Apparently I’m famous in the local Costco now.
This sordid tale begins last Thursday night when my 20-gig iPod died.
It had been acting up for the last couple months, freezing up and not connecting with the iTunes program. I’ve been making quick fixes after begrudgingly reading the owner’s manual at my wife’s insistence.
Then Thursday night the little screen turned pitch black. I was plunged into mourning.
I admit it. I’ve become too close to my iPod, a proud member of the cult in our newsroom. My family has relented, throwing an iPod-themed birthday party where new accessories were bestowed, such as the speaker set that allows me to spread iPod-induced joy around the house.
My son is a cult member. He dressed as an iPod for Halloween.
Life without the iPod is just inconceivable, and by early the next morning I realized drastic action was needed.
Our local mall has an Apple store, and I thought surely the people there could resuscitate it. I was there when the doors opened at 10:30 a.m. and ran to the first clerk I spotted, waving my darkened pod and calling for help.
She kind of rolled her eyes and told me to sign in and a "genius" would be out to help me.
Apparently that’s what they call their tech support people. I suppose it’s better than being on Best Buy’s Geek Squad.
Sure enough, the store has a bar that looks like a trendy saloon without the booze. I hopped up on a stool and out came a kid with spiky hair who might have been all of 22. I sensed some attitude.
What he said: "OK, who’s my first victim of the day?"
What he was probably thinking: "Belly up, geezers. Who can’t figure out how to turn on their computer?"
Me, emotionally: "It’s dead."
What he said, looking at the black screen: "Yeah, it is."
What he was probably thinking: "Thank goodness — the world will be spared a dose of Flock of Seagulls and whatever other kind of crap this guy has crammed on there. I bet he’s got all the Twisted Sister CDs on here. I’d be doing a public service by stomping in the thing."
My helpful friend slipped the iPod from its plastic case, then discovered it’s an HP+iPod — I had no idea there was a difference — and said he couldn’t do anything with it, and that I’d have to contact Hewlett Packard.
Can’t say I was thrilled with that prospect, because tech support over the phone is next to impossible.
But Monday I found the phone number buried deep, deep, deep on the HP Website and spoke to a guy named Carlos who confirmed that a pitch black screen is a "very bad thing." He took my information and referred me to HP’s warranty department, which e-mailed back that unless I had a receipt, I was pretty much out of luck.
Naturally, that receipt is looooong gone, like a Carlos Delgado blast.
I was glumly contemplating life without the iPod — unthinkable! — as I saved up for a new one, since $300 is not something I can justify tossing around. I even jumped around the iTunes program on the computer, listening to songs that used to be on my iPod.
And the clerk was wrong, by the way. I do not have every single Twisted Sister song on there. There are a couple tracks here and there that just didn’t hold up over time that I had to delete. At least five of them. Maybe six. So there.
My clever mother suggested checking with Costco, the glorious warehouse store where the iPod was obtained. She said the store probably saves such information on its computer. It was worth a shot.
I headed right over, told the clerk about my issue and she went right to the computer and confirmed that I did indeed purchase an iPod last March.
"Do you have the manual, the installation disk and the wires and stuff?" she asked.
"Sure, everything but the box," I replied. "But all HP wants is a receipt."
"No, bring all those things back here and you can return it."
Say what? I was confused. Did she mean that they would send the deadPod to HP for me?
No. She said I could bring the remains back to Costco and they would give me a new one.
"Hold on," I said. "You know it’s dead. El iPodo es muerto. Are you saying that you would take it back and give me money to buy a new one?"
"No, we’ll give you store credit, since you don’t have the receipt. But yes, you could get a new one with store credit."
Suddenly it sunk in. The sad, un-iPodless portion of my life was going to be short. Emotion took over.
"Yes!" "I apparently said while jumping with fists pumped in the air. If I had a glove in my hand, it would have gone Orosco. "I love this store!"
I was back at the counter in less than an hour, the departedPod and all its possessions gathered in a Ziploc bag. A new, gleaming 30-gig iPod was there in sight.
"We were all talking about you," the bemused clerk said with a smile. "We’ve never seen anybody so enthusiastic about a return before."
I guess they’ve never seen someone forcibly detached from their iPod.
Today, the sun came up, bunnies frolicked on the lawn in the morning dew, and Twisted Sister was once again heard bouncing through the speakers as I drove to work. It is a good day.