I’d rather run barefoot and blindfolded over a snake-infested field than go shopping for a new computer. Buying a new car is less stressful. Doing your taxes is less mentally exhausting. At least you get money back in the end if you’ve done them right.
I didn’t plan on buying a new computer. I simply wanted to fix the old one. I wanted it to work! Is it too much to ask for a computer to behave itself and live longer than a few years? In a word, yes. At least according to the salespeople at Best Buy, it is. We’ve bought two computers in the last ten years. Once they hit the five year mark around here, they become terminally ill. The one I’m currently using refuses to recognize any new device plugged in to a USB port. It’s just lazy and hateful.
After months of frustration, I pleaded my case of computer woes to my husband. As usual, he remained unimpressed by my sense of urgency. I explained the importance of being able to backup my writing files, an impossible task for my Jurassic computer. He agreed to get a repair estimate. We loaded up our computer and paid a visit to the Geek Squad. Once there, a crabby geek quoted a repair estimate of $200, a ridiculous investment for a washed up, has-been of a computer. I knew what we had to do. What I didn't know, was whether we'd come out alive. A jackhammer went to work on the right side of my skull and my eye began to twitch. A bit disappointed, but armed with a plan, we pressed on. Across the store a sea of computer technology awaited us.
With my husband plodding along behind me, I cruised the aisles of laptops, desktops, and all-in-ones. All around me, I heard the sounds of tax return money being blown on new electronics and high tech must-haves. I watched in silent horror as the supply of "bargain computers" I had my eye on decreased with every passing minute. At one point I turned to my husband to ask his opinion on a monitor, only to discover he had fled after experiencing a bout of sticker shock over the price of a new system. I expected as much from a lightweight like him. Best Buy is no place for the weak. You have to find what you want, then jockey for a position in the crowd to grab an unsuspecting salesperson.
Once you stake your claim on him/her (wrestle him to the floor, sit on him – do what you have to), the challenge becomes receiving his full attention long enough to get any questions answered. This works best if you have someone with you. That way one person can grill the salesperson while the other beats back any approaching customers, circling your salesperson like sharks after a drop of blood. Unfortunately, all the responsibility rests on me in this situation. After listening to five minutes of computer geekyspeak between myself and a salesperson, my husband’s eyes tend to glaze over, rendering him helpless against the predators.
I picked my moment and made my move. I snagged a guy in a blue shirt and rattled off my order like a five star general. He gave the slightest hint of a condescending smirk when I admitted my inexperience in the world of gaming and wireless technology. Seeing the dark look in my eye, he took two steps back, then wasted no time acquiring the goods I listed. A short time later, I stood in the checkout line guarding my soon-to-be new computer. Success! I reached the cashier and swiped my credit card so fast it sent up a puff of smoke and a tiny flame. I loaded my loot and dragged my weary self home.
Success does come with a price, however. The stress of the day had its way with my body. I ate enough Advil today to become eligible for a liver transplant. If I were a drinker, I’d have been shnockered by now. In fact, I’d have been looped by lunch time and singing bad Carrie Underwood karaoke in a bar by dinner. Really. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Ask my kids. Dogs run from me.
I discovered something interesting today. We paid less for this newer, faster, more glamorous computer than the one we bought five years ago. That computer also cost less than its predecessor cost in 2000. I’d like to think that prices drop as technology advances, but I’d be kidding myself. The technology improves, but the quality of manufacturing declines. Five years from now I’ll be back at Best Buy, looking to replace the computer I bought today. Only I won’t be bringing my husband. I’ll be just fine with a survival kit consisting of a roll of Tums, a bottle of Excedrin, a large net, a credit card, and some raw meat to throw to the sharks. After a series of warm up stretches, I should be good to go.