A few weeks ago, I found myself in want of an Apple product. A simple adapter. But nothing is simple with Apple. They are hyper-proprietary and monopolic* by design. They set rigid prices and not-so-secretly want to punish you for buying their products from anyone but them. Even online was a little dicey, as I needed a guarantee that this adapter was going to do what I wanted it to do (the online comments were mixed), and if it did not, I wanted to return it (without paying shipping and a 50% restocking fee). In the end, I thought it best to go to -- dun dun dun -- the Apple Store.
I had never been to the Apple Store. I had only heard intimidating things about a bar full of geniuses. Young, hip, geniuses. Since I could neither beat them nor join them, I decided to throw myself on their mercy.
Before I even entered the store, I could see it: The Genius Army. In loose formation at the front door, back lit by a soft heavenly glow, these boys (and they were all boys) were clean and earnest and outfitted with enough communications equipment to invade a small South American country. But I was not daunted.
I limped in with my cane and my shawl and announced a little too loudly, "I remember when music was pressed into black vinyl." With the squad of young geniuses thus stunned, I bluntly confronted them with my true purpose. "I need to buy something," I said. "But, it's a small something. I just need an adapter." The smallest grunt was pushed forward. He looked smart enough. But he had no idea what he was up against.
"I need a Digital AV Adapter," I said.
"Right this way," he said, deftly navigating the crowded store. I followed, mesmerized. (Are the walls glowing?) Just then, I was almost hit by a genius as he repelled from the ceiling.
"Sorry about that," my genius said, as he pulled me to safety. "Special Forces," he explained.
"Yeah, someone probably called the new iPad, the iPad3. We can't have that kind of street talk in here."
"Oh," I said, disoriented. (Does the room have a pulse?)
At the accessory wall, he handed me a Digital AV Adapter; a little white gizmo about six inches long, in a solidly built white box.
"Is this the latest model?" I asked. I'd done my research. I knew the older model was not what I needed.
"Yes. We only have the latest models in the store."
"Will it do thus-and-so? Because I really need it to do thus-and-so."
"Yes, it is designed specifically to do thus-and-so."
"But will it do thus-and-so with my 'I *heart* Quilting' app?"
"And if it doesn't, can I bring it back?"
"Even if I break the factory seal." I used finger quotes for that bit.
"Of course. We know you'll have to open it to make sure it does thus-and-so."
"What about fascist restocking fees?"
"We don't charge restocking fees here."
"Do you have the cable that works with it?"
"Here you go," he said, before I had even finished asking.
"It's black," I said, not taking it from his hand.
"Yes, it is."
"The adapter's white," I said. Surely a genius could see where this was going.
"Yes," he said.
"If the adapter is white, why is the cable black?"
"Well, the cable is designed to work with a TV and most TVs are black."
"But it is also designed to work with the adapter."
"And the adapter is white."
"Yes." He smiled at me. And blinked. And said nothing. They must teach that at Genius School.
"Okay, where do I pay?"
"Actually you can just scan it with your iPhone and go."
"I don't have an iPhone."
"Oh. **coughs something that sounds like 'orange'**"
"Did you just call me an orange?"
"Why would I do that?"
"Can I pay cash?"
"I mean real US Federal Reserve Notes. Not iBucks."
"Yes. Of course. We accept United States Currency. We have to. It's the law." He knows this because they got sued for refusing to do just that.
My items were small. And, relatively inexpensive. But my genius knew his customers. "Would you like me to put those in an Apple Store bag for you?" he asked.
"Oh, could you?" I should be embarrassed by how excited I was (I think I clapped a little), but I don't care. I was an old orange in the Apple Store. What did I have to lose?
He handed me my beautiful drawstring bag and ushered me out to the front. I wanted to ask if I could just stand in the corner, clutching my bag, and watch the place fluoresce, but thought better of it. Those Special Forces guys don't mess around.
*I did not make this word up. I innovated it.