I think I'm on suicide watch at Helmsley's Park Lane Hotel.
Somewhere around Madison and 28th St., I contemplated this while absorbing the sight of the NesQuik rabbit, whose gentle invitation to "come to your happy place" seemed to exist just for me.
Everything that happened leading up to Park Lane death watch:
I woke up early today, had breakfast and plugged in my computer. One cannot eat if one does not work; and one cannot work if one does not Twitter.
That's when -- heavens above! -- my trackpad and its clicky button thing stopped working. There was a quiet moment of panic. Then I swallowed what remained of my Belgian waffle, packed my things and hauled ass to the Apple Store.
Some backstory: After attending the OneClub student exhibition last night (to be covered in one of my next posts), I returned to my hotel via subway and noticed with vague interest that I'm right across the street from the Apple Store.
"Neat," I said mildly, even though -- having spent about a quarter of my soul's value on a Macbook Pro last year -- I never planned to walk into an Apple Store again.
"Hmm," said the guy on the other end of the Genius Bar, who blew a little air between the buttons and examined the computer with friendly apathy.* "I'm not really sure what's wrong with it. You're gonna have to turn it in for repairs."
"TURN IT IN!" I exclaimed (ALL CAPS!). "I CAN'T TURN IT IN. I'M ON A DEADLINE!"
He cocked an eyebrow at me. We tried plugging in a mouse; no dice. If I get Pro Care, he said, maybe I can get my computer back in 24 hours.
We stood there while I contemplated the end of my career. I thought of all the news slipping by me, all that typing I'm not doing, and felt myself get all clammy.
"So..." I said. "What if I turn this in and get, like ... a Macbook Air?" For the time being it seemed to be the only solution, plus I kind of wanted to try one anyway.
The suggestion turned the Genius into an veritable faucet of Macbook Air laud. "I love mine!" he gushed. "I bring it everywhere."
"Do you pack it in an envelope?" I quipped, to which he immediately shouted, "GENIUS! THAT. AD. WAS. GENIUS.
"Every time an envelope is placed anywhere near a computer, there goes more brand recognition for Apple," he bragged. "And you know what else? Now OTHER companies are trying to stuff computers into envelopes. They're all saying, 'Mine fits in an envelope too!' but what they're really saying is, 'I can be just as good as Apple!'
"Apple IS THE STANDARD!" he bellowed.
I thought it might be best to grab a computer and GTFO. So I did. And I tried to be casual about it, but the thought of how much time I was losing (10 minutes until the newsletter deadline!) made me all panicky again. And I hated how, so soon after getting my Macbook Pro, I was once again dropping another two grand on some Apple "necessity."
It was kind of an emotional catastrophe.
On the way home, some other lame stuff happened involving my Verizon wireless card, which I don't really want to get into but which felt really last-straw-on-the-camel's-backish.
I got to the hallway of my hotel when my electronic key card stopped working and then something weird happened: big, deer-sized clown tears started rolling down my cheeks. I felt like a leukemia poster child who'd lost her puppy.
That's when the maid came.
"Oh my," she said. "Oh my."
She dashed over, grabbed my head and buried it in her big maternal bosom, which smelled like carnations and fresh linen.
"Let it out, sweetheart, let it out," she said in thickly accented English. Other guests inched by us, looking awkward.
"He hurt you, didn't he," she crooned, lifting my face toward hers. "You've been hurt."
"Uh-huh," I whimpered, because the actual story seemed too complicated. (In retrospect, senior copywriter Edward Herda observed that I had, in fact, been hurt by a man.)
"You don't cry anymore. You go in and lay down and don't cry," the maid said.
Oddly, the waterworks stopped the second I shut the door behind me. I powered up my swanky new laptop, got to work, and fielded a call from the Park Lane's head of security ("Just checking up!"), as well as a personal visit from the head of housekeeping, both of which gave me their names and numbers and asked me to call if I need "anything, just anything at all."
I later related this story to Diane Stefani of The Rosen Group, which does PR for the One Show Festival. She gave me something between a disturbed and amused look, then introduced me to the OneClub people and other news writers -- two girls that flew in from India and Germany, respectively.
We all shook hands and smiled, then I went back to my hotel where I found my room had been cleaned -- again. A small pyramid of chocolate mints sat resting by the bed.
What thoughtful people.
I'm tempted to ask for free wi-fi, but I don't want to seem pushy.
* I am actually being really rough on this guy. He spent a lot of time on my issue, trying different tactics and consulting with other Geniuses, and he truly couldn't work out why the trackpad had gotten all late-bloomer on me. I feel grateful, despite that contrasting totally-broke feeling.