Call me crazy, but I don't want these guys to have access to every single piece of personal information I have.
Since last June my 2009 MacBook Pro has been suffering from something that I’ve taken to calling ‘Computer AIDS.’ Periodically, without warning, all of my apps crash, I lose Internet access, and the computer becomes unable to save any new information to the hard drive until I restart. I’ve gone to the Apple Store 20 or more times over the past nine months and I’m on a first name basis with Apple’s phone tech support people, but after trying pretty much every possible solution we’ve still got no idea what’s wrong with my computer or how to fix it. At this point I’m about ready to go all Dallas Buyers’ Club and just start importing black market Mexican RAM to see if that’ll change anything.
In August my solution to the problem was to buy a brand new solid state drive, because Apple’s hard drives have a tendency to die on me every two years and I figured that was what was happening here. But the issues have persisted on the new hard drive too - even after reinstalling my entire operating system - and last month my contacts at Apple tech support finally told me to just take my MacBook back to the Apple store so they could determine whether the problem was being caused by my hard drive or something in my data.
I’m always hesitant to hand my computer off for some ‘expert’ to handle. My Dad is something of a technical wizard, and with his help I’ve been carefully backing up and transferring all of my data from one computer to the next for the past 15 or so years. This means that anybody with access to my computer can potentially read every single thing I've ever written, including the extensive library of video game fan fiction I wrote in middle school and various rambling, sappy screenplays I wrote to try and impress girls in high school. These aren’t the sorts of things that I want a complete stranger with wide, artificially created circular holes in his earlobes to be browsing through.
Every time I meet with an Apple Genius I find myself thinking of ways that he could use his technical expertise to unlock darkness buried deep within my hard drive that I lack the technical know-how to hide.
“…yeah, so when I hit ‘save’ Microsoft Word and FinalDraft crash, and then the whole thing pretty much locks up.”
“Hmm. Alright, let me try this. I’m going to hold down the Shift key and tap the Command key 7 times in a row, which will activate a special program that charts errors and CPU usage. Oh, and it’ll also bring up an archive of every saucy image you’ve ever looked at on your computer.”
“Yeah, it’s mostly for analytics - it just keeps a log of everything you search for in Incognito mode and then saves high quality screenshots of… Oh. Uh… Wow, there’s a lot here.”
“Could you please close the program?”
“It can’t be closed until it loads every image, so… Um… Jesus. In six years I’ve never seen this much.”
“Okay, uh… Can we… Can we just focus on my computer problem?”
“In all honesty, Mr. Capps, I think there are other problems that you should focus on.”
The thing is, as a human being I’m pretty much useless without a computer - while I’m not technically inclined enough to be able to diagnose and fix issues like this one, I’m still pretty much dependent on computers for 90% of the things that I do (more than that, if they ever find a way to digitize peanut butter). I weighed the options and decided that I was willing to risk somebody discovering some of the less flattering aspects of my hard drive, because the only alternative was to start using a typewriter and reading books for fun.
Besides, I reasoned as I walked through the mall on my way to my Genius Bar appointment. Even IF the Genius looking at your computer finds something incriminating, what do you care? It’s not the end of the world if one underpaid computer specialist reads the Jurassic Park sequel you wrote when you were in 6th grade or discovers some wayward piece of undeleted Internet search history, right?
I entered the expensive chaos of the Apple Store and checked in for my appointment with a blue-shirted employee with an iPad, who directed me to have a seat at the Genius Bar and wait. I hopped up onto a stool, set my laptop on the bar, and idly watched the pack of nerdy male Geniuses helping the other customers with their computer problems.
You’re too worried about this. I thought to myself, observing a bearded, heavyset Genius helping an old woman update her iPhone. These Geniuses probably have even more incriminating stuff on their computers than you do. If one of these guys finds anything sensitive he’s bound to be discreet about it - us nerds look out for each other, after all.
A door behind the bar opened and from it emerged the most attractive female Genius I’ve laid eyes on in seven years of Apple ownership. She walked over and fixed me with a dazzling smile.
“Hey Truman, I’m Donna - I hear you’re having some trouble with your hard drive?”
I remember after watching Her I had some rather wistful thoughts about having a beautiful woman help me organize my hard drive. Having experienced it firsthand, I’m not as crazy about the idea anymore.
All the same, slamming my laptop closed and sprinting out of the mall would’ve looked weird, so I went ahead and launched into the extensive explanation of what had been going wrong with my computer. Donna listened attentively, laughing at my jokes and being generally charming. I was feeling pretty suave by the time I’d signed all the paperwork to officially check my MacBook in - until Donna said,
“It sounds like there might be a corrupted piece of data on your hard drive. But don’t worry - I’m on repair duty tonight so I’ll personally go through it and see what I can find.”
I thanked her, we exchanged pleasantries, and then I watched helplessly as she picked up my ticking time bomb of potential embarrassment and carried it into the back room for analysis. Just my luck - the one time a beautiful woman starts talking to me at a bar, it’s because she wants to comb through 15 years of my unflattering creative output and smut.
Truman Capps has seen this episode before, and it ends with George breaking into the Apple Store to try and get the MacBook back, but then Kramer accidentally sets off the alarm and they get arrested.