Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Misadventures in Electronics

I know that I've been rather remiss in keeping my blog au courant these past few weeks, but what with this and that, and a bit more of this, I've become a neglectful cow. And to make matters worse, I'm not even going to post the riveting conclusion to my last post (although I eventually will) but spin off in another direction altogether.

So instead of coiffures, I give you computers.

My laptop, purchased 3 1/2 years ago
in Morocco - with amazing ease and no cash down - is doing rather poorly. In a nutshell, it flickers. In all likelihood, this incessant flickering has more to do with the fact that I've hauled it across 3 continents (usually not in a padded laptop bag), tripped over its power cord literally dozens of times and sending it flying across the room, dropped it (a lot) and abused it in other diverse ways. Yes, the power jack, she is shot. In any case, I fear that I am now developing serious rage issues photosensitive epilepsy from said incessant flickering.

The price of fixing it is roughly the same as buying a new one. There's probably a tricky math equation in there somewhere but needless to say, it's not getting fixed any time soon. Compounded with my laptop's other indisposition - a battery with
the world's shortest charge - I've been in a leviathan more-than-average black crappy mood these past weeks.

So Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad suggested that we buy a mini laptop: they're awfully cheap and although not conducive to watching sweeping epic motion pictures on, will do the trick as a stop gap until we buy a regular laptop (
on which we can watch sweeping epic motion pictures). So we read reviews, checked the specs, visited the principle electronics stores in the area, compared prices, and yesterday - with a fistful of lira - popped down to the electronics shop around the corner from us. Because it is a major chain in Turkey, and their CEO might both be an avid reader of this blog and be a tad litigious, I'll just refer to the shop as That Crap Turkish Electronics Store.

We pop in - with a fistful of lira - and there is the laptop we want, kept securely behind barricaded glass doors. In its Istanbul chain, the same laptop sits happily on a display table where potential buyers might actually touch it - but no mind, perhaps Izmitites are, by nature, a thieving lot and extra security is de rigueur. We are ignored by the store's sales staff - which, because this is Turkey, means that there are four times as many staff as customers
- because we have been overheard speaking English and therefore have come equipped with a 10 foot pole. Had we not been overheard, we would have been harassed by every person in the store within seconds of entering it.

Finally I catch one Unlucky Girl's attention. In truth she cannot ignore me - although she no doubt wishes she could have - and I point to the imprisoned laptop in question and motion for her to free it from its glass cell so we can touch it, and maybe even buy it. No luck, she doesn't understand. She shrugs and looks blankly at us. I ask - or rather mime it - again. No go - we're shit out of luck and she has no intention of finding anyone in the store with a smidgen of English. She begins to walk away. On the verge of leaving
That Crap Turkish Store with a fistful of lira and no computer, I modify my charade to include an unlocking motion and Unlucky Girl's metaphorical light bulb (it is an electronics store, after all) flickers (momentarily) on.

She looks for help.

A moment later and she's hauled Unlucky Fellow in front of us. He's undoubtedly pissed because he had been successful in avoiding our glances earlier and
voilà! here he is serving us. He has enough wits about him to unlock the glass prison and allow us to touch the computer; however, he never actually turns it on. We explain (sort of - more charades) that we want to buy it - good thing we've test driven that model at other locations - and huzzah! he pops into the back room and returns with a boxed laptop. This is going so well!

We pay for the laptop - it comes to 615.55 lira - with exact change and we receive our receipt and a client loyalty card. He opens the box and from its deep recesses
releases our new laptop and turns it on. It works! We are very excited. No more flickering! No more pseudo-epileptic fits! He turns to us and mutters "English?" - what we assume is a hieratic version of "would you like the language of the operating system on your computer to be English?" and we nod enthusiastically. He begins to load Windows onto our laptop. We see a series of drop-down menus appear on the screen and then he walks away.

Where has he gone? I ask, for in his absence, nothing much happens. Shouldn't he be selecting menu options? I ask Mr. Cat's (Not) Abroad. As the words spill out of my mouth, another sales person who, until this moment has had nothing to do with our transaction, leans over the counter and arbitrarily starts pushing buttons. What is she doing? I ask. Stop touching our laptop! I spit- knowing full well that she has no clue what I am saying.

