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Hauling a computer from north of Dublin to Kilkenny


April 2002, Kilkenny Ireland —

I got a computer. I picked up a Gateway 180 Mhz, 32 MB/1.2 GB dandy from a wealthy fellow up in Ashbourne, for a hundred euros.

Ashbourne is about ten miles north of Dublin; Dublin is a bit more than two hours bustime, however far that is, from Kilkenny.

I stopped in Dublin for a while. I got the Herald Tribune and went to the Winding Stair. I sat at a small table by the third-level windows over the Liffey and Ha'penny Bridge, and brought food and coffee from the second-floor café. I had courgette-and-coriander soup and brown bread, and an excellent café Americano. I talked with a girl named Tamsin, who was nice enough but not impressed or anything remotely like it.

I visited Christie at Cobblestone's hostel on the other side of the Liffey, in Temple Bar. She said there were plenty of rooms available that night.

So, knowing I had a room, I continued toward Ashbourne. Ashbourne is a few miles north of Dublin. I caught the six o'clock bus at Lower Abbey Street, a half-mile from the station. I sat next to a pretty asian girl who was reading a magazine. She smiled when I sat down, so in a few minutes we were talking. She's studying accountancy and working too. We talked for most of the 45-minute trip. She slept for a few minutes. Jamie, from Malaysia, where her family is and to where she is going to return in two years. I gave her the address of my website and my email address.

On the bus, I sent a text message to Nick, the seller of the computer. He left a voice message that he would be home in a half-hour. He didn't know if I would be able to get a cab in Ashbourne. Nick had been under the impression that I would be renting a car, which I had told him because it was easy to say. Actually, I'd said I would be hiring a car, which is the way you'd fib about it in Ireland.

I went to Kelly's Pub, and asked the barkeep "How can I get a cab?"

"Ring one," he said; but then added that they have a list of the companies, and he'd get it for me. I asked for a Guinness. He said to start at the top and work your way down. The Ireland-United States game was beginning, in the pouring rain. There was a moment of silence, evidently for the victims of the September 11th attacks. The Taoiseach (prime minister) stood quietly—the pub went silent as well, with a few saying "shh."

The ball would scoot in a roostertail spray of water to a quick halt. It was a tough day on the pitch. Soccer cognoscienti agreed it wasn't a good game.

Ireland scored a quick goal.

Nick rang me and described how to get out to his place, a few miles out of town. I rang the cab and we made that trip. It was easy. It cost 22 euros—which was more than the buses combined, but which I still considered reasonable. I took the cab back to Kelly's, and the driver helped me carry the computer into the pub.

I moved it all to a table, and went to the bar. I said I hoped it was okay that I sit there and package my computer to travel—the barkeep said "Yeah, work away."

So I did. I wrapped both computer and monitor in black plastic and mailing tape. I taped a stiff piece of plasticboard, cut to measure, over the screen. I had a couple of pints. Ireland was beating the U.S. I put the keyboard, wrapped in paper, into my backpack. I strapped the CPU onto the back of the pack, taped it on too, and taped over the plastic strap-clips. I'd carry the monitor in my arms. I finished a pint in time to catch the ten o'clock back to Dublin.

In Dublin, I had to carry the goods to the main station from Lower Abbey Street, about a half-mile. No great hardship, but a pain on the hands. The left-luggage office was closed when I got there, as was the whole terminal but for the odd departures and arrivals. A security guard said "Uh, wait a minute. Okay. Just put it down there. I'll put it behind that door over there, and when you come in tomorrow you can collect it. It'll be free of charge, and safer than left-luggage." So that's what I did. I left just the monitor, being undisposed toward carrying it the mile or so back to the hostel.

I hiked back to the hostel with the CPU on my back. Christie was still there, working at her role-playing computer game. She gave me the option of the 8-bed or a 6-bed room. I'd have the 6 to myself, for the price [of a bed in a 6-bed room]. So I took it — sat up and had a little smoke before bed. Sent a text message to a friend in Kilkenny.

The next day, after a leisurely time in Dublin, I caught bus Éireann to Kilkenny — remembering to pee well because there are no toilets on board or on the way. The computer traveled well, and the whole trip came off without a hitch.

Getting off the bus in Kilkenny and unloading my prize from the luggage compartment, I met up with a friend of some friends. I told him what I'd done, and he said "yeah, I know; everybody knows."

I carried it just a few steps down the road and set it up in my apartment.

— April 2002


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