Thank you iFixit! You guys are rocking it!
Trying to save project work when I saw that lame rainbow wheel spin telling me the only option is to chill out. Things were freezing right and left and I couldn't even grab force quit. Seems like it happened a couple times before, like small tremors before the big one. Resorted to holding down the power button for a manual reboot only to be met by that grey question mark asking where's your HDD, bro?
Booted from the disc. No relief. Disc Utility can't find my HDD, coming up short on some Mac OS X Base System nonsense. Went in through a terminal window hitting every combination diskutil had. Noticed a bunch of mounted drives with barely any space, couldn't write, change permissions or really do anything about having a useless Mac OS X Base System and its phantom friends that won't mount/unmount or give me any permission control. No OS means no Admin so "sudo" wasn't even a command in this terrible shell running off my boot disk.
Next move was on point: evaluate hardware. Cracked open the Macbook Pro and removed HDD. Hit up a local Best Buy for the SATA to USB cable, saving the receipt and packaging. Plugged in the Hard Drive via USB and she starts up no problem running off the USB now.
Ok logic board works, the HDD works, only piece left in equation is Hard Drive Cable. Apparently had no choice. Couldn't find any reasonable iFixit competitors online, no surprise, this is not really a consumer product. Felt forced to order it at iFixit.com. At least I entered a valid $5 dollar-off coupon googled right before checkout.
Hard drive cable came fast. Cracked open the MacBook Pro again and replaced the cable. Hoping that it was going to work, over-confidently tightened all the screws on the machine's outside encasing before firing up. With a short prayer under my breath I fired it up and boom, to my great relief I got the loading circle animation we all are accustomed to before being hit with the Login Screen. Incredible. Everything works, this Hard Drive Cable seems to be crapping out on the MacBook Pro 13" Unibody Mid 2009/2010 these days, given all the other comments I read before placing the order.
The key test in this situation happens after you buy a SATA to USB cable. Don't order online, go brick and mortar this time for the 30-day return policy. I hit Best Buy, later returned the overpriced $30 cable for all my money back. Don't even wait, get out there now, save your receipt and packaging so you can properly test your HDD. Then return your SATA to USB cable after your iFixit cable comes. -Bent Cardan, New York City