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“Stress is not your best friend, but it certainly is a frequent companion,” David said, smiling and stroking my hair.

“Stress is my frenemy.” I smiled back, proof that I hadn’t completely lost it, and said, “Let’s go downstairs and help out with dinner.”

Over the next three days, I heard one horror story after another from islanders about the jerk at the computer store. A man I met at a party said the consensus on the island was that the guy in the wheelchair, who was in the midst of a lawsuit over the car accident that put him there, didn’t need to be in the thing at all (one high-profile doctor, upon seeing the guy’s MRIs, said all he needed was physical therapy). An employee of the gallery that represents David said he’d made the mistake of stepping past the counter to look for help, only to be greeted by the seated man screaming expletives at him for crossing the invisible line. Our friend Jen brought her computer there and didn’t get it back for 30 days, at which point it was worse off than it was before (hers had never been broken, she just wanted a “professional” to perform a backup and ended up with her data being lost).

By the fourth day, I wanted my baby back, fixed or not. I called the store and told the kid who answered that I needed to collect my laptop that day because I was leaving the island. He said that wasn’t possible, that their server was in the middle of retrieving data, and they never unplug at that time.

“Look, I don’t care if it’s broken,” I snapped. “I’m leaving today, and I’m taking my laptop with me.”

“We have your number in San Diego,” said the kid.

I was apoplectic. “You won’t be using that number because I am taking my computer. Today.”

“No. We will not unplug it while it’s recovering data, and that’s that,” he said.

I practically threw the phone at David, snapping, “Can you talk to these assholes for me?”

By the time David put the receiver to his ear, the guy in the wheelchair had replaced the kid at the other end of the line. David argued with the man for five minutes and then hung up the phone. “We pick it up at three. But he said he doesn’t work for free,” David said. I slapped myself in the head. I had been so distraught when I dropped off my machine, it hadn’t occurred to me to square the price in advance.

At 3 p.m., we entered the store for the last time. I paid a ransom of $142.68 and retrieved my broken laptop in exactly the same condition (except for the addition of a few new scratches on the case). No information had been recovered. As I still had a week left on my computer’s warranty when I got back to San Diego, I brought my baby to the Apple Store, and a new hard drive was installed at no cost. When I got home, my trusty backup drive (that will accompany me on all trips from now on) restored everything to its rightful place, including my sanity. n

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jen July 16, 2008 @ 2:11 p.m.

Euw...I hate Dr. Creepshow wheelchair guy - but I LOVE the video!! Thanks for the mid-day laughs!


Barbarella Fokos July 16, 2008 @ 2:19 p.m.

Haha! I remember Creepshow. "I want my cake, Bedelia!"


mystery4afan July 24, 2008 @ 12:07 p.m.

Dear Barbarella,

My hard lost a fan at the end of June. I have been waiting to hear back from the PC doc/tech who's working on it. Having foolish not made backup of my hard drive files/photos. It's five years old. So I can so understand what U went thru. Y can't they program in people skills into PC doc/techs?


Barbarella Fokos July 24, 2008 @ 1:27 p.m.

Ouch, no back-up? I truly hope you are able to recover your photos and files! People skills are nurtured in a different part of the brain than technological skills, or so I've been told. ;) I wish you the best in recovering your data.


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