The relationship between notebook and user is a particularly odd one; we frequently count on this inanimate object for communication (e-mail, IM), information (news sites, weather), and entertainment (streaming videos, listening to music) to such a high degree that, should something happen to our beloved machines, it’s almost like seeing a loved one diagnosed with a fatal illness. When my MacBook refused to boot this past Friday, I ran the emotional gamut. At first I was in a total state of denial (“This isn’t really happening, I’ll just power down and all will be right with the world”); next came fear (“No way is this really happening”); finally, I accepted the hand the cruel fates gave me (“Time to call tech support”). Fortunately, calling Apple tech support was one of the smoothest and most pleasant interactions that I’ve ever had with a support hotline. I was connected with a guy whom we shall call Joe, a pleasant-sounding southern chap. Joe asked about my MacBook’s symptoms and gave me a few suggestions aimed at alleviating the problem. First he had me pop out the battery, reinsert it, and then power on again. No dice: I still couldn’t boot into the system. Next he instructed me to reinstall Mac OS X Leopard—again, no dice. Finally, he suggested that I visit the Genius Bar at the nearest Apple Store for assistance. I have to be honest; I was more than a little saddened. I envisioned waiting in line for hours only to encounter an über-hardcore Apple repairman who would berate me over my gross mishandling of my baby; he has no idea how deep my love goes! Fortunately, this was all a product of my own psychosis. Joe asked for my area code and quickly booked an appointment for 2:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon at the Apple Store located in Manhattan’s SoHo area. Having an exact meeting time eased some of my anxiety, but deep down I still believed that I would have to wait an eternity for assistance. So the prodigal son returned home to the location where he initially purchased his MacBook. I strolled up the steps to the Genius Bar and parked myself on a bench in front of it. Within five minutes a Genius Bar employee approached and asked if I had scheduled an appointment. I nodded and gave him my name and the problem with my MacBook. He pointed up to a large screen that displayed the names of customers who were in “in queue” so to speak and I was number six. About 10 minutes later a Genius Bar tech guy belted out my name, and I eased myself onto a stool at the bar. The kindly Genius Bar employee asked me the problem, and after giving my MacBook a quick once-over, diagnosed it as having a bad hard drive. He asked if I frequently backed up my important data using Time Machine; I nodded. He congratulated me on my smart move, and made me feel special. He struck a few keys on his Mac and saw that I was still under warranty; it would cost me nothing to get a new HDD, and they even promised to give me a new shell, as I had a small crack just below the keyboard. All I had to do was fill out a form that stated that I understood I was going to lose all of my information when the Genius Bar tech team swapped hard drives. I hancocked it and my MacBook was taken away for repair. All in all, dealing with the Genius Bar was a simple, and extremely efficient process . . . so far. I’m set to pick up the notebook this afternoon, so I’ll report back on details of the actual repair job. I turn this over to you: Have you had any truly stellar tech support stories that you’d like to share?