Wednesday, October 19, 2005

You Could Hear a Laptop Drop



I wipe my hands clean (and oh, they are indeed filthy) of these crap pieces of Japanese machinery known as student notebook computers. Now, it's time to get back to the business of blogging. Huzzah!

Well, sort of... You see, as always, there are a few stragglers, a few hangers-on, a few stubborn... what's the word...... bumpkins? Fine, bumpkins.

Actually, I'm lucky to still have a job. In the ongoing poker game between myself and my workplace, my rough calculations have me about $2200 in the hole - a substantial figure by anyone's measure.

Here's what happened. As I have mentioned numerous times in other posts, the only thing I've been doing these past couple of weeks is to take each student's personal computer (at last count there were 252 of them), scan them for viruses, and, if clean, set them up to be used on the wireless network we have here at the school. Think of a Starbucks hotspot, but covering an entire dormitory, and one only certain people (in this case, our students) would be able to access. On day two of this process, I had my arms full with about 20 wireless network cards when I tripped slightly on a frayed rug and a few went flying - one of them right onto the keyboard of a nearby notebook. You can guess what happened. Off came the number 6...... oops.

Actually, at the time I didn't think this a big deal. I tried to put it back on myself only to break the spring the key sits on. Still, how much is a number 6, albeit a Japanese number 6, going to cost? A fucking fortune, as it turns out. In what surely must be one of the more unnoticed cases of conspiratorial corruption, you cannot replace a single key on a laptop keyboard. No no, you have to replace the entire keyboard. Further, this being a Japanese keyboard, you can not easily do so if said keyboard currently resides in the picturesque, yet skanky borough of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts - at least not with this manufacturer. The entire machine has to be handed over to the geniuses at Fujitsu (the crappity assholes who make the thing - and who have computer service centers only in Japan) who will then keep it for a few weeks, fix it, and then send it back to you with a brand spanking new number 6. Total cost? Several thousand yen. To quote Inspector Gadget, "Wowsers." The student, surprisingly, wasn't pissed - at all. In fact, she was content to take her computer back and keep it for the semester. When she gets back to Japan, she'll get the keyboard replaced herself and then send us a bill. So, that little issue has been skirted for now.

The very next day however, after having whipped out my geek cap and buck teeth, I was transporting about nine laptops down the hallway using an A/V cart. For no reason other than sheer fate, one of them came leaping off the top of the cart and crashed with a sickening thud and crack, landing on the wireless card that had already been inserted, forcing it into the computers motherboard and warping the entire chassis. The machine, unbelievably, still works aside from the now broken PCMCIA slots (the thin ports on the side where you insert the cards.) On the plus side, the student now has an ergonomically designed keyboard where before there was none. Still, this one will require the purchase of a brand new machine - again, only available for purchase and shipping within Japan. Total cost? Another several thousand yen, assuming we can ever buy it. It's been sold out for weeks. This student is understandably more frustrated, but manages to keep a positive attitude - even around me, Clutzy McClutzy - although I think for a while she was blatantly swearing at me in Japanese, and I, not speaking a lick, remained oblivious to the entire diatribe. Ignorance is bliss.

So, how did I make up for all those unnecessary costs the school hath incurred because of moi? Easy. I worked untold hours of unpaid overtime.. including one fourteen hour stretch through the weekend. Plus, I figure they already factored the costs in when they hired me, which is part of the reason I get paid so little. Regardless, it was a humbling experience, to say the least. Break two computers which aren't your own, and your first instinct is to run. When you realize it's not possible to do that and still keep your job, your second instinct is to lie - a lot. When you realize it's not possible to do that and still keep your spot in heaven, your third instinct is to settle for hell. That's not a viable option, really, so in the end I decided to tell the truth... which is why I'm able to sit here at my desk, still employed, and write a blog post during my, um... lunch break.

The lesson? Japanese laptops suck, and all things work out when you stay honest. True dat. Cue Alfonso Ribeiro and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

"Mr. Robinson! Mr. Robinson! Oh, what a terrible mess! I broke your window with my ball..... and I've come to confess!"

Aaand fade to black......


Blogger Jesse Anna Bornemann said...

I never liked the number 6, anyway. We can all agree that 5 is necessary (fingers, toes, etc.). And seven is dwarves, deadly sins, brides for brothers, etc. 6 is just in the way.

My Toshiba is making a repeated snapping sound - like an internal Sharks and Jets rumble. Is that bad?

9:44 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Eek - it usually isn't good. Is this something that's happened since you owned it or is it a more recent ocurrence?

10:47 AM  

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