I have discovered time travel and, naturally, it all started while speaking to a customer service representative.
Just like H.G Wells, Kurt Vonnegut or Doc Brown.
During the previous weekend, after exhaustive hours of contemplating the series finale of "Breaking Bad," then seeing none of my predictions come to fruition, I?decided to unwind in that most typical of American ways: spending some quality time with my Xbox.
I was stymied from the beginning as my Xbox asked me, in the typically friendly yet authoritative tone I've come to expect, to sign into my online account using my email address.
Does this sound out of the ordinary? Maybe not to people with children, or active social lives, or those who are awake during the day; but to those of us that have become all too accustomed to switching on their Xbox with nothing standing between them and spending untold real dollars on fake in-game purchases this was quite the shock.
"Well," I?thought while attempting to calm myself during this time of crisis, "I guess I'll have to put in my email address."
Oh, if it were that simple.
You see, I've used Microsoft's online service, Xbox Live, for the better part of a decade now. That means that my Live account has traveled with me from town to town, from state to state, time zone to time zone; and that I?signed with an antique email account that I have not used in the at least three years and to which I had long since forgotten the password.
After repeatedly attempting to solve the problem myself (yelling, throwing things, buying lotto tickets) I finally broke down on Tuesday night and ... ugh ... called Microsoft customer support.
After a solid 10 minutes of listening to staticky afro-jazz on speaker (so that I might share the joy with my coworkers) I was connected to a man I will call Brian because I forgot his real name.
If I thought I had a rough day Brian was having one much worse. You see, Brian's job is to talking to people with complaints about Xbox Live. For a bit of reference your average Xbox Live user speaks with the calm, dispassionate tone of a foul mouthed 12 year old off their ADHD meds.
Brian walked me through a couple of steps to try first, then asked me to try to login to my old email account to retrieve my original Xbox Live information.
"Was this phone jockey not listening?" I thought as I opened up Gmail. "I've tried this so many times Google must think I'm trying to break into ..."
Then it happened.
It occurred on some subconscious level, of that I can be certain. I wasn't thinking about what I was typing, I wasn't thinking about anything beyond the limitless hours of Netflix streaming I was missing out on or the fate of my currently orphaned Skyrim character. But then, like a page from "Arabian Nights": Open Sesame!
As I blew away the metaphorical dust from the screen I could see it, my old email!
I screamed in dumbfounded joy at the thousands of ancient emails that lay before me.
Brian was less enthusiastic.
I had a sudden and perceptible dip in interest regarding my Xbox Live account; I had just stumbled onto a time machine of the last seven years!
First and foremost: Years of inactivity in an email account builds up a healthy carapace of Spam over any real correspondence. Apparently I have missed out on innumerable opportunities to WORK AT HOME and SAVE THE COUNTRY and PAY YOUR STUDENT LOANS!
I will always regret not walking the road that could have been; if only I had known I could make $80,000 a year working two hours a day from home.
I decided to accelerate my nostalgia by skipping immediately to the first email I received, circa 2006. It was an email for my then job at the illustrious Iowa State University. It was followed by roughly 400 emails telling me that people had posted something on my Facebook wall. Who thought that was a good idea?
Moving forward in time/my inbox, I relived the end of my collegiate career, the long unseen friends I used to share emails with regularly, the beginning of looking for work in that oh-so optimistic year of 2008, the insurmountable wall of rejection emails, and during what I can only assume was the height of my unemployment, an email announcing I had won an eBay auction for the chronically underappreciated Super Nintendo game "Actraiser."
If you have an old email account and somehow divine the forgotten password, I implore you, spend a couple minutes exploring. It will provide nothing but countless hours of entertainment.
Well ... almost. Sometimes people still email that account, and those people think you've intentionally ignored them for months or even years. So, Kellee, I would love to talk to you, but you've been emailing a past version of me, and I don't know what number you've been calling but I don't think it's mine. I'll give you my new number ... but not here. Why would somebody want their readers to be able to contact them any time?
Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.