When my laptop unhinged this morning, I unhinged.

4 days before a conference, the screen once connected by metal screws to the plastic strip base…is hanging on for dear life.

So, I ran over to the urgent care at Frye’s, with the purchase receipt from 2014.

Gently, I lifted my little writing companion, my R2D2, from the pink carrier pouch and placed it on the counter. I shook the pink sleeve upside down…a small black piece fell out. The young serviceman stared.

“Little black pieces have been breaking off every time I put my laptop down. It started last week. Yesterday I lifted it up from the couch where I worked…and a cascade of black chips clustered behind. The attachment piece is basically crumbling before me.”

“Where is the strip?”

I looked at space hinges and …no strip. “It must be laying on my desk when I picked it up to come here…I didn’t even notice.”

He listened, picked it up again and examined it every direction. Then he looked up parts at his desk PC …after a few minutes gave me a prognosis.

“No? You can’t fix it?” I asked incredulously.

“No, because the strip the screen is attached to is gone.”

“You mean I have to get a new computer. I bought this two and a half years ago! Never had a PC break like this. Have you seen this before.”

“A couple times. It’s best to open laptops from the middle top and not from both sides…”

“Really? I open it from both sides all the time. But I’ve never dropped it and it’s usually hooked at my desk. I don’t carry it around much.

He shook his head.

“You mean it can’t be fixed and I spent almost a K on this two years ago? He nodded no. I needed a second opinion. So, I headed over to Best Buy.

The young man at Best Buy shook his head too—but offered hope.

“Yes, we see this sometimes with laptops. It starts with malalignment.”

“A few weeks ago my husband noticed that when he opened it up. At first, it was a few pieces and then it just crumbled apart this week,”

“My Toshiba is starting to misalign too,” he gave me a knowing look.

“It would take us 2-3 weeks to order the parts and have it fixed for around $300 the screen ($150) and the hinges ($40-60).

“If you need it quick turnaround go to a mom and pop store.”

 “I need my documents from the PC for the conference…and I will have to use my IPad, which I only use for fun. Ugg. How do I transfer docs to it?”

He ran off and returned with a small box containing a cord that transfer documents to an iPad for around $40.

“Wow, I didn’t even know they made that….if I have google drive can I use the cloud?”

“Oh yeah, that’s a good idea.”

In the meantime, he told me how to download my docs, pics, and videos from the OS drive and I purchased a 64 GB flash drive to save my important content.

“Even if the screen goes out at any time, you can hook it to a monitor and still use the PC part.”

“Oh yes. My husband hooked it up to a monitor for me…Could you walk me through how to save the docs I need onto the flash drive?”

“Sure. Plug in flash 64 gigs. Open yellow folder. OSC drive (flash drive is under OSC)

Users will pop up on the right side column. Click and drop Users to Flash drive.”

Before I left he gave me the # to customer service # of my ASUS. (1-877-339-2787)  “You can call them but don’t expect to get anyone to answer on the other end. If you send it to them, they first send you a box and you send it back. It will take 6-8 weeks turnaround time.”

I headed over to the closest mom and pop, Core Tech, hoping my R2D2 might still be able to attend the conference with me.

After pulling out my sick friend from the pink pouch, along with the black crumble, the slim man in the polo shirt shifted his eyes from the counter to me.

“We only fix Apple”

Silence.

“Oh. Okay.” Pause. “Since I’m here could I ask what you would recommend as the best app to download my docs from this to my iPad on google docs?”

“Do you use Word?”

“Yes”

“Pages is the app they use.”

I began to peruse the app in my iPhone. He noticed.

“You will need your iPad to download the app because it is different for the iPhone, the iPad, and the Macintosh. The apps are all different”

“OH. I’ll wait until I get home to use my iPad.”

I turned the a/c higher to beat the triple digits in my mMazdaand headed over to Tech2U, a franchise computer repair shop.

“The guy at Best Buy said you might be able to fix this in a quicker turnaround than they can.”

I showed him the little black crumble and cradled the screen as it flailed on it’s base.

“Yes we see this all the time.”

“Really? Which computers?”

“All of them. See, they use metal screws and metal hinges. But most laptops use plastic strips to connect them to the screen. Over time the metal screws wear into the plastic holes and what is stronger. Metal is stronger than the strip. So the up and down motion over time…”

“Why don’t they make a metal strip? Stupid. Is my laptop generally a good one?”

“Yes, most laptops are the same. Plastic strips. Except Apple. They use metal.”

He looked at the ASUS logo. “We recommend ASUS and Lenovo for laptops”

“What would it cost to fix it?”

He scanned his work pc. “$150 for the screen. $120 labor, $4 plastic strip.

We order it from SoCal. It takes two business days to get here, then 2 days for us to fix it.”

I felt shaky. “’This feels similar to a car decision. Is this a total or should I put the money in to fix it?”

The man with the pukka necklace smiled. “I get asked that all the time…It’s a personal decision. Are you happy with it? Does it do everything you need it to? Or have there been things you would like it to do, but it doesn’t?”

“It does everything I need it to. I am fond of my R2 and don’t want to learn a new one—it will be hinged. We will work together again—after I return from the conference.”