My epic shell quest (part 1 of — dear lord, I hope this is the only part!)

September 16, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 17, 2015

I’m back online!

That is, I’ve got a working computer. I was online without one, thanks to my iPhone and my friends’ computer, which I borrowed over the weekend. But the refurbished MacBook Pro with retina display that I ordered on Saturday arrived Tuesday morning, meaning that I can once again type on my own machine.

Things are not yet back to normal, however. I have three important things to do with my new laptop:

Transfer backed-up data from my old laptop to the new machine. I expect to get this done Tuesday evening (after I complete this post but before it is, er, posted).

Purchase an AppleCare extended warranty for my new laptop. I meant to do this when I was making my purchase, but I got distracted. However, I think Apple permits this to be done within a few days of the purchase of a computer. I’ll probably complete this task Tuesday evening before I start restoring my data.

• Purchase a shell for my new laptop. My old MacBook Pro, a 13-incher that I purchased new in August 2009, was protected for the great bulk of its tenure by a hard, clear plastic shell. That shell saved me at least once from major damage. I need, need, need to get a case that will fit my new computer, clumsy fellow that I am.

This third task has proven to be surprisingly tricky. Apple offered to sell me a shell when I placed my order, but I figured that I could get one more cheaply elsewhere.

And then I tried to get one elsewhere. Looking for laptop cases on the web is a bit tricky because it’s hard to phrase a search query without getting results that mainly pertain to the laptop computers, rather than laptop computer cases. Another complication is that some web articles use cases interchangeably with bags. (Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me on Tuesday afternoon to search for “hard shells” rather than “cases.”)

I ended up diving extensively into four tech sites that I trust — MacworldCNET, Wired and Gizmodo. Alas, none of them seemed to have recent reviews of shells.

OK, I thought to myself*. I’ll just go to a store and buy one. No problem, right?


Around 3 p.m. Tuesday, I walked to the local mall to run a few errands. First, I went to the watch stand (kiosk? mini-store?) to get the battery of my wristwatch replaced. It took a little longer than anticipated, apparently because a plastic gasket was misbehaving. (This was likely a result of the watch baking and freezing in my car for, well, a number of months.)

Second, I crossed the street and went to the bank to deposit $81.50 worth of loose coins that I’d collected over the past several months. (Fewer months, I’d hazard to guess, than the watch had been sitting neglected in my car.) That took about as long as anticipated.

Then I walked back into the mall and wandered around looking for a computer store that used to be there but no longer exists. I ended up walking into the mall’s Radio Shack and peering around; when I asked the clerk if they carried laptop cases, she said they didn’t.

While walking home, I decided that I’d drive to the Staples on North Duke Street and get a shell there. I filled my water bottle in the kitchen, packed my computer in my shoulder bag, and hopped into my car.

To no avail. This Staples location, it turns out, doesn’t carry laptop cases.


I decided to swing by South Square, a shopping center near the Durham-Orange County line that’s southwest of downtown Durham. (Quick civics lesson: Durham is both a city and a county; the city is the county seat of Durham but is politically independent — despite being part — of the county.) Surely Target would have laptop cases, I thought…

I ended up stopping back at the house rather than driving directly to South Square. That was because I had a polo shirt in the house that I wanted to donate at the Durham Rescue Mission thrift shop that’s located more or less across the street from the Target.

I got that shirt and threw it in the front seat with the baseball hat and T-shirt that were already in the car waiting to be donated. Then I drove to the thrift store and dropped off the stuff.

There’s a small electronic gizmo — a tape-deck adaptor — that I want to get, so after donating the clothing, I walked into the store. I combed through the place for about a quarter of an hour, but they didn’t have any adaptors that I could see. Just before leaving, I spotted some shelves of DVDs and decided to pick up two of those.

Then I got back in my car and resumed my epic laptop shell quest!

There’s an Office Depot in the South Square shopping center; after a short internal debate, I decided to make my way there before going to the Target. Alas, this location didn’t carry laptop shells either; a worker suggested I go to the Apple Store.

I was oh-for-two, but I pressed on in my journey. I drove across the parking lot, which is probably big enough to contain two or three football fields (if not more!) and made my into the Target.

Where I found… nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Diddly-squat.

Oh for three!

Surrendering, at least for the moment, I drove to a nearby provider of food and drink and sipped on some Tamayokucha tea (delicious!) until it was time to make my way to my adult literacy tutoring session.

Am I defeated? Only for the moment, dear readers. On Wednesday, I intend to make my way to — yes — an Apple Store, where I shall buy whatever shell I can get my clammy little hands on.

Victory is assured, my friends. Victory in my epic laptop shell quest of 2015 is assured.


Standard disclaimer: Since I wasn’t taking notes or making recordings at the time of these events, all dialogue and thought bubbles are guaranteed to be only kind of, sort of accurate. Fortunately for you, the valued reader, this free blog comes with a money-back guarantee! 

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