Thursday, June 20, 2013

Death of a Laptop

On Sunday, June 9, my laptop computer kicked the bucket. It was three years old.

I went to bed on Saturday night after watching a movie on Netflix using my computer. This was not out of the ordinary. I used the laptop to watch movies and TV shows all the time. That's part of the beauty of the modern internet. Everything seemed just fine.

I awoke on Sunday morning and attempted to turn the laptop on and found that it seemed to still be working just fine. If just fine meant that the screen stayed completely black. No images came on whatsoever. Ugh...

Later that day, I took the laptop out to Best Buy. Yes, I was well beyond my warranty and I let my Geek Squad service plan that I let them talk me into purchasing three years back, which I never used when I still had access to it, expire about a year ago. But I thought I could just ask them to take a look at it, just to see what the problem might be.

The Geek on duty informed me that the problem was probably the video card. Or possibly some kind of wiring issue inside the hardware. Either way, he let me know they wouldn't be able to fix it in the store. It would have to be shipped out to some unknown corner of the globe for at least $250. Knowing how much the cost of laptops have come down in recent years, I knew I could buy a new laptop for about that. But how would I afford such a thing when I struggle just to make ends meet from month to month?

I'm glad you asked. To answer that question, we have to rewind my life to roughly a week before.

It was a Monday afternoon. The same day that I went on a Chick-Fil-A/Goodwill/Sweet Frog adventure with a couple of my teacher friends. I was driving from Christiansburg, which is really just a stone's throw from my home in Radford. As I was stopped at a traffic light, I suddenly felt the jolt of a car smashing into my rear bumper. It wasn't really a smash. But it was definitely more than a light tap. We pulled into the nearby Wal-Mart parking lot, surveyed the damage, exchanged information and called it a day.

The damage to Half Pint was minimal. She received a slight crack and a couple dents that are hardly noticeable. In fact, I was told that the damage can't even really be seen unless you're really looking for it. That's good. Because I'm the kind of person that doesn't so much care about what my car looks like, as long as it gets me from point A to point B without any hassle. A dent on the rear bumper? I honestly couldn't care less about the thing.

But I called her insurance people to make the claim anyway. I didn't know what options I had, so I thought I'd just see what would happen. Turns out, they just wanted to meet with me, survey the damage themselves, then cut me a check. The idea is that I would take the money they gave me and then take my car to the body shop of my choice and replace the bumper using their funds. I met with the insurance guy exactly a week after the accident. If you're keeping up with the timeline, that's the day after the death of my laptop.

Insurance Guy seemed to like me. We had a lot of good banter going. Made fun of a lot of the same reality TV shows, that sort of thing. He seemed to appreciate my honesty. Though, I'm not sure what I was being honest about that others, apparently, are dishonest about. So he told me that, if he were me, he wouldn't bother replacing the bumper. He said that getting the bumper replaced for $500 or more would not increase the value of the car by $500. He would just pocket the money and go on with his life as if nothing happened. He said that there was nothing illegal about doing this.

That's when I told him about my computer and how it had passed on to that great technological trash heap in the sky. I told him that, in my line of work, I need a computer to do all the paperwork I'm expected to submit on a daily basis. Without this insurance check, there would have been no way I could have afforded to purchase a new computer.

Now, here I sit, typing away on a brand new laptop. When all this was going down over the last couple weeks, I couldn't help but be struck by the way it all worked out. As a man of faith, I have to believe that God had a hand in it. What are the odds that I would just happen to be hit by a car while sitting at a stop light? We were both already stopped. The light had barely turned green and I was still waiting for the car in front of me to go. How is it that the insurance company could have given me a check that was just enough to cover exactly what I needed: new computer, file transfer service from the Geek Squad, Microsoft Office software. Kind of nice how all of that fit together in such a cohesive way. Separately, those events happening could have been chaotic and incredibly frustrating. Together, they turned out to be a blessing.

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