migration assistant


Monday did not begin as I had hoped.

What I pictured was getting up, doing my morning pages, reading (I’m almost finished with Braiding Sweetgrass), and then putting some finishing touches on the first issue of the newsletter.

What happened was I got up, poured myself a glass of water, drank about half of it, and then, before I could even open my journal, I split the water on my desk. I grabbed my MacBook as quickly as I could. It was not a direct hit and it didn’t feel wet. I laid it in a safe place and went about sopping up water and drying everything off. Then I journaled and read and had my breakfast, and then opened my Mac to work on the newsletter.

It stayed on for about ten minutes and then quit. I refilled my coffee cup (and set on something other than my desk) and turned the computer back on. It lasted about five minutes. Then three. Then it never got past the opening white apple on a black background.

And I knew I had problems.

The rest of my day was spent in a combination of conversations with Apple Support and then in person at the Apple Store in New Haven where I used to work. I left there six years ago and hadn’t been in the store since before the pandemic began. I walked in and was greeted by two of my former coworkers, and then I saw others as well. Seeing them didn’t fix my computer, but they helped my mood. When they opened up my laptop, they found water. They dried it out the best they could, but I drove home knowing its days were numbered.

I got up this morning and repeated my morning practice. My computer came alive–and stayed alive–long enough for me to send out the newsletter and do a couple of other things. But this afternoon, I went back to the Apple Store to pick up my new MacBook Air, thanks in part to an Apple colleague from my days at the Apple Store in Durham who was willing to let me use one of her friends and family discounts. It has been seven years since we worked together but the connection continues.

I came home and opened the white box, unwrapped everything, and then began the process of logging in and making the MacBook mine. Then I set the two computers side by side and got them talking to each other though a program called Migration Assistant that moves everything from one computer to another–this time from the damaged one to the new one. A couple of hours later, the new one looked just like the old one: everything was right where I left it before I spilled my water.

I am grateful for the way things played out and I am aware of how privileged I am even as I express my gratitude. The crisis was of my own making: I spilled the water. Still, I had options–people to call and ask for help, the money to buy a new computer (even though the timing isn’t great). As I waited in the Apple Store until it was my turn to talk to a Genius, I looked around at the others in the store and wondered what crises brought them in and what was at stake. From my days on the other side of the conversation, I know there were people in the room who didn’t have the kind of support I did.

While I was in the store, I got a text from Ginger saying one of her cousins was facing a housing crisis that was not their fault. The residential hotel where they have been living in Auburn, Alabama gave all the long-term residents a little over a week to find new lodging because the hotel can make more money renting the rooms nightly during football season. Ginger’s cousin asked the person at the desk why they were doing it now when they did not do it last year. “The people that let you stay should not have done that,” the desk person said, “and they no longer work here.” 

What moves me most about that encounter is that Ginger’s cousin wasn’t asking for themselves–they was asking about the other families that live in the hotel.

Ginger spent a good bit of her day trying to be a migration assistant, but we are not close by and moving a person being forced out of their housing is not as easy as transferring data. We were able to come up with a temporary solution that buys us a couple of weeks, but we have more to do before her cousin can feel safe and cared for. If anyone reading this has a lead on an inexpensive apartment in the Auburn, Alabama-Columbus, Georgia area, please leave a comment here or send me a note at miltybc@donteatalone.com.

One way of looking at what happened between my computers today was the new one reached out to all the stuff on the old one and said, “Your house isn’t going to last much longer. Come over here where we have room for you–and we’ll even help move you.”

I wish that’s the way the world worked for people, too.



PS–Some of you have run into bad links while trying to subscribe to my newsletter. Here is one that works.


  1. Thought provoking entry, as per norm.

    On a much lighter note, Martha have spent two days trying to upgrade our iPhones. Finally got it done late this afternoon. We have an ongoing joke about devices which are supposed to make our lives easier, but which actually are much fun as rubbing your teeth on the sidewalk, though without (maybe) quite so many chuckles.

    Best of luck with the Mac.

  2. Have worked at an Apple store as well… can certainly empathize with you and the customers. Glad you’re up and running (and perhaps a bit jealous of your new MB Air. Enjoy!

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