I got MyHusbandTheEngineer an iPhone for Christmas, figuring he could be the guinea pig and learn it before my Raspberry (aka Blackberry to those with more patience than I) broke and I was forced to adapt. He got even — he got me an iPad.
In the old days, when you bought a new phone it worked. But to give a fully activated cell phone as a gift today requires the synchronization of a space launch — the new phone comes alive; the old one dies … at exactly the same instant. Which makes it very hard to give such a gift to a person whose ear is glued to it and whose livelihood depends on it. So on Christmas Eve, John’s phone went dead (oh holy night), and the day after Christmas we went to the iWant store, not before having spent all of Christmas day trying to make the phone work on our (John’s) own.
“Come on, honey, let’s just let the 20-somethings fix it.” I’ve pried the iPhone and iPad out of his hands, and he has no choice but to follow me to the car.
This must be the place — red shirts are swarming like bees. I can tell I’m going to have to take the lead as my husband has grabbed the iPhone back and is busily punching away at the keys.
“Hi, how can I help you?” the cheery customer service rep asks. John ignores her.
“My husband got this phone for Christmas and needs to activate it.” John pulls the phone closer to his chest, ignoring both of us.
“Here, let me help you.”
“No, it’s OK, I think I have it,” he mumbles.
The rep’s cheery smile lasts two minutes and I say, “It’s time to give it up.” No movement.
She comes around the counter and says, “I’ll just look over your shoulder,” which is really hard to do because there’s a space of three inches between John’s chest and the phone.
“Sweetheart, we aren’t here to show the nice young lady that you know everything she was taught in her ‘IPhones for the Masses’ class. Give it up!”
Amazing …in two minutes she has his phone working.
Next we go to the iPad section to learn how to work that. We’re greeted by another flock of chirpy little 20-somethings in blue shirts. Very smart — color coding — so when your eyes cross from trying to read the tiny screens you know where you are. We give her our pertinent information and are told to watch the monitor above our heads because a techie will be dispatched to us at the hour/minute/second indicated there. (And please don’t keep asking, “Are we next?”)
As we wait, I take in the ambiance. John, being left brained, is focussed on all the toys he can buy to go with his iPhone. But I’m taking the pulse of the people to get an idea of how much anxiety this is going to cause. You can tell the age groups — corners of mouths curl up in inverse proportion to their “maturity.”
John is carrying my pink iPad so I’ll be handsfree. Every technology device I own is pink because that makes it less intimidating to me; I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to understand how it works to work it. I know all these things are essential to doing business today, but I can’t comprehend how anyone has time to do his job when he has to read all those manuals. Which is why I’m here … so I won’t have to.
Our assigned techie disengages from the flock, swoops down on us and says to John (whom he greatly offends), “Hi, is that your (pink) iPad?”
“We got these for Christmas and want to be able to work them when we leave.” I answer.
“Well what do you want to know?”
“Let’s start with what we should know.” Blank stare from the techie.
The shriek of a frustrated 60-something next to us jolts him back to our reality and he says, “Well, it’s very intuitive and easy — that’s what Apple is all about.”
“Look, I’m so intuitive I know what you’re thinking, and my husband’s an engineer. Neither of us can figure this out, so please don’t tell me it’s intuitive and simple. And it doesn’t even come with a training manual! Let’s start with how do I turn it on?”
“Look, if you gave your grandmother an iPad, you know, one of your castoffs, those made obsolete every two months by the latest version that costs $100 more, what would you tell her?” His eyes unfocus and I ask if there isn’t someone else (someone who was born on this earth and has a grandmother) who can help us.
We register again with the traffic controller, and since it’s lunchtime and even 20-somethings who think of nothing but texting, apping and friending need fuel, we’ve moved down to #30. So we have time to pick up Subways to go and will enjoy them after our next “savior” tries to solve our remaining issues.
We return. “Oh no, they’re back and they brought lunch,” the traffic controller’s expression says. We’re magically #1 again and are approached by the most perfect looking of the flock — smile, make-up, voice modulation — surreal.
“What can I help you with?” We present our list which isn’t all that long because I told John to pare it down since the helpers get evaluated based on how many customers they serve.
“No worries,” she says. Music to my ears! I can’t remember the last time I had no worries, but I don’t think she was referring to the rest of my life.
John asks, “Does Apple rate you by the number of customers you help?”
“No,” she unwittingly answers. Lucky for her John’s hungry.
“Were you born on this earth?” I ask
“Do you have a grandmother?”
“Is there a manual for this thing?”
“Why, of course!” She punches two buttons and there it is – staring at us on the iPad screen. There all along. And I suspect that she was really a robot.