UBC Day 10: Keyboard Chronicles

We’re proud of the oddest things, aren’t we?

In 2012, I had a laptop to die for.

No, not the laptop that little kids crawl onto for story time.

I had a 17″ MacBook Pro laptop. The titanium one. It was a work horse and a work of art. I bought it in late 2007, and I worked on it every single day, for about ten hours a day (did I mention I’m a Type A workaholic?).

I worked it so hard that, by the time 2012 had rolled around, one of my friends, Jay Ashworth, who is as high up on the Computer Geek ladder as you can get without a nosebleed, asked if he could take a photo of my keyboard.

I was startled and asked him why.

“Why?” he repeated. “Look at the damn thing!

I looked. I looked for a while.

“Oh,” I said as reality finally settled in. “Yeah, ‘Oh,'” replied Jay.

Here’s how it looked:


Yes, I had worn many of the letters off my computer keys. If you look closely, you’ll see the number “9” key is actually missing. It flew off one day when I was enthusiastically keying in a bunch of addresses. I never did figure out where it landed.

Such is the life of a working writer.

Not long after, I discovered that even a MacBook Pro will lose its mind, and I found myself unable to get the box to boot up. Ah, but it’s a Mac. A quick trip to the Genius Bar would make it all better.

Uh-uh. This was one seriously ill hard drive, and it had opted for the computer version of the Hemlock Society. The Mac Genius who told me all was lost said they might be able to save something. I should leave it with him and call back in a week.

I didn’t like the idea, but what choice did I have? I touched my well-worn keyboard, testament to the bond I had with my laptop, and left.

A week later, the news wasn’t any better. A second Mac Genius told me something different was wrong with it, and I got a lump in my belly that SCREAMED “take it home!”

I reclaimed my laptop and took it to a Mac-authorized clinic closer to home. They said they might be able to get my data back. No promises. (By now, I guess, you’ve realized that I had not followed my own advice–I didn’t back up my hard drive with the oh-so-easy to activate Time Machine; yes, I’m an idiot.)

They were right not to promise. It was fried. They helped me grieve, noting the well-worn keyboard that spoke of happy, heavy usage.

They couldn’t replace the hard drive for the price I could get at the Apple Store, so back I went to schedule the transplant.

When I went back a week later, they still hadn’t replaced the hard drive. They told me it was really the logic board and a faulty port. They opened up the laptop to show me the diagnostics and … it wasn’t my machine!

“This isn’t mine,” I said. “Mine has half the letters rubbed off.”

“Oh,” said the Genius. “We replaced those for you.”

I stood there for a good ten seconds. The Genius (and I use the term very loosely) looked at me looking at my it-could-belong-to-anyone keyboard.

When I looked up, I was ready to cry. “You couldn’t fix the one thing it needed, but you ‘fixed’ something that was my point of pride? I want my old keys back. I don’t want … these!”

Didn’t matter. My keys had gone the way of my hard drive, never to return.

Ah, but at least I have …




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About Billie Noakes

The writer you want for crisp, clean copy.
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