Past Customers Have Thought …


“You bought a power brick for your computer recently! Won’t you please review it?” The Best Buy e-mail was simple, and its declarative statement true. But to review it? What could I possibly say?

“Please?” the e-mail begged. “Pleeeeeeeeeeease?” I didn’t even know my computer had Helvetica Extra-Whiny. So naturally I refused.

They sent me a follow-up e-mail. “You still haven’t reviewed the power brick you bought for the Apple MacBook Pro Limited Edition with Peppermint Stripes”, it said, making me wonder if I’ve missed something in not licking my computer. “Couldn’t you please let other potential customers know what to expect?”

Again, what I bought was the power brick. Its whole purpose in existence is to modulate 120 volts alternating current into 12 volts or something direct current. It either does this function correctly or it does not. I bought the power brick over a month ago, and if it hadn’t worked I’d have brought it back to the store while secretly hoping the customer service desk didn’t know what I was talking about. Some of my favorite moments in life involve customer service people who don’t know what I’m talking about, because something tickles me about conversations where at least one party is hopelessly confused. But it probably wouldn’t be confusing, since I’d have the power brick, and I’d have my receipt — I’ll save receipts until I’m sure something is working, possibly for as long as fourteen years if need be — and if, like, the wires of the new one had exploded as if some tiny electrical demon had clawed its way out, like happend with the old, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of questions involved. “Here, take another one,” I imagine the clerk would say. “Just don’t get tiny electrical demons all over our store!” Best Buy has enough problems without demons getting into the stock. I refused, but as I pointed out, at least I wasn’t getting demons all over them.

“But prospective customers need to know what they’re buying,” was the follow-up. “Won’t you please let your experience guide the ones who are on the fence about whether they need this particularly or should find something else that better suits their needs?”

I could not think of who these people might be. Perhaps someone who wasn’t committed yet to buying a Mac, but who wanted the power brick so he could say whether the whole thing seemed to fit into his lifestyle or his power outlets? Someone who’d lost his original power brick to misadventure but who was making do with expedients, such as by having the laptop powered by a small windmill, or keeping it closed and turned off for holding a small plant attractively off the table while working out whether it’s better to get the electricity back to it or whether it’s easier just to run off into the woods and never be seen by civilization again? But in that latter case how could they know what my review for Best Buy would be? The entire prospect seems to be irrevocably logically flawed.

“Pleeeease,” was the follow-up. “It’ll only take a minute of your time and it’ll be soooooo good for everyone else.” And so I finally gave in, and gave this review:

This is an Apple power brick suitable for plugging into a MacBook Pro bought in early 2011. It is an object with certain physical qualities which it has in quantities that appear, to a non-expert eye, to be present in the expected and usual amounts. It has mass, width, breadth, length, and even a duration in time. When plugged in correctly to a power supply and to my laptop it appears to satisfy both the laptop’s need for electricity and the electricity’s need for somewhere to go so as to avoid getting into trouble. I can say nothing regarding the taste of the power brick, as it has several times fallen onto hotel room floors, and I see no reason to inflict my tongue upon it. The unit I have replaces one which was apparently infested with tiny electrical demons; none have shown themselves on this unit.

“Thank you,” was the response. “That was all we really wanted.”

Three days later I sat upright in bed and remembered: I bought this from a Best Buy store in the real world, not online. How did they know I’d bought anything? How did they know I’d bought this?

“Heh-heh-heh”, was all the answer they gave.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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