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Friend Buys Computer Just Like That

KANSAS CITY, MO—Account executive Jeremy Trask, 33, entered a local Best Buy Sunday, shopped for approximately 20 minutes, and bought a brand-new laptop computer right off the shelf, "like it was a bag of pretzels," Trask's friend Paul Cheng said Monday.

Trask and the computer Cheng (inset) witnessed him just up and buy.

"I didn't even know Jeremy was in the market for a computer," Cheng said, still reeling from Sunday's events. "We were on the west side of town, and he asked if I wanted to stop in at the Best Buy. I thought maybe we'd buy some CDs or look at the plasma-screen televisions, but, next thing I know, he's dropping $1,200 on a laptop."

The Toshiba Satellite Notebook laptop computer came equipped with an Intel Celeron Processor, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive, and a 15-inch active-matrix display. The 40GB hard drive came pre-installed with the Windows XP Home Edition operating system, Microsoft Works, and Quicken—none of which seemed to interest Trask in the slightest.

"Jeremy just looked at it, typed some 'quick brown fox' crap on the keyboard, said the computer was nice and light, and asked a sales associate if they had one in stock," Cheng said. "He barely looked at the desktop computers. He didn't ask how it compared to a Mac. He didn't even ask about the warranty or any upcoming sales. He just grabbed the box and headed up to the check-out area."

According to Cheng, Trask "just assumed he knew what he wanted."

"Before you buy a computer, you're supposed to get some magazines, ask the office IT guy what he recommends, and find out how your friends like their computers," Cheng said. "People spend days just identifying their needs, let alone selecting a computer that meets those needs. I mean, it's a computer! How do you know what you're getting if you just snap one up?"

Cheng said that, once he realized what was happening, he followed Trask to the counter and demanded to know if his friend had done any research on the Internet or visited the store on previous occasions.

"He hadn't," Cheng said. "He just waltzed in there and bought the damn thing. I asked him what he would be using it for, and he said 'work stuff and Internet stuff.' He said he wanted a computer with a DVD player, so he could take it with him when he stayed at his girlfriend's place. And—oh, this was the classic line! This killed me! He said he wanted one that had an 'MP3 maker.'"

"I am not kidding," Cheng added. "Those were his exact words."

Cheng said he suspected that Trask simply looked for models that contained a DVD player, then chose one with a big screen.

"Can you believe that?" Cheng asked. "I told him that if he'd spend a couple days searching online, he could find that same computer for $50 or even $100 less, but he was like, 'I just want to get it and be done with it.'"

Although he made repeated attempts inside Best Buy, during the walk to the car, and during the ride home, Cheng was unable to make Trask see the importance of his purchase.

"I told him, 'Hey, man, you just bought a damn computer,'" Cheng said. "He just looked at me like, 'Yeah, I know.' I love the guy, but, I have to say, he didn't really seem to understand what it was that he'd done."

Cheng was further vexed to learn that, 24 hours after the laptop was purchased, Trask had yet to take it out of its box.

"I called Jeremy to see how the computer was working out, and he said he hadn't had the energy to deal with it yet," Cheng said. "I said, 'Aha! Having second thoughts, are you?' He said he was fine with it, but he just hadn't gotten around to unpacking it. I mean, Jesus."

"So I asked him if he wanted me to come over and help him get his modem hooked up," Cheng said. "He said he didn't need it. He said he got a flyer in the mail today and he signed up for a year of 'DSL or cable Internet or something.' God!"

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