Does Not Compute


About a year and a half ago I found myself in need of a computer. I considered splurging on a Mac, but then I saw an ad in Craig’s List for refurbished notebook PCs for a hundred bucks. I did the math in my head. If this computer lasted for a year, it would be the equivalent of a thousand dollar Mac lasting for ten years. I called the number in the ad.

A man breathing heavily answered. I asked if he had any of his computers still for sale.

“Yeah. We’re about to close up though.”

I asked for some details about the computer. He was no-nonsense.

“It’s a hundred dollar computer. Do you want it or not?”

The address of his business was not too far from where I lived in Los Angeles. It was on the second floor of a furniture store off Pico. The stairway was tricky to find and there was a bizarre travel agency next to where the computer salesman set up shop. But there it was. My new computer. It was a heavy duty piece of machinery. It looked like the type of computer the military carried around to launch nuclear weapons. It needed to be plugged in at all times, but provided all the functions I needed. It had word processing capabilities, was able to run my screenwriting program, and had wireless internet. It even came with a variety of solitary card games.

“I’ll take it. Here’s eighty dollars.”

“You want me to throw in my kidney too? The price is a hundred. Non-negotiable.” I handed him the money, but was able to wrangle a mouse into the deal too.

The computer has done me well. I have written many magical scenes on it including the first ten pages of my new assignment. I felt the energy flowing and was ready to add to the opus when I turned the computer on and it did not start. There was a black screen flashing the words, “NTLDR is missing.”

I was devastated. I had not saved my work on a hard drive. The first ten pages might not have been gold, but they came easily and seemed like a good start. If they were lost forever then the project was cursed and I’d be doomed to spend money on a new computer.

I went on to Facebook and harassed anyone I knew who had knowledge of computers. One wise guru saved my life. Once I was able to log on to my parents’ computer he directed me through a many step process to get my computer back up. At one point the directions went beyond my capability and through a website he was able to control the computer I was on in Miami with his several thousand miles away. This blew my mind. It seemed as futuristic as a flying car or a time machine.  

By inserting the cd that he downloaded from my parents’ computer by remote into my own computer’s drive I was able to access my files. As long as I have that cd when my computer reboots I can continue writing the script and I can avoid for a little bit longer spending real money for a real computer.

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