Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dear Toshiba: About the Penis Detector…

Dear Toshiba,
Last week I wrote you a surly letter.  And my friend Dwija tweeted it to your PR department, and ToshibaEric more or less instantaneously posted a comment to the blog, offering to make sure my computer got fixed.
(Note to self: Must add “Small Miracles” tag to blog.  And to Dwija.)
To recap the problem, in case you have forgotten, my computer thinks it’s overheating.  It lets me know via urgent and frequent error messages, which begin approximately the moment I boot up, and continue with increasing frequency until I either turn the computer off in disgust or the fan kicks on, which seems to be a.) erratic, b.) later than the computer thinks is technically necessary, and c.) outside of my control.
Now.  True to ToshibaEric’s word, the following morning, a representative from Toshiba’s repair department right here in Irvine-by-God-California called me and offered to fix the computer.  (I would tell you his name, but he has sworn me to secrecy, lest he be inundated with requests from other bloggers to fix their computers, too.  Let’s just say that it was something simple, like Bob, and—unlike when I call your helpline—I actually believe that is his real name.)
I chuckled to myself, as I had just booted the computer for the morning, and was waiting to tell Bob how many times the error message popped up.  I fantasized about interrupting Bob the way the computer interrupts me—by randomly shouting, “Warning! Please turn off immediately and return for service!” at him.  But I couldn’t, because it never happened.
Now I was on the phone with Bob for maybe 15 minutes.  Which means that I should have been able to shout WARNING! at him between, say, 3 and 15 times.
But it didn’t happen.  Not even once.  Which leads me to the dismaying but inescapable conclusion that not only does the fan not work, but the Penis Detector is overcompensating.
See, I am a marginally technically and mechanically competent female.  And this is the latest example of a strange phenomenon which has dogged me throughout my life.  When my first husband and I divorced, every major appliance in the house quit working within a week of him moving out (on the plus side, I met Alfonso, the virile young repairmen with the jailhouse tats who, let's just say, could fix anything).  So did my car, which began making an alarming noise and shuddering violently whenever I tried to run the air conditioner (it was July in El Paso, Texas, so this was quite often).  I took the car to the dealership, and left it in the care of the mechanics, who called me a few hours later to tell me…that there was nothing wrong with my car.  They could not replicate the problem, ma’am. 
I was shocked and irritated then, but now I’ve just come to accept the reality of the Penis Detector.  At work, my key does not open the front door.  It is supposed to, but it doesn’t, which means I have to use the side or back door.  So I mentioned this to the maintenance guy, who summarily…opened the door with my key.  And then he told me I just had to “sweep” the key around rather than “twist” it, and handed it to me, and I tried it, using the same motion I have used to unlock doors my entire life, and while the maintenance guy was standing there, it worked just fine.  The minute he left, haha! Screw you, says the key.  Go in the side door.
My ipod wouldn’t receive email at work.  A friend of mine from the tech department came upstairs to check the settings.  The second he walked in the door of my office, BIING! You have mail!
I could give you a dozen more examples—cars, appliances, lawn mowers, sewing machines, gadgets, computers, plumbing, wiring—I am used to it.  They get all up in my business until the minute someone with a Y chromosome walks in, and then they turn all obsequious and make me look like an idiot.  Don't get me wrong--I don't want to believe in a phenomena that appears to punish me along traditional gender competency lines.  But while I may be a feminist, the appliances et al. are not.  Sometimes, the Penis Detector even shows up in natural phenomena (When will rats invade the garage and nest in my engine compartment? Or ants come pouring out of the outlet in my daughter’s room?  Or the neighbor’s dog discover a way not under but through our fence?  When my husband is traveling, that’s when.)  It is a law of the universe, and I have accepted it. 
But… my own laptop?  This feels like betrayal.  So I am packing up the laptop and mailing it off to Bob, per his instructions.  Please take good care of it, fix the fan, and remove the penis detector.
Erica Myers-Russo


  1. "By the power of social media, I command thee to fix my problem!"

    Seriously, it's twitter. And facebook. Now you'll never call a customer service number again EVER.

    I can't wait 'til it comes back all fancy and non yelly....