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Your lifestyle, your quirk
I’m sure you guys know the story so far. My big work computer crashed…then crashed again…and finally needed to be sent off to HP Fixit Land over in Indiana, because nothing I tried actually worked. Two weeks later, the box—looking like it had been in an arm wrestling contest with the Hulk—showed up at my doorstep.
The computer had a bright red sticker on it telling me who to call in case it broke again. The paper enclosed with it informed me that HP had replaced the motherboard and the RAM. It did not say what was wrong with the computer in the first place. I’d assume it was bad RAM and a broken motherboard, but now I’m starting to wonder if it was just a blanket repair tactic for the symptoms specified: “Computer bluescreening? Rip out the ’board and the RAM and wipe the hard drive again, just to be safe. That’ll fix 95% of her problems!”
Heh. Heh. Heh.
Eager to get the monster back in action, I plunked it down in its usual spot next to my desk, attached the monitor, and pressed the power button. Windows started to whirr up, and then…
The monitor flashed a warning sign: CANNOT DETECT VGA. CANNOT DETECT DVI.
(In layman’s terms, it couldn’t find the monitor…even though it was plugged in.)
No way to log in. No way to start up. I hard-restarted the machine and got the same response.
At this point, my heart really started to sink. “You were just repaired,” I said to it. “You can’t do this to me.”
I plugged the monitor into my laptop. It worked fine. Okay, not the monitor’s problem.
For those of you who would like me to get to the point, HP swapped out the motherboard and RAM and sent it back to me, but the machine was STILL *#^&ING BROKEN.
Blood pressure steadily rising, I dialed the number on the bright red sticker, and a helpful HP employee picked up on the second ring.
“Hello HP Employee,” I said. “I just got my computer back. The sheet says you replaced the motherboard and the memory, but it won’t recognize my monitor.”
We went through the usual back and forth, with questions ranging from insightful (“If you plug in the speakers, do you hear the Windows noise?” [No, we didn’t.]) to the mildly insulting (“Is the monitor plugged in?” [I really am not that client, but I guess he needed to cover his bases.]).
He then made the mistake of asking if I wanted to open the chassis and pull out the RAM, stick by stick, to see if that was part of the problem.
“Your company just replaced the RAM,” I said. “Are you saying you stuck bad RAM in my computer?”
“Um,” he said. “I’m just trying to think of things you can do to check…without…you know.”
“Without sending it back to Indiana,” I finished. “Sorry, dude, this isn’t about you. It’s just silly at this point. Fix one thing, break something else.”
“Oh, I know,” he said glumly. “My department gets the calls from pissed-off people who already had their machines in once.”
Oh shit. There’s a department for that?
Wait a second. HP needs something like that? They screw up that many repairs? I guess I’m not surprised; they sure as hell don’t test the machines before they send them back out.
With that in mind, I figured the guy didn’t need me giving him any more grief than he probably already deals with on a daily basis, so I just made arrangements for another box to be sent out. I’ll be sending it back over to the Midwest, where it will hopefully be fixed for good. Maybe. Who knows at this point?
My perspective on computers has changed considerably since I left my office job. As a freelance writer and now a managing editor here at Stylequirk, computers are my primary link to my coworkers. Everything I do is via computer. They are not for fun and games anymore; they are an irreplaceable part of how I conduct business. Everything these days is website-email-Skype – who has time to tinker with an ill-tempered machine? Three years ago I would have taken the breakdown as a challenge: “I will fix you and you will be better for it!”
Nowadays when they break down, I see it not so much as a challenge as an affront: “How can I be productive WHEN YOU WON’T TURN ON?!”
In a startling coincidence, my father called me later that day. “Hello, offspring,” he said. (Note: my father does not usually refer to me as “Offspring,” but we’re going for dramatic impact here.) “My HP crashed today. I thought you would appreciate the irony.”
“I’m shipping mine back to Indiana,” I said. “It’s still broken.”
Dad thought that over. “I’m starting to think we should look into new computers.”
My father, unfortunately, has a work-issued HP. There are techs on-site who will supposedly fix it within a week. Maybe. Could be. We’re not entirely sure. Either way, he can’t get away from it.
As it turned out, I had some options.
“How’re your computer problems?” my boss asked a couple days later during a Skype meeting.
“Um,” I said. “The big one’s going back to Indiana and the little one has been running really hot again.”
“I can’t see your video,” he said. “Just the image.”
“Yeah…when I turn the video on the machine gets really, really hot. Too hot.” It has run hot for its entire existence, but the full workload—particularly now that I’m doing images—is starting to get to it. I’m down to one working computer, I thought. And if it goes, so goes the Suz.
I had to shut down the laptop for an hour to let it cool off after the Skype chat.
On Tuesday, I limped home from the dentist’s office, two fillings and one jabbed nerve ending heavier (I genuinely like my dentist, but nerve endings are crap, let me tell you that), and found this waiting for me:
I think my slider days may be coming to an end, folks.
In the immortal words of Eric Cartman, “Screw you guys, I’m going Mac.”