It was Friday afternoon, the “w” on my Thinkpad keyboard was in a state of obstreperous revolt (or should I say obswtrewpewrousw rewvolt?), IBM had not rushed me the “Easy-Serve” carton as promised (you get a carton, FedEx it to them, they fix and FedEx back), and I’d been meaning to splurge on an even newer, faster laptop, so . . .

I was all set to spring for an IBM Thinkpad 770, even though it’s almost twice the price, but (a) they don’t make it easy to buy, and (b) it inexplicably didn’t seem to come with a 56K modem like the competition (it still offered 28K).

A call to Dell revealed that El Niño in the Austin area had kept the company’s employees from getting to work that day (literally: the recording said they were closed).

So then I did what I almost always remember to do when all else fails — I called 800-243-8088, a phone number hardwired into my brain from way back in the mid-80s, when the 8088 chip was today’s Pentium II.

It was now 4:23 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Justin, who answered with minimal branching (with IBM you want to kill yourself by the time you get to a human), said he’d be happy to get a computer to my home 1500 miles away before noon the next day — Saturday. The one I picked required some extra memory to be installed and tested, but they could do that, too.

“How much time do I have before the cutoff?” I asked quickly, figuring it was a matter of minutes. “Until 9 p.m.,” Justin said, although he himself would be there working until 1 a.m.

So he leisurely faxed me the specs, I called back, placed the order, and had my new laptop delivered — with its additional 32MB of RAM installed — at 11:15 a.m. the next morning.

Call for software or a printer cartridge — or a laptop — in the evening and there it is, right as rain, in the morning.


I’m sure PC Connection is not the only outfit that can do this. (They have their warehouse at an airport, which helps.) But in a world of “please listen carefully as our menu options have changed,” 800-243-8088 is a good number to remember.


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