Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Horror Story

So, this is what happened to me last weekend.

I poured a cup of coffee on my laptop. Like, right over the top of the keyboard. It's so cliche, but it was exactly like it was happening in slow-motion - I could see my clumsy arm gesticulating, the mug tipping, the wave of liquid like a tsunami over the keys. Then time caught up and I was sitting there gaping before a moment before Davis, sitting nearby, barked "gogetthepapertowel".

I can see you all cringing through my screen. I can see you compassionately stroking your own computers, whispering "I'd never do that to you, baby".

When I came back, my computer gasped and the screen went black. Davis immediately removed the battery and pulled out the RAM drives. We sponged up as much of the coffee as we could (Columbian medium roast with skim milk, no sugar) and tilted the computer up to let it drain. After half an hour, no more coffee was seeping out, but when we tried powering the computer up, all we heard were little pathetic whirring sounds.

Now what? we asked. It was 3:15 on a Sunday afternoon, so Davis got on the phone with the Apple store at the nearby mall and made an appointment for an hour later to get someone to look at my poor computer.

"It turned off by itself?" the Apple genius asked. "Oh. That's not good."

He did, however proclaim my hard drive undamaged, and plugged it into his own computer so I could transfer some documents onto a USB key I'd brought.

"I don't know," he said. "All I can tell you is to let it dry out for a week and try again, but I'm not optimistic. This model of laptop has been reduced by $200 though, if it doesn't work out."

"But how much liquid damage is there?" I asked. "Can you just open it up and tell me if you think it's salvageable, so I don't have to wait that long?"

"Sure," he said. "It'll be $147 to open the case."

Davis drove me and my broken laptop home. "I can't believe they just won't fix it," I complained. "What did I pay $250 for Apple Care for anyway? Only their mistakes are covered?"

"Yes," Davis said. "Apple Care doesn't cover consumer stupidity."

"So what's the plan then?"

"We'll open up the case," Davis decided, "and put the laptop in the dryer."

And that is what we did. On a shoe rack. On air cycle. For 8 hours.

Computer guts:

Creative use of jewelry mailing boxes:

Schematic of screws removed:

And the verdict?


I can't believe how lucky I was. Lucky that Davis is quick-acting in taking out the battery as soon as it happened and thought to put the computer in the dryer. Lucky that my logic board isn't fried, which would cost as much as a new computer to replace. Lucky that we both had the guts to pry open my computer, although it was worth the risk anyway.

I love you, MacBook. You were too young to go so soon. I am glad that you'll live to see another day to blog with me.


  1. Holy cow, how lucky that you saved it. I envision doing this very same thing one day, Guess I better keep my coffee cup in a different location :)

  2. I'm right there with you! I did the same thing several months ago, only I dumped my water bottle right over, splling liquid right into the vent thingies on my macbook. I turned the computer off, freaked out, called Apple, found out the same thing about my useless Apple Care plan. Luckily, my husband (mr computer science) knew to remove the battery immediately and turn the laptop upside down. We used silica packets to help remove moisture and sure enough, after waiting 4-5 days, it powered up and my sweet friend worked again :) I like to think of myself as not tied to material things, but my computer is a rare exception. Glad to hear yours survived too! Whew!

  3. And this is why I have a desktop ... because then when I spill something, it's only my keyboard that gets fried.

    Good on Dave for thinking so quickly, though! If I'd done something like that, I would have been too much in shock to remember the battery and the hard drive.

  4. What a close call ! Glad to hear that the damage was not fatal. Guess that's why I never eat or drink anything around mine as I am a real clutz !

    Found your blog through the etsy forums post about blogs. What a great way to discover new blogs and get new followers. I'm following you now and hope that maybe you'll take a peek at my blog too. :)

  5. OMGawsh that was too funny! I did the exact same thing to my laptop back in the fall, only it wasn't coffee it was orange juice. I guess my spill wasn't as bad though because mine didn't power off on it's own, I quickly shut down and then strategically placed it upside down so the liquid could drain out. I DID end up having to replace the keyboard though which was a drag.

    Such creative thinking putting it in the dryer! Luv your schematic plan ;)

  6. PS I mean your creative writing and pics were too funny, not the laptop crisis itself.


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