For the first time in my life, I have a garage, and I think that’s very exciting. From what I’ve heard, all kinds of exciting things take place in garages. Deep Throat met with Woodward and Bernstein in a large garage – “Large Garage”, a great pen name for someone – many bands have honed their acts in a garage, both Apple and Google got their starts in garages, and these days, one of the most famous garages is the one in which Marc Maron tapes his podcasts.
Having a band rehearsal on a parking lot, or sitting at a typewriter in a car port is just not the same thing.
Garage gives you privacy, but since it’s also such a bare-bones space, it also keeps you focused, and on your edge. Well, I think it does. I haven’t spent too much time inside our garage, because it’s barely big enough for our car, which means that we can’t really have anything else in there.
Which is a bit of a shame. I think I’d get a lot more done if I only had a garage office.
I skipped into the same classroom that, three years earlier, on my first day of high school, I had hobbled in on crutches. Our Finnish teacher was waiting for us, happy and chipper as on most days. The oral Finnish exam I was there for was about to be my last one in high school.
The purpose of the oral exam was to convince her that we were worthy of a better grade than the one she was planning on giving us. I’m not sure how we were supposed to do it, but I guess showing up was, as they say, half the battle.
And that’s what I did on one spring day. I showed up, and it turned out that on that day, it was the entire battle.
The assignment turned out to be pretty simple: she asked us to tell her about an idea for the future. She may have been referring to the capital-F Future that was waiting for us, soon-to-be high school graduates, what with jobs and universities and all that. However, I decided to share another kind of idea about the future. A genius business idea I had come up with during that winter.
In a nutshell, my idea was Google. That’s how great of a visionary I was.
Only, my version of Google worked over the phone. Landlines.
That’s how limited my vision was.
So, basically, my idea boiled down to a phone number you could call to ask anything. The person at the other end of the line would use all kinds of reference books and perhaps computers – after all, I had seen “The War Games”, and most of the episodes of “Whiz Kids” – to find the answer on the spot.
If the person at the Helpdesk couldn’t answer you right away, she’d call you back with the answer as soon as she had the answer.
In hindsight, I think I was expecting a lot of questions like, “how many goals did Wayne Gretzky score in 1983-84?” or, “how many clubs has Diego Maradona played for during his career?” You know, things that could come up in a regular conversation among buddies, at any time.
I was sitting by the window, my arm casually on the window sill, as I was explaining this genius idea to my teacher and schoolmates. I like to think I wasn’t the only one getting excited about the idea, and I know for sure that our teacher liked it, because she did raise my grade. Or maybe she just wanted to see if I’d show up. Or maybe she just liked me, like I liked her.
I thought about the idea often. Every time I wanted to be able to call a number and ask anything, actually. But I never pursued it.
If only we’d had a garage.