My computer crashed last week, providing a humbling lesson in how much I depend on this assemblage of circuits, metals and such. Frantic to get to work – and communicate online – I called my Sequim tech support guy. He couldn’t help with balky hardware but suggested calling a repair shop in Port Townsend. I also phoned other Mac users for advice, and possibly a temporary loaner until I got mine up and going again.
As soon as they opened, I got a return call from the shop. “What’s the problem?”
“I’m a writer with a couple of deadlines and I’m hoping you can give me super-quick service. My computer simply won’t start. It’s done this off and on since I’ve had it. And somehow it always seems to balk whenever I have several deadlines — and Mercury goes retrograde,” I laughed.
“We’re just slammed. All kinds of creative people, writers and filmmakers, have deadlines and computer problems since Mercury went retrograde Aug. 3. My husband’s an astrologer who keeps me up with these things,” she said with easy humor. They couldn’t get to it for days.
I loved discovering someone else who pays attention to Mercury’s astrological warnings. Named for the Greek gods’ wing-footed messenger, Mercury symbolizes communications. When its apparent movement in the sky changes, or astrologically speaking, goes retrograde, it’s time to be mindful of every sort of message. Its call for caution has proven applicable so often that Mercury retrograde is the only astrological anything I track regularly.
That planetary heads-up warned me that my problem wouldn’t be resolved simply. Which should have prepared me for my first call with tech support.
After over-the-phone fixes failed, the techie declared that my hard drive had crashed. Too bad my service contract had expired and I needed a new computer.
Not what I’d expected.
I unburdened on an Apple-savvy friend.
“Don’t take the word of the first guy you talked with. Call again, ask to speak to a supervisor, someone who can authorize giving you a replacement,” she urged. “After all, your service contract just expired in June, when your last techno–frazzle was still unresolved.
“Apple’s a responsible company and you deserve better treatment,” she said. “Besides, Washington’s ‘lemon law’ requires replacing something after the third attempt to fix something.”
Two tries later, I managed to reach someone who would pay for a repair at an authorized shop. But no replacement — because other fixes had been over the phone or at my home.
“Why does that matter?” I asked.
“Well, lots of the parts – the hard drive, the casing, the logic circuits – may be OK. We only want to replace what’s not working.”
“But we don’t have authorized shops on the peninsula. So wouldn’t it be good customer service to simply take mine back and replace it?”
“We don’t take anything back after 30 days.”
“Yet you sell refurbished computers. Where do those come from?”
He’d never wondered.
I asked, “Why doesn’t Apple take back all their products, and recycle the good parts? Electronics have so many exotic metals and complex components that are surely worth reclaiming.”
“Recycling efforts just move the problems to another country,” he said.
We both knew the stories of whole villages in India and Africa rendered toxic by unsupervised salvage operations.
“I’m not talking about recycling, but life-cycling — taking responsibility for a product’s complete life cycle from beginning to end. In Europe, many manufacturers design for a continuous life cycle. Your refrigerator breaks down, you simply return it to the company that made it.”
Adopting this approach could make Apple an industry leader in another way, I urged.
“I’m totally with you on that,” he said, promising to forward this new form of recycling.
Since then, I’ve been envisioning a world where every company takes full responsibility for everything it does.
Not burning forests, blasting mountaintops or drilling in fragile ecosystems.
Not poisoning our air and water.
Leaving no toxic garbage or desecrated landscapes.
Using clean renewable solar or wind energy from start to finish.
Caring for Mother Earth simply because it’s the right thing to do.
Diana Somerville writes about creating more sustainable communities and our personal connection with the environment. A Clallam County resident, she’s a member of the National Association of Science Writers, the Society of Environmental Journalists and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Reach her at www.DianaSomerville.com or e-mail email@example.com.
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