Giving the computer the boot

The computer crash at first seemed like an easy fix — just have to reinstall the operating system, said “Dave,” the Dell tech guy in India.

Over the phone “Dave” walked me through the steps. And then we got to the part where he asked me to punch in my password. Um....  This password was a case-sensitive-at-least-eight-character-one-non-numerical code that I had supposedly “committed to memory” about seven years ago.

“What if I can’t remember it?” I asked “Dave.”

“Well, we could rewrite the hard drive, sir, but you’d lose all your data."

That was not an option.

I tried to conjure up the password from the depths of my cranium, revising old phone numbers, pet names, birthdays of of old girlfriends — anything that could have been used as a code — but no combination worked. It was no use. I’d never remember. So the next day I toted the tower to the Geek Squad to have the hard drive data downloaded onto CDs.

The Geeks told me it would be a 24-to-48-hour job. What they didn’t tell me was that there was a waiting line.

So after 10 days, I got my discs and I was prepared to rewrite the hard drive with the help of the guys back in Delhi.  But when I tried to start the computer again, it wouldn’t boot up.

“How could this happen?” I asked the guy in India, “Jack.” 

“You have a bad hard drive, sir,” he said.

So instead of rewriting the hard drive, I wrote its obituary.  And I ordered a new one. It arrived in two days. It was the wrong one. So I ordered a new one. It arrived in 10 days. And it worked. It was then that I realized just how close I had come to disaster.

I installed the new hard drive, uploaded the CDs from the Geek Squad and discovered that the Geeks hadn’t gotten all of my data off the corrupt hard drive. Missing were all of my manuscripts — seven years of my career — and anything associated with the Administrator.  All the important stuff, in other words.

Back to the Geek Squad.

“How could that happen? Had the original hard drive been OK and had I rewritten it — which was the original plan — all of the data you hadn't retrieved would have been lost,” I said.

The Geek shrugged, unaware that I wanted to leap over the counter and choke him. Well, he found the data eventually and put it on a new CD. Finally, I was ready to fly again.

Which I did. For five days. Then the computer shut down again. 

So I called the boys in Delhi once more. This time I talked to “Bill,” and in no time he was talking me through open-heart surgery over the phone. He had me cracking open the chassis, yanking scuzzy cables and pushing buttons and checking lights. Finally he diagnosed the problem.

“I think your mother board is bad, sir,” he said. 

“How could that happen?” I asked. “The computer isn’t that old.”

“How old is your computer, sir?”

“Seven years,” I said.

“Hahahahahahaha,” he said, caught himself and added, “sir."

Well, at least he was polite as he ridiculed me. Then he asked if I wanted to be transferred to the parts department to order a new one.

“No, thank you, ‘Bill’,” I said and thanked him for his time, even though it was tomorrow already where he was and therefore he had plenty of time on his hands.

Then I hauled the junk to the garage, got in the truck and bought a Mac.

— 30—

Collected written works  |  Gary Marx


Looking for a Chicago

    Dog in Cow Town

In Death’s Waiting


Living in Interesting


Remembering 9/11

In Defense

    of Meandering

O Little Town

    of Mythlehem

A Minor Distraction

The Depth of These


Musings on the Plaza,

    and a World at War

The Tale of the

    All-Seeing Bob

Morning Drive

    on the First Day

Fruit Stands in October

Moving Day,

    Oscar Night