Gwyn needed a new computer. We knew that for almost the entire year but made do with a random assortment of other machines: mine, a work computer, a laptop borrowed from my parents. We sort of kept an eye out for a new one but hadn’t yet intensified our search. We were hemming and hawing, unwilling to pay the necessary price for a powerful, reliable laptop. My dad weighed in and suggested we go for an iPad with a keyboard—less expensive and just as functional. Still, we waited.
Then, the other day we walked into Best Buy. Not for a computer, really, but for a lightning to headphone jack adapter for Gwyn’s phone. We found it quickly, and then I said I wanted to browse the CDs. Gwyn made fun of me for being the last person on earth who remembers what CDs are and then set off for the laptops, “just to get a feel for what they have.” Within five minutes she came back and told me that the sales rep had shown her this great open box laptop with its price nearly cut in half. We bought it.
That night, in a hotel room in Lansing, I spent three hours trying to get the computer’s speakers to work. I downloaded the latest audio drivers, installed them, uninstalled them, installed them again. I restarted the laptop at least fifteen times. I accessed the BIOS (I now know that’s a thing) and attempted to disable and re-enable the sound card. I stared red-eyed at deep recesses of IT forums and computer support pages. I did everything I could apart from securing a masters degree in computer science and diving right into the motherboard. Nothing worked. Not a single fix fixed a single thing.
I became irrationally and almost uncontrollably angry. I felt swindled and mocked, taken advantage of. There is nothing that can make me so angry so quickly as technology that doesn’t work the way it should (except, maybe, someone driving dangerously). In this case, reason played no part in my rage. I had the receipt, and we purchased a one year warranty, so everything would be covered and our money returned. The hours spent losing my will to live as I tried to repair the speakers probably put me into an incredibly unreasonable state of mind.
Gwyn brought the laptop back the next day. They gave her three options: 1) fix the computer on the warranty, though it would take at least two weeks. 2) Return it and receive a full refund. 3) Pay $80 and get the same computer, unopened and at a bargain price. We chose option three, but when we got home and looked closely, we noticed they gave us the model below the one we had previously purchased—less memory, less storage, smaller processor. We didn’t even take the plastic wrap off. It’s going back on Monday.
The moral of this parable? Never buy a computer. They never should have been invented. Never buy a computer on a bargain because bargains are a lie. Everyone in the sales world is out to rip you off.
Or, maybe, the moral is this: it’s okay. It’s only a computer.
Brad Zwiers (’12) graduated from Calvin College in 2012 and Western Theological Seminary in 2015. He will not be graduating from any more schools. He often stares at books he wishes he could read but knows he will not finish and goes for long walks with his wife, Gwyn. Sometimes he plays basketball and always he follows the greatest sporting club in the world, Liverpool F.C.