Until my wife and I received an iPad for a gift from my kids in May of 2012, our lives had been Apple-free. I was only vaguely aware of Steve Jobs as a celebrated American entrepreneur of high-tech gadgets. Never stood in line waiting for the iPhone. Knew he was considered a genius, but didn’t think he was in the same league as Thomas Edison. I realize much of this is heresy to folks younger than me, which constitutes most of the population. But folks, this isn’t a story about me, it’s a story about a real genius.
Maybe like me, you’ve never met a genius. If that’s the case, all you have to do is go into the shiny Apple Store on Walnut Street where they actually employ geniuses. If I had known there was a Genius Bar at the rear of the store, I would’ve visited much earlier. Looking back at the bars I’ve been in, there wasn’t a genius in sight. But this is Apple, people.
The Genius Bar is actually a tech support station where Apple employees offer support for their many products. These employees bear the title of “genius.” (Just so you know, Apple is devoid of any sense of irony, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad people). If you have a specific problem with one of their products, Apple requires you to make an appointment, preferably online (please don’t mention you had problems making an online appointment to an employee, or you might be asked to patronize Microsoft).
After two years of bliss where my wife and son shared our iPad while I remained mostly an onlooker, we woke up one day to find we had a problem. Our iPad had serious streaks of pink and blue running through it. We tried turning it off and then back on again (sometimes cable boxes and iPads respond to this admittedly non-technical approach). Our iPad screen remained a blue and pink blur. I suggested we place our iPad on eBay where we might be able to sell it to colorblind users. No response received. It was finally with great trepidation that I made an appointment with an Apple genius on Walnut Street.
Earlier in this column I mentioned Apple prefers that customers make an appointment online. If you’re ever in the need of entertainment, try making an appointment by phone. As with many answering systems these days, it is difficult to get a human being on the line. Apple has perfected the business of keeping you from speaking to a human being into an art form. The end result is you wind up shouting profanities into the phone at a perfectly polite robot, something for which you feel vaguely ashamed.
Flash-forward to the day of our appointment. My wife and I entered the busy Apple store and wee immediately greeted by a pleasant non-genius designated employee (I wonder to myself how it must feel being one of the non-genius employees). She confirmed our appointment on her small Apple technical device. We were told a genius would be by shortly to help us.
I wondered whether he or she will resemble Albert Einstein or Madame Curie, but it turns out that the genius assigned to us was a kid with a scraggly beard, baggy cargo shorts and an Apple T-shirt. He was 15 minutes late and did not apologize. Apparently, being a genius means never having to say you’re sorry.
We handed him our two-year-old iPad almost apologetically because we don’t have the latest model. He sniffed at our device a bit disdainfully (there must be more pressing matters for geniuses to attend to), turned it over once or twice and agreed that the streaks are indeed blue and pink. This analytical process took all of about 30 seconds. I figured this guy really is a genius because he has solved our problem so quickly.
“Can’t be fixed,” he says.
“Can’t. They seal the backs of these things,” he explained. Is “they” another genius or a malignant non-genius employee? “Could be water got in it. Could’ve been dropped. Could’ve been a lot things. Can’t tell because, as I said, it’s sealed.”
“I can get you a replacement for $249 plus tax or move you up to the new model for $449 plus tax.”
“No other options?”
“Outside the warranty, and as I said the back is sealed. Can’t be repaired.”
We walked out without making a decision except that the Apple genius really seemed to be an Apple salesman of the non-genius variety.
Flash-forward to a discussion with my son-in-law. “Pop,” he tells me, “I heard that if you just lightly tap the iPad on each side three times, the screen returns to normal.”
“And you don’t have to wave a crucifix at it or hang a garlic wreath around your neck while doing it?” I said. Have I mentioned that I can be a smart-ass at times?
My son-in-law took a hammer and gave the iPad a couple of light taps and sure enough the blue and pink streaks disappear. The screen looks as good as new.
Memo to Apple: That’s real genius, and no, my son-in-law already has a good job. Incidentally, you might think about calling your geniuses something else.
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