After a three-day phone call with Mumbai, attempting to relay a 25-digit product code—displayed in 1-point type visible only through a high-powered microscope fitted with a Hubble lens—my new computer software still has yet to be activated. That’s why perfectly honest people end up stealing this stuff—so they can start using it in the same decade as the theft.
It all started last year, when my laptop contracted a deadly, hard-drive-eating virus. I brought it to a guy who looked like someone who could fix it. Over 6 feet tall, he weighed about 110 pounds and resembled an 8-year-old, except for the beard. When selecting a geek, I always look for an underfed Boy Scout who appears to have gotten lost on the way to Woodstock. That’s how you know you can trust them. The best ones have voices that haven’t dropped yet.
Somberly stroking his chin hairs, my geek delivered the news every computer owner dreads.
“We’ll do everything we can, but we still may not be able to save your data,” he said, as an assistant ushered my computer into surgery. Then he hit me with worse news: “You’ll have to leave it here.”
I begged him to take a kidney or firstborn instead—things I would miss less—but he insisted on keeping my computer.
That night, it poured. But I wasn’t concerned, because my laptop wasn’t camping outdoors; it was resting comfortably inside under a roof—a roof, as it turned out, with a leak.
For a week, the geek did not return calls. His shop was shuttered and dark all 87 times I checked. Other frantic, laptop-less people gathered in his parking lot to search for their loved ones. Some were in tears; others were dressed in black, carrying crowbars.
Finally, the geek’s mother called. I’d never thought to ask if he had one, but I never thought to ask if he had holes in his roof, either.
“Are you sitting down?” she asked. This is never a good way to start a conversation with someone who has just filed a missing-laptop report.
“There was a tiny leak over your computer,” she said. “We detected water on both sides, sloshing over the top and underneath your unit. But we haven’t determined if it got wet.” (Yep. She said that.)
I tried to interpret her words to mean something other than “we drowned your computer and took eight days to confess,” but I couldn’t come up with anything.
After the near-death experience, my laptop was too traumatized to continue. It couldn’t process a paragraph without crashing. It had no quality of life, so I humanely euthanized it.
Like anyone lamenting the loss of a beloved laptop, I’m trying to move on. I’ve already interviewed a new geek with impeccable credentials. This one has a computer science degree from Clemson and a nice metal roof on his shop. I like him. And my new computer likes him because he promised not to make it swim. Trust me, I checked.
Now all we have to do is meet his mother.
JAN A. IGOE is a computer-challenged writer from Horry County. Sometimes she misses typewriters, smooth cave walls and sharp rocks. Share your digital delusions and dilemmas at HumorMe@SCLiving.coop.