Technical Difficulties
Bill Simmons [ARCHIVE]
December 28, 2012
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The "T" on my ThinkPad flipped off last week as I was typing. My natural instinct was to blame my hellion son or my unlucky dog, Rufus, since they cause 99.99 percent of the disasters in my house. But I've only had this laptop for five months — it usually takes two years for my keyboard to start falling apart like it's Arian Foster on your 2013 fantasy team. How could this happen?

My wife (a longtime MacGyver wanna-be) thought she could Super Glue the "T" back on the keyboard, which made me nervous because Super Glue is probably the most misunderstood product on the planet. You use Super Glue to fix a broken chair, or maybe even the face mask of an autographed Mark Sanchez helmet that you just threw against the wall. You shouldn't use it for anything electronic; it just ends up making an already sticky situation stickier. One stuck "T" and one domestic argument later, I found myself back where I started. Thankfully, I had purchased something called "three-year onsite NBD and three-year priority support and three-year ThinkPad Protection" for $269 when I bought my laptop last June, which meant that if anything happened to my laptop, a technician would arrive the following day to fix it. I called Lenovo, banged out a service order and that was that.

The next day, Lenovo e-mailed me some bad news: My part was on back order and wouldn't be available for five to seven business days. (Random note: I love when the phrase "business days" gets involved — sports teams should start using that for injured athletes so it sounds like they're coming back sooner than they are. When Gronk broke his forearm, the Pats should have announced that he'd be out for 25 business days — I would have felt so much better.) I did the math and realized that "five to seven business days" really meant "You're screwed, we're not fixing your laptop until after Christmas." The good news was that Lenovo would be keeping my $269 for "three-year onsite NBD and three-year priority support and three-year ThinkPad Protection" out of good faith. Cool. Thanks, Lenovo.

That left me with three choices …

1. Write my Week 16 column on a keyboard that looks like this.

(Doable, but immensely frustrating. You don't realize how many T's there are until you have to slow down every time you're about to type one. That last sentence had nine "T's. Really, it couldn't have been a "Q" or a "Z" that came off?)

2. Write my Week 16 column on my BlackBerry. (Yes, I still use my BlackBerry even after breaking up with it five different times — I hate typing on touchscreens.) Then I could e-mail it to Grantland's copy desk through my AOL account, and maybe even post the eventual link on my Angelfire blog.

3. Bring my old 2009 laptop out of retirement with the same thinking that the Steelers used for Charlie Batch last month, right down to the condition of the laptop (far too creaky, thoroughly beaten up), my expectations (I just wanted it to manage the game for me without any killer turnovers) and the constant terror (not just that things would fall apart at any time, but that I'd lose my work even though I was saving it). There's a 90 percent chance my old laptop is possessed by an evil spirit — everything is going fine when, suddenly, keys stop randomly working, everything goes haywire and this happens.

I went with ThinkPad Charlie Batch and hoped for the best. And just like the Steelers-Ravens game in Week 13, something magical happened — that beaten-up computer somehow cranked out a massive holiday mailbag without totally falling apart. Near the end, it was running on fumes of its fumes. The "8" and "9" keys stopped working, and at one point everything just shut down without any warning. (Somehow I had just saved my Word document 45 seconds before it happened.) Charlie and I made it to the finish line and mailed in the column. Not even 20 minutes later, everything was flashing and Charlie had to be carried out on a virtual stretcher — all we were missing were other laptops praying in a circle as Dan Dierdorf said, "Well, you always hate to see this happen."

I spent the next few days learning how to write with a missing "T" key and wondering what would have been the best way to set that $269 on fire, ultimately deciding on 269 one-dollar bills because that would have generated the most smoke. By Thursday (the seventh and allegedly last "business day"), I thought I'd call Lenovo to check in on my new keyboard. The technical support lady quickly called up my case, eventually leading to this exchange.

TSL: "I'm showing the part will arrive tomorrow. An on-site technician will contact you then."

Me: "Tomorrow — that would make eight business days. You guys said five to seven."

TSL: "Well, we didn't have the part, so … "

Me: "I write for a living — keyboards are kind of important for typing. I paid extra for next-day repair and support because I wanted to make sure I always had a laptop that worked."

TSL: "You should have the new part tomorrow. Someone will call you."

Me: "We just passed 240 hours since my first support call … is it possible that I mistakenly bought 240-hour support?"

TSL: "We do apologize, sir."

Me: "If I wanted to tell you to F off, should I do it once right now, or repeatedly over the next five to seven business days in Lenovo time so you could hear me telling you to F off for two straight weeks?"

Just kidding, I didn't say that. I'm sure my new keyboard will probably arrive as you're reading this week's column. Thanks again, Lenovo!

We're dedicating these Week 17 picks to Andy Reid, Norv Turner, Romeo Crennel, Chan Gailey and Pat Shurmur … five coaches who will be sorely missed by everyone who writes snarky football columns for a living. I'm welling up just thinking about it. If there are a couple of T's missing in what you're abou to read, I know you'll undersand.


Jets (+3) over BILLS

At Stake: You mean, other than the AFC East's fourth-place schedule for 2013? This might be the last time we see Mark Sanchez wearing a Jets uniform, Tim Tebow wearing an NFL uniform, Ryan Fitzpatrick wearing anything other than a headset, Chan Gailey coaching a football team that isn't playing Division III, and Rex Ryan before he gets canned and ends up joining either Tirico and Gruden in ESPN's Monday Night Football booth or Dave Attell on Showtime's Dave's Old Foot-Fetish Porn. Even people in Buffalo don't want to watch this game — it's blacked out in Western New York.

The Pick: When in doubt, take the points — especially when the underdog's coach has beaten the favorite's coach five straight times by an average of 19 points. Speaking of the Jets, I enjoyed these two e-mails …

From John D. in...
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