The Laptop Repair That Almost Became a Kidnapping

In my last post I wrote about an almost job I had from Craigslist where I could have gotten paid in five cars for designing a website to make a Russian man’s professions look more like real businesses.  I also used to tour the Computer “gigs” section and look for work after my regular job.  I stopped doing this in about 2006 when I got a better paying job with a more chaotic schedule.

Most of the jobs I took were filled with decent people who paid well but just wanted someone to come after regular business hours.  This worked for me since I had a regular job and so did they and it was always a pleasant exchange of services for cash.  The one I began to be wary about was Laptop repair.  In those days most computers were still desktops as laptops tended to still be on the expensive side and people who wanted them repaired were often clumsy people who broke the LCD screen and somehow thought they could find someone to fix it for $25.  They were easy to ignore.  One time I responded to one way down in Sunset Park in Brooklyn.  It was fairly late at night too but from the description I figured I would just have to re-solder the power supply that had likely been knocked loose when someone tripped over the cable.

When I got there it was at some Photography Supply store on the second floor.  I was supposed to meet a man named “Jim” and when I buzzed the place I asked for “Jim” and was buzzed up.

Upstairs there were three Orthodox Jewish men.  Sometimes people take familiar names to use with outsiders and it was clear I was an outsider in this place.  I asked them about the laptop and “Jim” showed it to me.  But…He put down a printed contract in front of me so I could sign it.  It was about two pages long in printed legal paper.  I found this to be very unusual so I read it all the way through, most of it was “blah Blah name of business hereafter referred to as the client blah blah”

Then, finally, “blah blah blah I hereby guarantee that if I am unable to repair this computer that I take full responsibility for causing its un-usability and agree to pay for all damages amounting to (handwritten) $2000.00”

So they wanted to pay me $100 if I fixed the computer but if I failed I had to pay $2000.00.

I said “no”.

Then “Jim” got very hostile.  Very, very hostile actually.  As I got up he and his friend shoved me back down in the chair and he slammed the pen down in front of me and said “Just sign the fucking paper and we will be done with this”.  I forced myself up again and backed away from the table with the laptop and the “legal” document.  “Jim” said again “Sign the fucking paper asshole.  No need to make this tough on you because you are not leaving until you sign the paper”  I let them back me toward the window and then I opened it.  “What are you gonna do pussy?  Jump?” and I told “Jim” that I was going to start yelling that there was a fire to the people below and that I had set it because I am “off my meds” and could they please send help right away before I hurt someone.

“Jim” and his bearded friends scowled and advanced and then paused.  I yelled “Help!” out the window and then suddenly “wait, wait no.  We are just kidding.  We are just teasing you.  Sorry.  didn’t know you would be such a pussy and take this seriously.” and they cut a swath for me and let me out the door.

They were smart enough to know that a little resistance could mean a lot of trouble for them so I let them go.  About two years later I remember reading that one of the photography stores in that area was shut down for bait and switch tactics and threatening customers who canceled their credit card payments, similar to what Vitaly Borker would get sent to prison for doing years later.

I gave up on laptop repairs after that.

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