probably rarely understand the weight associated with that gasp– the sorrow or excitement or adrenaline or surprise. I want you to thoroughly contemplate the following gasp before you read any further after it. I want you to soak up that gasp. I want you to view it in its full horror, terror, and mire.

Gasp!” I gasped as I frantically moved my mouse’s cursor to the “Place Bid” button and clicked it as if clicking it would put diamonds in my vault in Zurich.

“Nooo, nooo, nooooooooo!”

Of course, anyone familiar with bidding on eBay knows that clicking that button isn’t enough; there’s a secondary confirmation window that comes into view wherein the bidder must type his or her maximum bid, meaning that if anyone else bids for less than what he or she set the maximum bid for, their account will place an automatic bid for something like $1.00 more than the other person’s bid.

After what felt like an eternity, “$55.00” was typed out as my max bid. But this was not the end! With only five seconds to spare, I still had to click the “Confirm Bid” button. My mouse felt like it was made out of lead, but somehow I managed to click the button just in time for the page to refresh with a beautiful message in green at the top stating “You won this auction.” I could have cried.

I realized that I hadn’t been breathing and decided to inhale once again.

And that is the story of how I came to obtain a working 1928 Burroughs Portable adding machine with full adding, subtracting, and printing capabilities for only $19.95 (plus an understandably hefty shipping fee)!

Burroughs Portable Adding Machine