[With title apologies to the Bloodhound Gang]
My Mac burst into flames under my bed while I was asleep. Awoke to the sound of “FFFffffff,” which I thought was something tearing. I heard it again. And again. Then I smelled something acrid and wrong.
Jimm’s burst laptop and flamed piece of carpet.
So I am not Friday night drunk anymore, because it is 1:30 am Saturday and my nose grabs me and we go looking for where that smell is coming from. Because it was not the smell of a ripping poster. And I do not own any bunnies which would be eating the wallpaper. My nose goes to the kitchen first. Maybe I left on the stove. Maybe I was in the middle of making some drunken spaghetti when I decided it was time to go to sleep. Maybe. Maybe not. And then I heard it call me again.
Oh man. Is it the fan? What is it?
This time my ear pulls me towards that sound. Back into my bedroom.
E-mailing from bed. It’s a nasty habit. So I usually slip my computer near my bed before I go to sleep. I keep my Mac on a thin cutting board on my carpeted floor, under my bed. I got the free cutting board when I visited the big grocery store on Roosevelt Island two years ago (another story in itself). The butcher offered it to me because she put the wrong cheese on my turkey sandwich. I have used it ever since as a mouse pad, a computer pad, and a moth killer. Never as a cutting board.
So on this night it was playing the role of computer pad. But on this night I had not put it too straight onto the pad. In fact, the hot hot battery part of the G4 Powerbook was a bit out on to the bare carpet, which doesn’t give much space for the fan to breathe.
And so tonight while me and the computer slept, both of us charging, it decides to speak to me in a language I have not yet heard before.
Oh, it’s louder now. I reach under the bed and slide the Mac out quickly. The computer is white hot. My fingers get a little numb from touching it. As I pull it out smoke starts to come out.
More smoke. Oh shit. 911.
“Is it on fire?”
“I don’t know. Smoke is coming out like one of those smoke machines they use at Bar Mitzvahs or when the Miami Hurricanes run out onto the field.”
Here I am talking on my cell phone while my Mac is spitting out toxic upon toxic into my room. Casually talking while I am being gassed to death.
And then, while 911 was on the phone, it went up into flames.
“Oh wait, yep. It’s on fire. Yeah, I think you should come over.”
Fire extinguisher and out. That stuff is everywhere. All over my room.
Then the surreal scene of giant firemen in my apartment.
“Never seen that before.”
They take the battery out of my Mac. It needs to be deposed of professionally. They cut out the toxic part of my carpet where the fire happened. They let loose an industrial fan to blow out all the smoke through the window. I get interviewed for the fire report. They leave. I get a hotel.
The next day was an all day of cleaning my entire apartment.
The melted, dusty shell of my Mac was left behind.
And I was never that angry.
I was so grateful to be alive that I really treated it like one of those things. Most of my stuff was backed up. Not everything, but most. the music and the client files. Like I said, most.
And I call Mac.
“Customer service, how can I help you?”
“Hi, my G4 Powerbook burst into flames last night while it, and I, were asleep. I was wondering who I could talk to about this?”
“What is your serial number, sir?”
(sounds of scraping)
“Hold on, I am trying to scrape away all the burned metal to see if I can read it.”
Soon enough, I think he got it and he put me on the line with a nice guy named Geoff. I had an interview for over an hour about everything. And then he had some requests: the fire report, my serial number and the computer.
Now I could have certainly been angry and all lawsuity. I want justice. I want a new G4.
But I was mellow. Geoff was mellow. All was mellow.
And I just really wanted another Mac. Because, they are not cheap and I am not rich. I didn’t even want to be reimbursed for my hotel or the cleaning supplies. My apartment was already a mess and in need of a good cleaning, and I needed a tiny vacation. (Man, some lawyer I would have been.)
So I decided to cooperate. Because somehow, someway I still truly believed in the Apple brand.
Under all the white space and dancing silhouettes occupying our cities, I know Apple is one of those companies that takes these things seriously. They care about the Apple people. I believed Geoff when he told me he wanted as much information as he could gather to help the engineers figure out why other Macs would say “FFFFFFFffffffff” in the middle of the night. And if Geoff was from Dell or IBM or Sony I really don’t think I would have believed him. For some reason, with Apple, I felt part of the family, helping to make sure this didn’t happen again.
For some reason I thought I would be treated fairly.
And I was.
I got Geoff what he wanted. The fire report. My serial number (from the dealer I bought it from). The machine itself.
And then, a few days later, I got the very Mac Book Pro I am typing on.
The funny thing is, a Mac almost killed me, and I came out of the whole experience feeling more strongly about Apple as a company.
It is like we had a fight, with knives and foreign objects and the authorities involved, but in the end, right before the credits roll, right before we look at each other covered in dirt and blood and soot and ripped clothes, we see eye to eye, human to human, me and the brand, and we shrug it off, make it even, manage a hug and keep walking together.