April 22, 2006

E-mail History: 1999: Mac Financier Foiled

Just trolling through older e-mail after coming home from yet another tremendous A's victory against the rival Angels, when I ran across a plan in 1999, where I offered one of my best friends enough money to buy a new computer after his last one bit the dust. The idea was that he would use the money to but a Macintosh, and then we'd work with him to get the software he needed to get up and running. The loan could be paid back easily, at $100 a month, no interest, until it was resolved.

I had entered into this contract because I had nearly a full year in Silicon Valley under my belt, and felt I could afford $800 or so, while I was also very eager to get my friend moved from the PC "dark side" to Macintosh. I knew that for sure he would be happy with his move, and I would do whatever I could to support his choice.

But, weeks later, after my check had cleared, he told me that a second friend had set him up with boatloads of pirated, free, Windows software, so he took the $800 I gave him and bought an no-name AMD machine, thinking he could mooch off both friends' generosity and get everything he wanted. I was furious, feeling that I had been tricked into being generous, and very nearly demanded he return the money to me, now that I knew he wasn't going to be added as an Apple customer, but joined the drones in lock step behind Microsoft. I felt betrayed, and that my opinion, which should have held some value, had been ignored. But I also was very concerned that if I fought too hard, I could lose the friend, one I intended to keep for life, over a stupid computer OS choice.

Friends fight and families fight. I had introduced new wrinkles in our relationship - technology and finances, altering our roles. For months afterwards, not only was our relationship strained as he struggled with his new computer, but we couldn't have a conversation without my thinking about how much money he owed me, or when the next check was coming. I think the strain was reaching him too, for after four months of $100 checks coming in regularly, the fifth month's check was for the remainder, ending his need to pay me, and ending my need to bug him for it, even though I still hadn't fully forgiven him for using Windows.

One good thing for me was that my expectations were proven right. When his computer finally came in, the trials were immediate. He wrote, in his "now online" e-mail,

"From late Thursday night, to early Saturday morning, I was TOTALLY (censored) PISSED and in a BAD (censored) mood! Although Windows 98 had already been installed on my computer, the (censored) computer wouldn't even complete the boot-up process whenever I turned the (censored) on. Even more perplexing, the computer would always seem to do something different, or achieve a different percentage of the boot before it (censored) up -- every single time I restarted! So it dind't seem like an error in the program.

To make matters even more annoying, everytime I turned off the monitor, I had to wait at least a minute to turn it back on again, or the thing would simply stay black. Granted, I bought the 17" for $169, but I still figured it would at least (censored) work! But it didn't (censored) work! And I didn't know what the (censored) to do! So I suffered for two days straight..."

For me, having him struggle was a dark, moral victory. I had been proven right, and several years later, he saw the light, moving to Apple. And I had been paid. But I felt that he should have listened, and I was mad at myself for having tried to put such a silly thing in front of a friendship that's lasted the better part of two decades.

Listening to ''Innocence'', by Paul Van Dyk (Play Count: 5)