Monday, August 20, 2007

Who needs a car?

About a month ago, my computer's motherboard died for the second time. Of course, the writing had been on the walls for several weeks, so I was able to backup everything. I was in the market for a new machine, and was seriously considering a Mac. With rumours circling about new Macs to be announced shortly, I decided to wait, and when they did come out, I was sold. I had two choices. I could purchase the computer in Brampton at a Best Buy or Future Shop, but they weren't receiving any in stock until the end of the month. My other option was to shop at one of the official Apple re-sellers downtown. With that option, I could have it a week after he announcement, but I would have a more difficult time getting it home.

So it really broke down to one question: Can you carry a computer home on the subway?

My first instinct was to bring a friend, but through clever marketing, Apple ships out the most expensive models first, forcing the "gotta have it now" crowd to up-sell. Not being able to accomodate a 24-inch iMac (or willing to pay for one), I decided to pre-order the 20-inch model.

One week ago tomorrow, at 3:30 PM, I got the call to pickup my order. Having to wait three weeks for rumours to be officially confirmed or denied was tough, and I simply couldn't wait overnight. But could I get from my home in Caledon to Queen & Broadview by the shop's 6PM close?

By taking sidestreets that I hadn't been on in half a decade, I managed to make it to Kipling Station by 4:45, and bolted into the subway. With a delay on the line that was cleared just as we approached the backup of trains, and a 504 car stuck behind a left turning driver at Broadview and Danfroth, I managed to arrive at the shop at 5:20.

Now, the 20-inch Apple iMac comes in a box 23 inches by 22 inches by 9 inches, and weighs around 20 pounds. It may be light in comparison to furniture, but it is an awkward box to carry. I recall that as I finished at the checkout, the clerk asked me if I needed help taking it out to the car. I thought "do you know who I am?", but in retrospect, I realize he was warning me. I managed to get the box about 20 feet down the sidewalk before I had to either switch hands or put it down to rest. I managed to get it to the streetcar stop and struggle up the stairs, but i then had to navigate the crowded car. Dragging it down to the subway was easier, but I still could only travel about 20 feet before I had to set it down. I can easily carry much more than 20 pounds, but the forces are much larger when those 20 pounds are supported only by a small handle.

As I headed back to the west end, I realized that I needed to make a pit stop, but would never feel comfortable leaving a several-thousand-dollar object out in the open without a firm grip on it. There must be something psychological, but most men are effectively defenseless when they are busy in the restroom. After making some phone calls, I couldn't find anyone downtown who would be able to accommodate me, so I decided to hold it and fend off the stares of people who knew what I had bough, despite it being in a plain brown box.

I arrived at Kipling without any delays, and carried it upstairs - in 20-foot intervals.

That day, I set out to discover if one could use the subway to carry cargo. The fact that I am updating this blog on an iMac is proof of concept, but far from proof of practicality. The TTC simply wasn't designed to transport people with cargo, but for those who are patient and are dedicated to the urban experience, it can be done.

For those looking for a mac and wanting to shop in an environment that isn't as claustrophobia inducing as the Apple Store, I bought the computer at Carbon Computing, 772 Queen Street East.

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At 9/11/2007 1:36 p.m. , Blogger Unknown said...

Like most things, the TTC was designed with Windows in mind. :D


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