There wasn’t a full moon. It wasn’t Friday the 13th. No black cats crossed my path. Yet, it was undeniably one of those days when I felt cursed. It started with the demise of my coffee maker, followed by the nervous breakdown of my washing machine, and an unfriendly letter calling me for jury duty. I blatantly ignored all of the above so I could keep working. Unfortunately, my laptop was also showing signs of distress: Programs were crashing, screens were freezing, and error messages were flying left and right.

Suddenly, my screen went blank. For a moment, I just sat, stunned. Then I shrieked and started pressing the power button hysterically. But I got nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. No happy little chimes or cute little spinning icons. It was completely, utterly dead.

In a panic, I called the EMT’s at Apple Support.

“Is it terminal,” I asked.

“It doesn’t sound good, “ said the Genius on the other end of the line. “You better bring it in.”

Two hours later I sat patiently in the waiting area at an Apple store in the nearby mall, cradling my laptop and talking to it in soothing tones.

“Don’t worry,” I whispered. “I’m sure it’s just a corrupt file or a software problem. You’ll be fine.” I rocked it gently, not wanting to alarm it.

Other people filled the benches, similarly consoling their laptops, tablets and phones. Up at the Genius Bar, a woman began to cry. “You can’t retrieve my data?!?” she sobbed. I cringed and held my laptop closer.

Finally they called my name.

“Let’s take a look at the patient,” said the Genius. He “hmmm’d” and “tsssk’d” as he tried to get my laptop to start, first on its own, then with his hard drive, then with some voodoo black magic. Finally, I saw the familiar Apple icon light up on the screen and I breathed a sigh of relief. He held up his hand.

“Hang on,” he said. “We’re not out of the woods, yet.”

I gnawed my fingernails. He ran a diagnostic. And then he looked at me gravely. “It’s the hard drive.”

I looked around desperately. Others who could overhear avoided my eyes. They all KNEW.

“What does that mean,” I asked, knowing full well what it meant.

“We have to replace the hard drive.” He paused, and then said gently, “We will try to retrieve your data but it may not all be retrievable. You need to sign this form giving us permission to attempt this.”

I scanned the form. The words blurred. I blindly scribbled my name. Then he collected the papers and picked up my laptop. I reached out my hand to stop him.

“Where are you going with it,” I asked.

“I’m taking it to triage. They’ll work on it there.”

“How long?”

“Seven to 10 days,” he replied and disappeared through an unmarked door.

I stood alone. Emotionally naked. Laptopless.

It had been an awful day. The prospect of facing an empty desk and a basement filled with piles of dirty laundry that I couldn’t wash was more than I could bear.

But as I stood there despondent, I realized three things and my black mood began to melt away.
I still had my health, I still had my credit card, and, quite fortuitously, I was in the mall.
For more Lost in Suburbia, Follow Tracy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage and Twitter @TracyBeckerman.