The harrowing ordeal of computerlessness

Centuries from now, it is my hope that people of the future, when faced with adversity and challenges in life, will say what will surely become a reassuring phrase for the millennia: “May I overcome my challenge just as Mike Gibbons did.”

Yes, I hope I hope to serve as a beacon of hope in your darkest hours. When that metaphoric mountain of misery stares you down, remember that you – like me – can climb it. I am almost at the mountain top, and my journey will be soon be complete. And I will look back and say, I did it. I survived my computer being in the shop for, like, five days.

I knew something was wrong the other day when I turned on my computer and the screen turned to static. I could still see the desktop, but the static made it look as if a light summer rain had settled into my computer. I hit six or seven random combinations of keys, thinking one of them might contain the shortcut for “make screen not be staticky.” If there is that shortcut, I did not find it.

I did the obvious thing next, which was to turn it off and then back on. Same result. Clearly, I told myself, I had not turned the computer off for long enough, so I turned it off again and left my house for work.

That evening, I came home, confident that I had let my ailing computer sit for ample time. I turned it back on and guess what – no static! Yay, problem solved!

Oh, wait, did I mentioned it just sat on a plain blue screen? Yeah, at least with the static I could still see my desktop somewhat. I turned the computer off again and went to my phone. I Googled “stupid computer being stupid and not working” which did not result in a fix, but did include a result for an Onion article entitled “Computer being stupid,” which at least provided a break for levity.

When I refined my search (“stupid computer screen is all blue”), I eventually found several message boards where people had similar problems. Usually, the first couple of solutions involved various buttons you push when you restart your computer, which would make it boot up in certain modes. Pretty much the only one I felt comfortable with was “safe mode.” The others were out of my pay grade, especially when you start getting into abbreviations, such as “Reset NVRAM.” Not sure what NVRAM is, but what if it stood for “Now Violence Redirected Against Mike?” Unlikely, sure, but let’s not risk it.

Eventually, a little voice in my head said, “Hey, Mike – remember how  much you know about computers?” “Yes, very little,” I answered, much to the confusion of my wife. “Take it to the fix-it place,” the voice said.

The next day I dropped my computer off at the Apple store. I explained my problem, and the guy at the counter plugged a super special cable into my computer, smacked a few key strokes and, in about the time it takes to make a PB&J, informed me that my video card was shot. He also concurred that my screen was exceptionally dirty, and that he did not mind if I informed my kids that the reason the video card was shot was the same reason the screen was dirty – because they touched it. (It’s not a table or an iPhone. Why touch the screen? Why?)

So I handed him my computer and left the store, computerless and feeling afraid and alone. This, after all, was my lifeline to the world! How would I be connected? I mean, other than my phone, or my wife’s computer, or, maybe one of the kids’ computers. I suppose the iPad might work. But you get the point. The terrifying, scary point.

So I am now on day four without a computer. It has been difficult, and it is OK if you feel a tear welling up in the corner of your eye as you think about the challenge I have faced and so bravely overcome. I am hoping my computer is back in my possession soon, and I can back in touch with the world I once knew. I know my wife is looking forward to it. She’s kinda sick of me being on hers…

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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