The Irony of Apple’s Genius Bar (and the insanity of the line at the mall)

Maybe it’s just me. I don’t consider myself technically savvy nor especially ignorant, though when it came to choosing a smartphone, I went with Apple because of it’s user friendliness. At one point, several years ago, in a moment of weakness, I had a momentary lapse in judgement and fell for a Samson Galaxy. It didn’t work out and we broke up within the week. My husband tried to explain that it was just like a little computer… but I don’t want a little computer, I have a regular computer. I want a phone.

I’ve been with Apple since the iPhone 4. It was released in June of 2010 and other than that one dalliance that was out of this world, I mean the Galaxy, it’s been a steady eleven year relationship. I remember tearfully parting with my purple Motorola Razr flip phone with an Eeyore sticker worn away on the back and the T9 texting feature that seemed oh so advanced… the buttons on the outside that allowed me to switch songs on my playlist… I swapped it out for basically a 3×5 flat faced smart phone and have never looked back.

Until a few weeks ago. I started having issues. It started with Siri. She wasn’t listening to me. I guess it could’ve been worse, she could have been arguing with me or worse yet, correcting me. No, she was giving me the silent treatment. It was mildly annoying at first then got more irritating as time went by and I needed directions at an intersection or a familiar faced actor’s name… (Christopher Plummer).

Next I noticed that the volume didn’t sound as loud as usual. Sigh. Maybe I’m just getting older? But then I couldn’t hear people on the phone as well. One morning I had a few calls to make, appointments and insurance calls so I knew I’d be on hold for awhile. I put the phone on speaker and it was like magic. I could HEAR! So, I started using the speaker for all of my calls. That was ok until I was talking with a friend about a something super embarrassing and half the mall heard her hysterical laughter. It’s fine though, I don’t need to go back to that mall anyway.

Then, I started to hear an echo followed by “what?”. People couldn’t hear me.

What was the point of this f-ing phone?

So, fine. I decide to take it to T-Mobile. They suggested I take it to an Apple store where they could try to repair it or replace it, if I got in by the 12th of the month to still be within the warranty period. Super. Half a day in T-Mobile to gain another errand.

I went the their website to make sure the store was even open and learned I had to make an appointment to be seen. In order to get an appointment I had to answer the riddles asked by the Apple Chat. Such head scratchers as: Is the phone powered and turned on? Is there a case on the phone? Is any part of the case covering any of the speakers? What about the Do Not Disturb, is that turned off? Is the volume on? Have you tried restarting the phone? This completes the trouble shooting portion of the chat and I can now offer you an appointment time with someone at the Genius Bar. Great. The closest Apple store is in the Mall Of America. Pppfffff. Ok. Not my fav place to go but I guess…

The next day, the appointment was set for 11:45 am. We left the house in plenty of time and half way there, I realized I forgot the ONLY thing I needed for the appointment. My phone was sitting on the couch cushion waiting for me when we returned.

The next appointment was scheduled for 2:30 pm at another mall. It was getting close to time for me to leave and my husband lost the car keys and my kiddo lost my phone. After a brief freak out, I recovered the two things I needed and flew down the highway.

I walk/ran down to the first floor and just before reaching the Apple doors, was stopped by a security guard.

“Do you have an appointment?”

“Yes”

“Look over all of these symptoms and answer yes or no”

My eyes ran over the now all too familiar Covid-19 symptoms and I shook my head.

He guided me toward a small piece of blue duct tape and radioed my arrival.

A few minutes later, an official looking Apple rep complete with clipboard exits the store, looks around and calls out for Henry.

Now, there were about 12 people in line. There were two lines, one for people like me, needing a Genius and the other line for people without an appointment or picking up items ordered ahead of time.

Both lines were long.

I looked at the time, it was 2:39. Not horrible but not great either. I don’t know why I’m habitually late, like physically incapable of being on time.

The line shuffled up a bit and mall cop hurries over to me and points to the next little blue tape square.

Thanks guy, I know how lines work… tape.

I start scanning the mall. Looking to see what stores are still in business (not many) and try to ignore my grumbling tummy as the popcorn vendor pops a fresh batch. The Caribou coffee isn’t helping either. There appears to be a semblance of order to the line and I don’t dare step away for fear of banishment (even though I’m practically close enough to yell my order to the moose barista and perfectly flick my card into the waiting hands of the cashier).