Unlucky Fellow returns and looks quizzically at our laptop. Soneone has played with the buttons. This does not bode well. He too taps a few keys. Finally we here the chirrupy Windows welcome tune and see welcome emblazoned on our laptop in Turkish. He looks at us. In unison, we shake our heads that no, Turkish is not acceptable. He reboots and starts from scratch. At this point a Pain in the Ass Customer appears and decides to toss in her two very limited cents' worth into the process. She goes behind the cash desk to assist him. I sincerely wish that she would just fuck off and stay away from our computer. It is, after all, our computer. I have a receipt and a client loyalty card to prove it.

For the second time, our computer welcomes us to its world in Turkish. Unlucky Fellow shows us the box in which the computer comes and explains "old box - not English". Old box? Are you serious? This has zippo to do with the box but everything to do with the fact that he doesn't know how to install Windows properly and there are too many Pinheaded Cooks in the Kitchen (the kitchen being behind the cash desk).

At this point, one might expect any or all of the following to happen:

a) Unlucky Fellow calls a manager over for assistance,
Unlucky Fellow asks that Pain in the Ass Customer to leave the secure area and mind her own beeswax,
Unlucky Fellow, who truly believes that the problem with the computer is that the English-only language box is old and therefore misleadingly does not contain an English operating disc, grabs another (maybe newer) box from the stockroom and tries again,
d) Unlucky Fellow calls the other handful of That Crap Turkish Stores in Izmit - and Istanbul if necessary - to order in a new one,
e) Unlucky Fellow offers us a comparable model for the same price,
Under no circumstances does Unlucky Fellow allow us to leave the store with a fistful of lira and no computer.

Of course, Option A should have taken care of everything but that never happened and nor did Options B to F. What did happen was that Unlucky Fellow voluntarily and rather arbitrarily processed a refund, handed me back my cash and confiscated my client loyalty card. And because this is Turkey where money is almost always rounded up (or down) rather than having to deal with the onerous task of counting out 5 kuruş coins (= 3 1/2 cents), I received a refund of 615.50 lira.

So just to sum up:

1) We left the shop without a computer, and
2) We left the shop 5
kuruş poorer than when we went in - in spite of the fact that I paid with exact change,

and thirdly,

3) my f-ing computer, on which I am tippy-tapping this blog post, is still flickering like hell.


Matthew G P Coe said...

Perhaps not an insightful comment, per se, but I’m the one saying, “Boourns! Booo-urns!”

That sucks out loud. At least the guy gave you the refund, though. I bet if it were any similarly crap electonics store in Toronto you’d still be there, arguing over whether or not (a) the computer’s ever going to work and (b) if it doesn’t, what they’re going to give you in exchange for the thorough pain in the ass they’ve delivered thus far.

Hmmm, I think I’m still bitter about having had to take diagonal cutters to my new cell phone headset just to get the damn thing to work, and moreso that the guy at the booth had no concept of the differences between plugs and how stereo-headphone-plus-mic headset operated. You’d think someone surrounded by electronics all day would have some understanding of how the things work, but noooo.

Toronto’s messing with my brain. I can’t wait to get out of here. I bet my blood pressure’s gone up ten or twenty points just by moving here.

Frisco said...

I had a computer that flikered at me too,,,at least I thought it did. I soon found out it was my left eye, a rare case of flickoflasha,,,take two aspirin and watch your screen with one eye closed and now you can spend your money on beer,,,,

This Cat's Abroad said...

Flickoflasha? - sound better than epılepsy.

Di said...

I have missed you,sorry to have been such a rotten reader of late ... my life turned into a poorly managed roller coaster ride, although my bum hasn't taken the hammering yours has in that other post.

This made me giggle ... I'm sorry but you are superb at these stories. I hope there's a book one day, I would buy it and mail it to friends too.

How's Turkey going (other than the stuff noted here)? Need to stay on-task and reading, need to organise my life so I can.

Take care!

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