My Week Without a Screen

Recently, my husband Vilis and I spent a week mostly vacationing in a remote location we frequent, where my Mac laptop screen died. It’s really a lovely digital tombstone, with prism-like colors shooting off in all directions from a crack I allegedly caused, but the screen is useless. And Vilis, who is connected to his laptop the way I am to my phone — a lot — would only give me enough time to write this.

In a city such as El Paso, I could make an appointment at an Apple store’s Genius Bar. Some young person with genius-level skills (obviously) would take a look and send it off to the great Apple repair shop far away, from which it would return to me in Marfa in a nice box and protected by Styrofoam (environmentally bad, but good for the laptop). The problem is that we were two hours from the nearest Apple Store, which had no appointments available for eight days. The next nearest stores or Apple certified technicians were six hours distant, with appointments only as soon as we’d be passing through on our way home anyway.

There were other options. Apple’s customer care (the greatest customer service reps ever), will gladly send you a paid-return box (also with Styrofoam). Your ailing Mac speeds off to repair heaven, magic happens, and it returns. There are two catches. First, you have to get customer care on the phone. This is usually easy. Request a call online, they call you in seconds. My problem? Verizon was in and out, and every call back from Apple went to voicemail.

Second, where would they send the box? We had an alleged address on a county road, but there were no indications for the turn off, and the house numbers were long gone from falling off of rusty nails or turning into flakes from the UV. We could have used the address of someone we knew in the area, but he’d hold our box hostage while sharing his latest conspiracy theory at great length. And even then, Apple would send it back to Marfa anyway, after we returned. Plus, how to even schedule a pickup from our unnumbered abode? We hadn’t seen a FedEx or UPS truck out there ever.

The obvious choice was to drive an hour to a FedEx Office or library and use their equipment. Expensive at FedEx, and even more spendy and limited at the rural libraries. Another idea would be to drive that hour and buy an inexpensive Chromebook, say, at Best Buy. But that’s a waste of money when an elderly backup laptop waits at home.

As I spent too much time thinking about this, a day or three passed. The need for a laptop screen melted away, and my phone gave me all the political fixes and hiking directions needed. Except for writing this column, anything not possible on a phone could wait (and you may well argue this could have waited…forever).

The moral of the story, if there is one, is that I spent hours trying to fix my Mac screen situation that didn’t need fixing. And this is exactly why Apple is the largest company by market value in the 50 states.

Tom Jacobs is a partner with Huckleberry Capital Management, a boutique registered investment advisory serving clients throughout the US from offices in Marfa, Silicon Valley, and Asheville. You may reach him at [email protected] and 432-386-0488. If you dare.