More time, more names. This time I’m ahead of the game. I stop forward from the blue square to the big, blue circle. I glance at the uniform and give him two thumbs up, ya know, because I did it myself…

Then something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. It was a woman on the escalator. I immediately thought back to a conversation I’d had with someone about how it bothers them if someone is going down the stars without holding onto the handrail. Me too! Why would you not hold on? Who do you think you are, Evil Knevel? Anyway, I noticed her because not only was she NOT holding onto the railing, she was walking down the moving staircase. While staring at her phone. Was she insane? Did she have a death wish? Nothing good would come of this…inexplicably, nothing bad came of it either. She was fine and I was a combination of stunned, awe struck and a tab bit disappointed.

It isn’t long before there are people behind me. I mean, RIGHT behind me. No regard for the tape. Where are the cops when you need them? I finally spot him, my eyes wide as I jerk my head back. I sent him a mental message “Hey, they aren’t obeying the rules. There isn’t six inches between us, let alone six feet. Are you gonna get on this?”

He nods. Or nod. Just once down and heads over. Thank you.

Well, maybe not. It turns out the people behind me are friends of his. After a BORING conversation about life, kids, the weather, whatever, he wishes them luck AND LEAVES.

I’m irritated. What makes it worse is that aside from alternating lines (which I understand) they’re now calling people who have been behind me.

I get it. I was late. How long am I going to be punished?

I look at the time again and it’s 3:05.

The couple behind me has inched up so close, I can feel their 8 year old daughter’s breath on my arm hair.

My eye starts to twitch.

She then proceeds to gulp down mouthfuls of air and burp them back out. Over and over again. Did I mention that I was nauseous before this started? As you can imagine, it didn’t help.

After about the tenth burp, I started to fantasize about grabbing the security guards baton (they have those, right?) and using it as a pool cue. Boom, left side, corner store, super sonic burp to accompany.

After my triumphant shot, I’d swing the baton in one hand over my head like a ceiling fan before becoming a baseball player and knocking mom and dad outta the park.

A satisfied smile settled on my lips as I was momentarily distracted from this quasi hell.

Then, I suppose, instant karma happened as they were called in next.

I had been at the head of the line for at least 15 minutes. As I debated on whether to leave, knowing I’d have to reschedule another appointment and come back or just lay on the floor and have a full blown toddler tantrum, I decided to ask in my nicest voice “sir? Do you have any idea how much longer it will be?”

“You’re next” he said without looking at me or asking my name.

FINALLY, my name was called.

Matt apologized for the wait and led me to a long table and told me to have a seat. “Because of Covid, you’ll sit here and I’ll be down at that end of the table” he said.

Great. I thought I might need binoculars and a bull horn to communicate. It’ll be just like I’m on the phone. My hope started to dwindle.

He pulled out a tiny piece of equipment and plugged it in.

“I’m just going to run some diagnostics” he told me.

After a minute or so, he said my phone failed.

I was relieved. I wasn’t crazy or deaf! Then I wondered how do you fail a diagnostic test? It’s to diagnose, right? I’m used to personality diagnostics and imagined my therapist just looking over the results and telling me I failed…

Not wanting to say anything stupid, I asked “so, do you actually have to be a genius to work here?” Smooth.

He laughed, as I would have, had I not been so embarrassed.

“They give us pretty intense training… it’s more about knowing where to find the answers than actually having the answers. It’s way to much to remember.”

Great. So I probably could’ve just googled this.

Matt took out a chisel and a can of pressurized air. I couldn’t look.

I minute later, he handed my the phone back and asked me to make a call.

I dialed the number I knew by heart. One that was answered by a machine that would EVENTUALLY route my call but I didn’t need to stay on that long.

Keep in mind, the volume has been on high for weeks. I’m in a crowded store and am pressing the phone into my ear hole.

“THANK YOU FOR CALLING PARK NICOLETTE CLI”

“Holy shit” I yelled as I nearly threw the phone at the guy.

He smiled and I said “I mean… it’s fixed! Thanks!” as I ran out of there.

What happens at the Apple store… ends up on the internet.

Published by spiredone

I am what a majority of the general population would call "crazy" and at this point in my life, I wear that label with love. I am a lifelong circus act. I'm focusing on balance while learning to juggle. I write about deeply overwhelming emotions like grief and I also go out and perform stand up comedy. I am a constant work in progress, as we all are. So, join me on my journey if you'd like but respect is a must. Otherwise I'll have my elephant crush you in the center ring, under the Big Top. :) Seriously, who needs that negative shit in their life? Namaste.

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