I wore it out.
Yesterday was a marathon. I wrote for at least eight hours straight. Revised and added new material spanning 23 pages. I closed the computer, watched Gladiator and sewed spats, and then went to bed.
This morning, I woke up, turned on my computer, and my password wouldn’t work. I was locked out.
It took many tries before I realized what the problem was. My “n” key wasn’t working.
Finally I got in, and realized that it wasn’t just “n.” It was “a,” “b,” “n,” both “shifts,” and “enter.” You could make them work a little bit if you rolled your finger back and forth on the key for several seconds at a time, but even that wasn’t predictable.
Clearly this was not an acceptable state of affairs. So I packed my computer and headed to Best Buy, its point of origin, hoping that there was just something stuck under the keys (You know, those things that creep around getting stuck under keys at 2 am when the computer is shut.)
The Geek Squad, unfortunately, couldn’t do a thing for me, but did point me down the road to the best computer repair shop in town, the Bad Apple.
I pulled up in front of the Bad Apple and got out… but there was a sign on the door. Today, it said, the good people of the Bad Apple were taking a special lunch break and would be back at 3 pm. It was 2:30.
So I got back in my car and sat in the heat, sweating in my black Blind Guardian t-shirt, intermittently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and texting my best friend morosely.
There was a line when the employees returned. One extremely talkative woman dropped her computer off and, while they ran diagnostics, sat there cheerfully, greeting everyone who came in, asking them, out of curiosity, what was wrong with THEIR computer?
It made me wonder if folks ever do that in the hospital–you know, cheerfully discuss and compare maladies just because, after all, everyone who’s there has got one. Common ground, you know.
Eventually it was my turn. I gave them my computer, wrote down all my passwords, and explained what was going on.
“We’ve got a two week wait list on PCs right now,” said the repair man. (I have gained a new respect for computer repairmen. Handling people stressed out about their damaged electronics has got to go on the list of most-unpleasant-jobs-ever.)
“I’m a writer,” I said. “I can’t just leave it here for two weeks.”
“You could leave it here for a day for a free diagnostic.”
I liked the sound of “free,” but I’d driven over an hour to get there and said so.
By now, our conversation had reached the ears of someone in the back, someone who had the authority to open up my computer then and there. “We get a lot of people coming from Oak Harbor and Anacortes,” he explained. “We like to get their stuff back to them the same day, if possible. I’ll open it up right now and see if there’s anything we can do.”
For the next two hours, I introverted quietly in the corner of the repair shop, listening to the loud lady cheerfully inquire about strangers’ computers and strike up conversations with them. I avoided eye contact and eventually went back to my car to get my book. I was developing a massive headache and was in no mood to discuss my computer’s health.
“Oh!” her voice cut across the waiting room a few minutes later. “You’re reading Harry Potter! Those are my favorites; I’ve read them like twelve times. I keep telling people they need to read them, and they say, ‘Oh, those are kids stories.’ My mom, she said, ‘Oh, I don’t like books about magic.’ But they’re about SO much more than magic, aren’t they? Which one are you on?”
She would be a Harry Potter fan.
I was saved by the repairmen–her computer was ready now.
The crowd dwindled, and finally I was the only one left in the corner.
I got up, somewhat reluctantly, to hear the verdict.
“So, your keyboard needs to be replaced. We can order a new one and replace it ourselves, or send you the link and you can just order it and bring it in. It’ll cost about $60 to replace.”
At this point, the mysterious guy in the back who’d been performing surgery on my laptop came up to the desk. He had a beard and was wearing a Goonies shirt. I decided I liked him. “You know, I wouldn’t take this apart more than you need to.” He listed off a long litany of the things he’d found, including missing or broken screws and the like.
“What exactly does that mean?”
He shrugged matter-of-factly. “It’s wearing out. It’s going to die eventually.”
I laughed. “So… I really should just get an external keyboard and save up for a new computer.”
“That’d probably be best.”
“Well… I appreciate your honesty.”
Sorry I couldn’t give them more business, I left and headed back to Best Buy, where I acquired the cheap USB keyboard I’m typing this post on. It’s ungainly but, hey, I can write on it. And even having to replace the computer soon is not such a big deal. If I do well at my next couple of craft fairs, I should be able to replace it before the end of the year, no problem. Provided the car doesn’t die again, but that’s always a variable.
I should be more upset about my computer’s demise than I am. I think at this point I’m just a little astounded and proud of myself, though.
Because, according to the good fellows at the Bad Apple, my keyboard died from sheer use.
I wrote so much I wore out my computer.
It actually feels kind of badass.