Sunday, February 20, 2011

the trouble you go to to recharge a laptop (Oct 1, 2006)

Current mood: aggravated

A couple of days ago I renewed my PA driver's license at one of the state photo ID sites. As usual, I took a bus to get to and from. From my point of view, I get a sardonic sort of snicker out of riding a bus to the driver's license center. It's also the fourth consecutive time I've done so -- 1994, 1998, 2002 and now 2006.

Also as usual, I had my trusty laptop with me. The batteries in this probably eight-year-old beast are getting a bit tired, so I only get maybe a half hour of useful work done on it between Point A and Point B, then I have to plug it in before I leave on the next leg of my journey.

Upon entering the license place, I ask if there's a seat in the waiting area near a 120-volt plug. There is; it was right there in plain sight next to the first chair. The guy at the desk, however, says "You can't recharge your laptop here. Those plugs are just for our use."

Say WHAT? It's a simple outlet! What's the problem here? Am I going to burn the place down? Am I going to plug in my bomb and destroy us all? Am I going to use $1,000 worth of electricity? Am I really in the way of the vacuum cleaner they're going to plug in there in about seven hours?

Note #1: I was not in the way. Fully 23 of the 25 chairs along the wall were not in use at that hour.
Note #2: Even if I'd plugged in for the entire time I was in the place, at 10 watts for 20 minutes and 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, that would be less than one-half cent of electricity. I ran up their utility bill more by drying my hands after using the toilet.

As it turned out, I got my photo taken before I could even think about locating a second plug. At least their service is quick there. However, since it was going to take five or more minutes to produce the actual license, I did what any other right-minded citizen with a healthy disrespect for chickenshit rules would do -- I found the next plug on the same wall, just far enough away that Mr. Rule Creator had a harder time seeing what I was doing, what with the big sweater and all the papers I was carrying. It was a cinch getting the thing plugged in, even w/o taking it out of the case.

So even though I only got maybe six minutes of plug-in time, I was able to get enough of a recharge that I could finish what I was doing on the bus ride home.

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