ADAM ARMOUR: The death of a laptop

Our laptop — the sole source of computing in the Armour household — kicked the bucket last week. In terms of our sense of loss, its demise fell somewhere between the death of a family member and amputation of a minor but beloved body part. Like a Native American by the roadside, watching as you irresponsibly throw trash from the window of your speeding SUV, I shed a single tear.

Down the laptop’s operating system went, as if stabbed through the heart by a dagger, a look of shock upon its screen just seconds before it went black. No matter how much my wife beat against the machine’s chest, Windows refused to boot again. It was tragic, like the deaths of Bambi’s and Littlefoot’s moms combined.

“All my short stories and papers are on there,” Mandy cried, continually beating her fists against the keyboard in frustration. Only by yelling the words, “live, darn you, live,” and then screaming to the heavens, “noooooooooooooooooooo,” could the scene have played out any more dramatically.

The days following our laptop’s death were spent in a darkened daze. We were lost, unable to check email, look up phone numbers or peruse stupid videos on youtube. Our lives lost their meanings. We had nothing left except each other, our three pets, loving families, moderate-sized home, food in the cabinets, steady jobs, supportive friends and faith that good will ultimately triumph over the powers of evil. But, what is all that crap worth without access to wikipedia? Diddlybupkiss.

Sure, it’s back up and running now. Our friend Jay managed save our important files (including Mandy’s stories and papers), wipe the hard drive and bring the whole thing back to the world of the living, much like Dr. Victor Frankenstein did for all those pieces of dead folks. Unlike Frankenstein’s creation, however, our computer is actually improved from its original life, running faster and looking better … and not dying a fiery death.

During the dark days prior to the laptop’s resurrection, Mandy and I decided to purchase a new desktop computer. Since she’s currently taking online courses, it’s pretty pertinent that she be able to access both a word processor and World Wide Web at any and all times. If our laptop was just going to be spontaneously dying on us, it was going to have to get replaced. Sorry. It’s that way with all our loved ones.

Long story short, we purchased a new computer — a mountainous, glorious, high-end machine capable of rendering any and all technological marvels for days to come. The accompanying monitor shines with 1920×1200 resolution, displaying colors across its 24 diagonal inches more vivid than anything dreamt in real life. It’s a fantastical, magical, wonderful machine.

It also doesn’t even come close to fitting on our desk at home. Floortop just doesn’t seem as nifty as its given nomenclature, so the search began for a new desk.

Mandy and I had very defined office desk needs: We wanted something open, with a specific place for the desktop’s tower (the part of the computer that does the actual work … kind of like Mom in my parents’ household), with plenty of room on which to write and whatnot. We didn’t want a lot of cabinets since we tend to fill these with junk … stacks upon stacks of junk.

The object of our search was quickly discovered at the local Staples office supply store, and although there was a unit sitting on display in the store itself with a $130 price tag slapped across the top suggesting that one just like it might be purchasable, there proved to be none for sale in the store.

“Will you be getting more?” I asked the nice salesperson. Smiling politely, he kindly looked the unit up on the computer, smiled again, and told me they had 47 in stock at the warehouse but had no earthly idea whether or not they would ever get any again until the end of time. Mandy and I left the store dejected and lost, the object of our immediate and admittedly fickle desires unobtainable.

Unabated, I traveled back to the store the next day, my father-in-law and his truck in tow, and told the salesperson I would like to purchase that very desk — the display unit — that very day.

“Well,” he began, a warning sign for upcoming disappointment, “you see, I can’t sell it to you.”

“Why not?” I asked, my excitement sputtering, dying.

“I can’t sell you the display unit until it goes on clearance. It won’t go on clearance until they’re out of units in the warehouse.”

“But, you don’t know if you’re ever going to get any more from the warehouse?”

“That’s right.”

“So, if those 47 desks never sell, I’ll never be able to purchase this desk from this store?”

“That’s right.”

“Even though I have money in my hand and would walk away with this desk right now?”

“That’s right.”

“Then, I have no choice but to destroy you all in a fit of explosive rage, unleashing my wrath upon every person and object within the walls of this establishment not unlike Bill Bixby when he gets angry. I’m sure you wouldn’t like Bill Bixby when he’s angry.”

“That’s right.”

Okay … I made that last little part up there at the end, as well as a few lines before that, but the gist is the same as reality. I was told I couldn’t buy the desk unless the warehouse was emptied, which it may never be. Really, it’s the display unit that should be pitied, forever leading a useless existence, serving no function other than the advertisement of absolutely nothing. There’s that single tear again.

Here’s the kicker: The desk is available from Staples’ online store … for a chunky $60 over the in-store price. Cue spit-take.

Our dear friend Raven, always fighting for the little guy, called the company and asked what the deal was. Bottom line, the online model number was slightly varied from the store’s, therefore making it a different desk in spite of duplicate dimensions, color and everything else. That single digit is worth $60. Consumerism at its finest.

After a slight argument, the customer service department kindly offered to sell us the desk for $30 less than the online asking price. Classic negotiation conclusion — everybody leaves feeling a little screwed over.

In light of these events, I can’t help but feel a little betrayed by the Internet and computing technology I missed so dearly during those few days following our laptop’s death, as if neither wanted readmittance into our household. Maybe the machine’s death was a message to us — one which we refused to accept or simply ignored altogether. Maybe, just maybe, it wanted to die. I guess just because you love something doesn’t mean it has to love you back.

Single tear again.

The Itawamba County Times

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