1. My Credit Card’s Faulty Magnetic Strip
For at least the last twelve months, my credit card has been getting refused at gas stations, grocery stories, drug stores (including every CVS, for some reason), and anywhere else that requires you to swipe yourself through. Sometimes a friendly cashier would go through the rigamarole of swiping the card through again with a plastic bag wrapped around it, which somehow allows it to miraculously work (I tried to do this once myself, and made a total hash of the procedure). I kept meaning to call in and get my card replaced, but day after day, month after month, I put it off. The result: literally hundreds of minutes of my life lost to fumbling for a different card or swiping again or messing around with a plastic bag.
Then my savior appeared! At the CVS here in Charles Village, a cashier gave me a contemptuous look and then pulled out a few inches of scotch tape and stuck it onto the magnetic strip. Shouldering the load of her disgust, I swiped the card again! And it worked!
Since then, I’ve had zero problems with the card. This much-put-upon woman was, admittedly, not very friendly. But her grumpiness was a creative grumpiness. Out of a desire to never again deal with my stupid card problems, she utilized a simple piece of folk wisdom (or, I dunno, I’m just assuming this is folk wisdom…maybe it’s her own invention?) to solve my problem forever!
2. The little percentage completed indicator at the bottom left corner of my Kindle
For years, I haven’t been able to complete a page on my Kindle without a quick glance at the progress indicator to see whether this page turn made the percentage completed number go up. Although a small distraction, I found that it repeatedly broke my absorption in the given text. Oftentimes, I’d waste some seconds in calculating how many percentages I was reading per hour and how many percentages I’d get through by the end of the day and how many page turns it’d take before the percentage went up. It was all just a thorough-going waste of time.
But it wasn’t until I began to read Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit that the percentage sign became truly an impediment to progress. Little Dorrit is really fucking long (more than 250,000 words), and there was just no way I was going to get through the thing unless I could forget how long it was. And there was no way to forget how long it was when I could read for half an hour and see that little percent only go up by three or four points.
Something had to be done!
After remembering the credit card miracle, I realized that my answer was close at hand. I went back to that same CVS and bought some scotch tape. Then I came home and taped a tiny black chit of paper over the place where the percent sign goes.
Voila! Ever since then, I’ve been blowing through the book (I’m almost halfway done).
3. The blinky LED on my phone charger
Okay, this just poor design. People charge shit at night while they sleep. And they charge shit in their bedrooms. And the last thing you want in your bedroom is a surprisingly bright LED light. And yet, every damn thing in the world has an LED light on it. With a charger, this is particularly silly, because you can just see, by looking at the phone, whether the charger is working.
Anyways, tape to the rescue!!!
4. The battery cover on my laptop
My HP Laptop is magnificent. But it just has one problem. The battery cover comes loose whenever I slide it backwards. Since my hands rest on the front of the laptop when I type and exert a constant (though slight) forward pressure on it, the damn battery cover is always slipping out.
Well, no longer!
Okay, I kind of added in that last one a bit gratuitously, since by that time I was wandering my apartment with tape in hand and looking for things to tape. But the other three are pretty legit, I think.