Now electronic stores and stupid impulse purchases go hand in hand, and as all nerdy men of a certain age know, these can often result in mishap.
Indeed, one sometimes takes the plunge with an ill-advised purchase with the full knowledge that the lack of prior research is going to result in the ownership of a white elephant.
At such moments one enters another mental realm in which judgement and reason are suspended and a wild devil-may-care spirit infests the credit card.
I have a cupboard full of the fruits of such hasty transactions: incompatible instruments, mismatched machinery and extra equipment, much of it broken or damaged in the kind of orgiastic bouts of Luddite violence that often ensues when an impulse buy goes wrong and no amount of hammer work will make a square USB plug fit a round DIN socket.
Well, I’ve gone and done it again.
Yesterday I was loping around the Mac section of Hiroshima‘s main purveyor of electrical wonderment, gazing at the latest iMacs with a mixture of envy and anger.
See, I was an early adopter of the Intel-based iMac, getting one in late 2007 and finally escaping the horror of Windows.
As I wanted my new machine to last, I opted for upgrades to hopefully give it a life longer than the average 3 years of my previous computers. For this I paid around $2,300.
Today, of course, a mere 20 months later, the same machine would set you back only $1,300, and to add insult to injury, a far better version still retails for under $2,000. Such is the perennial fate of the early adopter.
So there I was, wondering if I shouldn’t buy a new one and try to flog the old to some unsuspecting cohort to offset the bill.
But try as I might to get the mad impulse buying snowball in motion, I could not get past the fact that given an impoverished future heaving into sight and that my current machine does all I require of it adequately, it just didn’t make much sense.
However, I consoled myself with the idea of an upgrade. Why not soup up the old warhorse with a dab of RAM?
Aha! Here was a way I could satisfy my desire to buy something nerdy I didn’t really need, but make it all seem plausible. After all, you can never have enough RAM, right, lads?
Now I had actually researched this a bit, and had the correct specs noted down in the old iPhone, and it wasn’t long before I had found the right gear.
PC2-5300 SO-DIMM SDRAM 667khz 200 pin, to be exact.
So, I bunged a couple o’ 2GB sticks down on the desk, wincing slightly at the $170 price tag, but then the helpful clerk suggested another brand which was only $140 – sweet!
I double checked all the numbers on the box, and noted to my satisfaction that it even had the word ‘Macintosh‘ emblazoned upon it.
However, I now realise that this moniker must have referred to a certain type of rainwear, since it certainly could not have pertained to a well-known Cupertino-based computer manufacturer.
For, having installed the new bits, as per instruction, and firing up the machine, all that could be heard was a sad wheeze, a depressed whir, and an unmistakable atmosphere of general non-functioning.
Since neither maniacal laughter nor banging the cranium against the plaster work helped rectify the situation, it was with great regret and a little wry amusement that I was forced to haul my sorry bottom back to the shop this afternoon, there to do battle in the linguistic arena and try to get some functioning replacements.
Those ex-patriots with an incomplete mastery of the local patois always dread such moments, and the following description of the exchange will illustrate why.
- I approach small female clerk who looks likely to be sympathetic to my woes.
- I begin to explain situation in pigeon Japanese.
- Small female clerk seeks to escape entanglement by looking for other clerks to intervene.
- Male clerk takes over.
- Conversation ensues in Japanese in which I state that the RAM doesn’t work, and that I want to exchange it for some that does work. The clerk‘s response can only be partially understood, and doesn’t seem to be offering any kind of resolution. I restate my case in what to my interlocutor must appear to be the language of a 3 year-old. He restates his case in full Japanese, making no concessions to my obvious inability with the tongue. I fail to grasp the point. This cycle repeats itself about four times.
- Clerk suddenly switches into fluent English. I feel like an idiot.
- Clerk orders the correct RAM, currently not in stock.
- It costs another $110 making a grand total of $250 for something I didn’t really need.
- I leave the shop, dressed in sack cloth, ash smeared on my visage, flagellating myself repeatedly with a large branch, for had I known the infernal bits were going cost that much, I’d never have bought them in the first place.
The funny thing is, just a few months before an acquaintance had done exactly the same thing with his iMac, and I had thought to myself then that I would never be caught out in such a way.
Will I learn from this costly experience? Will I buggery!