May 25, 2009

How A Lone Nickel Almost Cost Me The Price of A New Mac

My MacBook Pro has been extremely reliable and loyal over the last two years, even after I foolishly chose to crush its monitor in a rented convertible at Spring Training in early 2008, forcing significant repair. But in April of 2009, I was sure I was going to have to take the laptop into the Apple Store, ostensibly to repair it at a steep cost of hundreds of dollars, or even be forced to upgrade, costing me a couple thousand dollars.

In addition to the occasional slowness one always perceives even with the fastest of last-generation computers, my laptop seemed to have loose parts in its housing. I was sure the CD-ROM mechanics were broken, as I couldn't insert discs and the machine would rattle when I picked it up to place in my computer bag, or moved from room to room. One knows it's never good to hear a rattling when they move their laptop around, and I was sure that the next time would be the last time I would start it up and it wouldn't crash for good. I even thought just maybe one of my memory sticks had broken away - which would be a perfect excuse for the perceived slowness.

Though I don't use CD-ROMs often, it became embarrassing to hand a CD to a friend (using Windows of course) at the office and ask them to put the disc's contents on the network for me to see it. What was wrong with my laptop, they asked... and I had no idea. But it was broken for sure.

I talked with my younger sister, who works in Apple Retail, what she thought I should do. She said to take it to a Mac genius. I would probably lose access to the computer for a few days, and the hardware repair would be in the high hundreds, assuming I wasn't covered by AppleCare. (Which I most likely am not.)

But on the night of April 24th, I looked down at my laptop to see the curve of a coin peeking from the CD-ROM drive. I deftly removed it, and it was a boring old nickel. (See my annoyance) Hopefully, I tilted the computer back and forth, and heard no rattling. It was a stupid nickel the whole time. And, as my twins are too young still to be up to such shenanigans, I knew the responsible party had to have been me. Somehow, I had a nickel loose in the laptop bag, and somehow, that nickel just so happened to get into the CD-ROM drive (as Apple doesn't have CD-ROM drive bay covers).

In the last month - no issues. CDs go in the drive just fine. The machine doesn't rattle. And I saved myself a good deal of potential embarrassment from having to go to the Apple Store and have them find out... it was a nickel.

So - am I the only one stupid enough to go through these things on a regular basis? I doubt it. Let me know if you've ever crossed the line from geek respectability to tech flunkie.