Laptops don't lie: Filthy tales of tech repair

You'll need a strong stomach to brave this techie's stories of the extreme abuse inflicted on laptops by oblivious users

We all have stories to tell about users and their technology-related excuses, accidents, and misunderstandings. You'd think that at some point you've heard and seen it all. Still, users find ways to surprise, startle, and even amuse me.

Here are some recent favorites from my job working in a small laptop repair center.

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Food and technology don't mix

Many computers are brought in after drink- or food-related accidents. At some point, it seems users would learn to keep the two apart. But as these stories show, that isn't the case.

Occasionally, we get tickets with explanations that are just absurd, and you can't help but imagine what must have happened before the computer's demise. For example: "A pumpkin fell on the user's laptop." And: "User's laptop was sitting in a puddle in their car. There is also tomato soup in the Ethernet port and VGA port."

How about another? "User accidentally tipped a chocolate fondue fountain over onto her laptop." Spoiler alert: That'll never end well.

peanut butter PC

One day, a laptop came in with notes stating that the fan wasn't spinning -- no more, no less. I removed the fan and, to my surprise, found it had been smeared and stuffed with peanut butter (pictured above). There was no explanation as to why or how it got that way or whether it was part of an ill-fated experiment with the chocolate-smeared laptop -- but we're probably better off in our blissful ignorance.

Caution: Gloves and mask required

It should go without saying that a computer needs to stay far away from a bathroom or any other area where a user might deal with personal grooming or sensitive hygiene. But nooo. Here are some of the disgusting mishaps we deal with.

For one laptop, the ticket from the help desk stated that the fan was noisy. The fan was, in fact, noisy, and it sounded like something stuck in it rather than a bearing starting to fail. Still, I wasn't prepared for what I found: When I took the laptop apart and removed the fan, about a half-dozen toenail clippings fell out. Not so strangely enough, the fan ran quietly after they were removed.

Much to our dismay, bodily fluids also merit a mention. For instance, we've seen more laptops than I care to remember that came in with tickets that read, "User vomited on laptop and would like it repaired." Thankfully, that falls outside of every warranty we offer, and we send those machines right back with a nice, professionally worded version of "That is not happening ... ever."

Every year we can also expect to get at least six laptops that have doused with urine, either by "a puppy" or by "a drunk roommate." We do not touch those machines: Users are typically charged full replacement cost in those cases.

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