As we pull out of Fort Wayne, I’m considering all the ways I might get a new computer while traveling the Lincoln Highway. I talk to Mike Cuccaro at WQED’s Web office and he commiserates. I talk to our main computer guy on our editing team, Mr Matt Conrad, and he says, “Stop at an Apple store and get a new one. Get a MacBook Pro with the 17″ screen!”
Easier said than done, I say. We’re on a mostly rural highway, and I already checked, There’s no Apple store in Fort Wayne. Maybe I can call and have one shipped to me. Apple can probably do that really quickly. I call 1-800-MY APPLE and talk to Raoul for a while. If you want the machine customized, it will take 7 to 10 business days. If you just want one standard issue laptop in a box, it will take 1 to 3 business days to ship it. Huh? No immediate and overnight shipping? How medieval. I thank Raoul and think I may peck a lot of messages on my iPhone this trip.
Then I check the map, see that we swing through the outer southern and western suburbs of Chicago, and we pass relatively close to an Apple store at Orland Square Mall in Orland Park, Illinois. Bob says, Let’s go.
Somewhere in mid-Indiana, we crossed into Central Time Zone, so we’re feeling flush with time. Ha!
We go some 20 miles out of our way north up Route 45, but they’re really helpful at the store. Angela is the concierge and she’s waiting for us because I called ahead to make sure they had some MacBook Pros. She’s got me scheduled for a personal shopping visit, and I ask if someone can look at my old laptop too. I’m there to see if the old laptop is really dead, and maybe get a new computer. I’m not loving the idea of a speedy, unexpected big ticket purchase while on the road, but I want a computer that works.
A strong looking guy named James shows me the possibilities to purchase, and then a soft-spoken “genius” named Tony at the Genius Bar (that’s what Apple stores call their technical help section) starts running some tests on my old white plastic iBook. He starts with some bad news: “Even if we can find out what’s wrong here, and it looks like your hard-drive has died, we won’t have any parts for this computer because it’s so old.” Ouch. He tells me I bought it February 12, 2002. Six years and some months ago. In computer years, that’s about 90 or so, no? It’s served me well. My trusty old computer starts screaming like a banshee there on the Genius Bar. “Don’t worry,” says Tony to all the people who turn to see what the painful cries are all about. “It’s just a hard drive. You never want to hear your hard drive like that.”
I go ahead and buy the new computer: a MacBook Pro with a 17″ screen. James helps me set it up and then he sets me on my way.
Meanwhile Glenn is trying to document some of this whole shopping-while-traveling adventure, and the Mall’s security kicks him out for having a camera in the mall.
Watch his first videoblog.
Back in the van, we don’t get far before we stop for lunch at what looks like a local chain: Al’s #1 Italian Beef. We learned to love Italian beefs several years ago while making the PBS program called SANDWICHES THAT YOU WILL LIKE. We were at Mr Beef in Chicago then. Italian beefs are a Chicago staple. Al’s isn’t quite as good as Mr Beef’s, but these upscale suburban versions of the sandwich are pretty darn good. The giardineira has some zing, the beef is sliced really thin, and the whole sandwich is as wet and messy and tasty as I remember. As food writer Pat Bruno taught us, you have to lean forward a you bite into the sandwich. Ahh.
A new laptop. A good sandwich. Back on the Lincoln Highway heading west. Life is good.