A hot-rod for geeksMy son needed a new laptop for college.
By: Laura Snyder, Pine Journal
My son needed a new laptop for college. The one he uses now has developed a case of whatever the opposite of arthritis is. Its joints do not stiffen up (that would be preferable), but the screen seems to take perverse pleasure in loosening up and dropping over at the most inopportune moments.
He has always been a pretty resourceful fellow, however. His way of dealing with this very annoying anomaly was to sit in a seat directly behind one of his classmates and tell them not to slouch. Then he would simply rest the screen on his classmate’s back and all would be well… unless his classmate sneezed. In that case, his laptop would slam shut on my son’s fingers, prompting him to howl a word that is not appropriate in a classroom setting.
It might have been possible to put up with that inconvenience if he didn’t also have to deal with the disk drive popping out randomly like a Jack in the Box. He’d place a disk in the drive, close the drive, wait 10 seconds, and it would fly back out again. In… out. In… out. In… out… It was like a mini surprise party, every 10 seconds, until it finally decided to stay in long enough for the computer to read it. Sometimes, however, my son didn’t have time to wait for his obnoxious laptop to make up its mind, so he would end up using the computers at school and be late for his job.
Well, he’s going to be taking summer classes this year and he won’t always be able to depend on a friendly, non-slouching person who never sneezes sitting in front of him, so he asked for our help in procuring a more obedient laptop.
While shopping for computers is my husband’s idea of nirvana, I’d prefer to have a root canal. I just went along for the ride. It was my job to keep them grounded and make sure they didn’t buy a hot-rod when all they needed was a two-door sedan.
We went to several stores and looked at a number of… numbers. Numbers like 9800, 512, and 10x15. Those numbers were littered with letters like RAM, GB and DVD. My husband silently considered, my son drooled and I yawned.
We looked at different “packages.” They all looked the same to me so I based my opinion on whether there were any rebates or “instant savings” and whether the name of the package sounded expensive. I nixed the Jet-Setter Package because it sounded like something only Paris Hilton could afford. My son didn’t want anything Paris Hilton would want anyway.
They stroked keyboards lovingly, listening for a certain kind of click. If the click was just right, it made it to the list of contenders. The sales clerk looked at me as if I had suddenly sprouted donkey ears when I asked about a particular laptop’s behavior and whether it did what it was told.
Finally we lit on a laptop that was the equivalent of a hot-rod for geeks at the price of a two-door sedan. It had all the right number and letters, which pleased my husband. It looked like something out of Bill Gates’ wet dreams, which pleased my son. And most of all, the price was something I knew my son could afford on his part-time salary, which pleased me.
We introduced my son to the store’s no-interest payment plan and I could sense his body literally vibrating in glee as he signed the paperwork that would make that laptop his own.
I remember that feeling. It happened 21 years ago when I signed for his birth certificate.
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and speaker. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Web site www.lauraonlife.com for more information.