My Laptop Got Stolen and All I Got Was This Lousy Blog Post
I am part man, part laptop, all content-generating machine. My laptop isn’t just my instrument as a writer and my constant companion, it’s like a goddamn part of me. I’m like a fucking android, or James Woods in Videodrome. My computer is my friend. We are constant companions, intimate collaborators. My computer completes me.
I’m not a Luddite I suppose is what I’m saying. Because my computer is so important, and because I am deeply neurotic, I’ve long been terrified that I will lose my computer, or it will be stolen, or it will be broken or corrupted. These fears have been particularly acute when I’ve been traveling. On the trips that produced You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me, for example, I was constantly inundated with ominous visions of my computer and my luggage being violently separated from me as I careened helplessly down some highway on a Greyhound bus.
These fears have not been unfounded. When I was working on Weird Al: The Book, a bottle of Coca-Cola corrupted my hard-drive and I had to pay something like two thousand dollars to get it repaired. About a year ago my wife placed our 3 year old in my lap, not knowing there was already a laptop in it, cracking the screen instantly.
Most recently, I went to the mall on Sunday to retrieve my computer from the Apple store where it was being fixed. I didn’t bring my backpack to put it in. Instead I put it snugly in one of those minimalist all-white bags Apple adores. We went to the Disney Store with the boys. Then I went to the bathroom to change Harris, my seven month old.
Being neurotic, I brought the laptop in the bag with me into the bathroom, because I did not want to be apart from it for even a few minutes. I did not want to let it out of my sight. Alas, I got distracted changing my son and left the bag in the bathroom. I realized what had happened a few minutes later and then raced back to the bathroom to retrieve my laptop but it was too late. The all-white bag that acted as infernal camouflage in that white bathroom was there, but the laptop was not.
In a blind panic, I went to mall security and they made it very apparent that there was almost no chancre of me getting back my computer, but also that they wouldn’t bother to look for it because to do so would probably be a waste of their time.
I was fucked. An hour earlier I’d gotten my computer fixed. Now it was gone. It had been completely wiped post-fixing so I imagine it was a pretty appealing target for a thief. To really twist the knife, when I applied for financing for a replacement computer, I got turned down. I’ve been taking on more and more credit card debt after my three best-paying outside columns were all axed and now I was facing the consequences.
The Apple salesman felt sorry for me he gave me 100 bucks off my purchase, a pity discount I happily accepted. It fucking sucked. It really did. What I’d been desperately afraid of for decades had happened. It was awful but it wasn’t the end of the world.
It was not the first time a worst-case scenario had occurred, that something that I’d been ferociously neurotic about for years ended up happening. It’s getting to the point where worst-case scenarios aren’t all that unusual. I know the business of pop culture media seems to be getting more prohibitively difficult and impossible by the day.
The older I get, the more survival seems like an incredible achievement in itself. Just to stay in the game is a goddamn triumph. Some days it takes all your energy and will and belief just to keep going. And then some motherfucker steals like your laptop and you feel like a shitty digital age version of the dude from The Bicycle Thief.
But you know what? I’m still fucking here. It sucks that my laptop was stolen but I survived. It’s in the past tense now and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that it does not happen again.
It’ll take more than a purloined laptop and the death of my industry to make me quit. It helps that I literally don’t know how to do anything else professionally but mostly I’m lucky in that I fucking love what I do enough that I’m willing to put up with all of the bullshit that comes with it.
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