This is my fifth Thinkpad; I swear by them. My laptop is my most precious possession. Smitty has her cat; I have my laptop. Friends are shocked whenever I appear anywhere without it.
I’ll admit to being a geek but having a laptop changed my life because it enabled me to write, any time, anywhere. Smitty’s always concerned about the amount of time I spend traveling in and out of Manhattan to see her. Visiting her is its own reward but the half-hour of writing I get each way on the ferry makes it painless.
Anyway, so it was a crisis when Tonto, my faithful Chinese companion (Thinkpads are made in China now) failed to boot the other day. I saw the Thinkpad logo, a cryptic ‘Fan Error’ message in spidery ASCII type and then the machine shutting itself down. Four or five times I tried, always with the same result. After a fruitless search for ‘Fan Error’ on the company’s website, I called Tech Support.
I spent $99 to extend this computer’s warranty from one year to three. I know lots of people who balk at extended warranties as a waste of money. ‘It’s like the undercoating when you buy a car – ninety per cent profit,’ they say. So now here I was, waiting for this extravagant waste of money to pick up, staring at days ahead with no connection to the world – no news headlines, horoscopes, Facebook, no blog, Google Earth or checking my sales figures on Amazon. I could still write – I own a pen and several pads of paper. But my stomach was sinking fast.
I didn’t like the idea of shipping Tonto back to the manufacturer but I was terrified of the other alternative: finding a ‘local reseller’ for service. You know ‘local resellers’ – those are the guys who ran the AV lab in high school, the ones who thought the machines were their friends. Who gave them nicknames like…Tonto. Oh, well…
You know they’d take one look at the ‘Fan Error’ and get that brain surgeon look. ‘Hmmm. Could be a bad sensor in the rhesus matrix. [Hands over claim tag and places precious laptop on anonymous shelf behind counter] We’ll get back to you.’
As soon as anyone mentions a sensor or anything that sounds like bad sci-fi, it’s a couple hundred bucks or more. And probably a week out of commission. And when you get Precious Friend back, it’s been optimized for the SETI search and rendered useless for writing, IMDB, porn – any of the really important daily pursuits.
So by the time the man from Tech Support picked up, I was wondering if I could afford a new laptop (no) and how much I could hurt myself if I jumped from Smitty’s window (not enough). Tony in Atlanta politely collected the information the company already had about me and then inquired about the problem. I told him about the ‘Fan Error’ message.
‘Does it go to Windows or just shut down?’ he asked.
‘Just shuts down,’ I said, my voice a defeated whine.
‘Hmmm,’ he said, confirming my worst fears. I was seconds from doom. I mean Doom. ‘Do you have a can of compressed air?’
‘Blow out the vents,’ he instructed. When you’re in tech support, you have to be thorough and methodical, trying all the mundane stuff before getting around to amputation and real serious cures.
So I blew out the vents.
And Tonto booted. Without a flicker. Booted like a champ.
I was reduced to a jibbering mess, cracking jokes, blinking and stammering. I sent several silent prayers of thanks to the God Technishpurti.
And I resolved to write a blog telling everyone how worthwhile it is to buy the extended warranty. Because friends don’t hand friends over to the AV squad without a fight.