The Apple company and I have a great relationship. Apple doesn't need my business, and I'd rather put beans up my nose than go into an Apple Store.
Despite my dislike of Apple Stores, I went to one the other day with my wife, because she needed a new battery for her two-year-old iPhone.
For most electronic gizmos, installing a new battery is as easy as walking into a store, buying a battery, and putting it into the gizmo. Not so with an Apple phone.
The process became complicated as soon as my wife and I walked through the door of the Apple Store. Our expectation was that a company that is supposedly at the epitome of technology would use technology to make the experience pleasant and seamless. Silly us.
First, even at 1:30 on a weekday afternoon, the store was crowded—crowded with customers in their twenties. Don't they have jobs?
To use an expression that my working-class parents had used to describe people who bought stuff beyond their means, the twenty-somethings looked like they "didn't have a pot to piss in." Yet they were signing complicated purchase plans for $800 gadgets.
In abundance were blurry sleeve tattoos and scraggly beards, especially on the Apple employees. All the dudes and dudettes looked like hipsters, or hipster wannabes. My wife and I looked out of place—way out of place. We looked like fuddy-duddies, probably because we are fuddy-duddies. We're so old-fashioned that we actually read books made of paper, enjoy long walks together without looking at our phones, and think that human skin is the worst possible canvas for works of "art," especially as skin begins to sag and wrinkle. Yes, we're an embarrassment to the family.
Moreover, we're such oddballs compared to typical Apple customers that we have enough money to buy a warehouse full of pots, or, if we had the inclination, a warehouse full of pot. As my sophomoric musings attest, our money has little to do with intelligence or talent; rather, it's because we didn't buy $800 phones when we were in our twenties and were at our jobs at 1:30 on a weekday afternoon. In fact, we were at our jobs every weekday from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, plus many weekends. As a result, unlike today's twenty-somethings, we never had to live in mommy and daddy's basement or vote for the likes of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders so that we could confiscate other people's money.
As we walked into the store, a chirpy dudette greeted us and asked why we were there. Naturally, she was carrying a computer notebook, which was as useless as the notebooks now held by newscasters on the local news. The newscasters never use them during the newscast and apparently hold them as a prop to signal to twenty-somethings that they are hip, although twenty-somethings get their news from Google instead of TV. Heaven help us.
Ms. Greeter Dudette pointed to another employee and said we had to meet with the dude to make an appointment for a new battery. It was beyond us why an appointment was necessary or why she couldn't make the appointment with her notebook.
Mr. Appointment Dude was with another customer at one of the display tables that are scattered around Apples Stores. Of course, the company's objective is to tempt customers with the latest gadgets on the tables and keep them wandering around the store as long as possible. There is no waiting area with comfortable chairs. Maybe Apple doesn't want customers with infirmities, as they would tarnish the company's hip image.
As we stood awkwardly by Appointment Dude, he made no eye contact, didn't acknowledge our presence, and didn't say, I'll be with you shortly. Meanwhile, another customer came into the store clutching his Apple tablet like a security blanket. An effeminate wisp of a guy in his early twenties, he was greeted by Greeter Dudette and directed to speak with Appointment Dude.
Finally, Appointment Dude finished with his current customer and turned to Wisp of a Guy and said, "How can I help you?" I interrupted, "Excuse me, but we were here first." Appointment Dude responded, "No he was here first." Since Wisp of a Guy seemed on the verge of crying, I said, "Alright, go ahead."
Seeing what had occurred, Greeter Dudette came over and said she would help us. Apparently, she had learned how to use her notebook in the interim.
She explained that we'd have to return to the store on another day to meet with a technician and said that the first opening in the schedule was three days hence. I tried to stay calm, but the fuse was now lit on my Italian temper.
"When we return," I asked through gritted teeth, "how long will the appointment take?" She responded, "About ten minutes." I then said, "To clarify, when we return, we'll meet with a technician and have a new battery installed in ten minutes?" "Oh no!" she answered. "It'll take ten minutes to meet with a technician and then at least an hour and a half for the battery to be installed. You might want to plan on going back home while the work is being done."
I quickly did a calculation in my head. Since the store is 20 minutes from our house, we will have made three roundtrips between our house and the store to get a battery installed, for a total driving time of 120 minutes, or two hours.
The fuse began sputtering.
With smoke coming out of my ears, I asked, "Why can't we just leave the phone here and you contact us when it's ready?" "Sorry, but you have to first meet with a technician," she responded.
Not being quick on the uptake, it took a while for it to dawn on me that Apple wants to make it difficult to get a new battery so that customers will buy a new phone instead. Besides, other than frugal fuddy-duddies, most of Apple's customers wouldn't want to be seen at Starbucks with a two-year-old phone.
Dudette then added, "You should back up your data before coming back, because the data could be lost during installation."
The fuse began hissing loudly.
I thought to myself that auto dealers learned long ago how to hook up an auxiliary power source to a customer's car when changing the car battery, so that driver settings and data aren't lost. Evidently, Apple hasn't learned this.
Sparks from the fuse had now set my clothes on fire.
Knowing that an explosion was imminent, my wife nudged me aside, made an appointment for five days hence when it was convenient for both her and Apple, and led me out the door with my pants smoldering.
On the day of the upcoming appointment, I'll be doing something much more pleasant than going back to the Apple Store with her. I'll be putting beans up my nose.