Go ahead. Take a bite. I did. I feel every bit as powerful as Eve in the garden. You’ve probably been tempted, too. Give in. I’m telling you: the Apple is good. If you’re thinking about buying a new computer, go ahead and cough up the extra cash. It’s worth it.
I’m a writer, so when my HP notebook died recently, it was a five-alarm fire in my life and, consequently, the lives of everyone around me. Let’s just say that I’m not one to suffer silently or alone. It was almost a literal five-alarm fire, in addition to being a metaphorical one. I smelled burning plastic. It doesn’t take a computer geek to know that no good will come from that smell.
I was unhappy, to put it mildly. You’ve heard the saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” right? There’s a reason for that cliché. Ask any mom: one month before Christmas is not a good time to try and massage a new computer out of the family budget. Do you know how many words I have to write to pay for a new Apple computer? Thousands. I’m not sure I can count that high. However, I’m entirely confident that there’s an Apple app that can figure out the total for me in a jiffy. I now believe that Apple computers can do the dishes and maybe cure cancer. I know they’re psychic for sure. They know what I want or need before I think of it myself, and they usually suggest a solution before I resort to begging. An Apple computer is what I imagine having a wife would be like.
For the last two years, I could not turn my computer off without dire consequences. I know, I know. Before you greenies (okay, now green is blue, I’ve recently learned, but you know what I mean) swoon in consternation, let me add in my defense that it wasn’t my fault I couldn’t turn off my laptop. Of course, I wanted to. I’m not a total idiot. I walk upright and have opposable thumbs just like the rest of you. I knew I was burning energy and money unnecessarily. Unfortunately, every time I managed to turn the dadgum thing off, there was no guarantee it would ever start up again. Sometimes it took days to resurrect. I became fearful of approaching my computer without prayer beads or garlic. I touched the keys ever so gingerly like they were packed with C-4 explosives. Every night, I schlepped my laptop into my walk-in closet and plugged it in there so I wouldn’t have to stare at the blue screen all night long like the giant nightlight from hell. Every morning, I hauled that sucker out again.
That got old mighty quick.
Finally, the day arrived when no amount of cajoling, pleading, force starting, bargaining with God, or crass profanity could raise a cursor flicker of life from my computer. I tried every trick I knew short of firing a shot of epinephrine into the hard drive. Nada. No sign of Lazarus.
I’d rather lose almost anything in my house than my computer. As a writer, I NEED my computer. I use it every single day. So I did what any woman in my position would do in such a crisis. I cried. I screamed. I drank. I pouted in a bubble bath. I threw a fit that would have embarrassed a two-year-old and whined about my computer problem to everyone who would listen.
Finally, I sucked it up and headed to the Apple store. That was a first. I’ve never bought an apple product before. Sure, my husband and kids have iPhones, iPods, and my husband has an iPad, but I just use whatever gadget is leftover when someone else in my house upgrades to a newer, faster widget. I look at it like my thirteen-year-old Suburban. As long as it gets me there, I don’t care what it looks like. I have no ego invested in technology.
I had two goals for my first Apple purchase: ease of use and reliability. Everyone I asked, every review I read, and random strangers I accosted on the street all said the same thing: buy an Apple. The kids in my carpool said, “You need an Apple, Mrs. T.” My 75-year-old father said, “You need to buy an Apple.” My teenagers said, “PLEASE, Mom, PLEASE buy an Apple!” I’d like to think that was an unselfish thought on their part, but I’m not so sure. If I’d asked a gypsy fortuneteller, I’m sure she would have said, “Go ahead, you cheapo woman. Get off your wallet. Buy an Apple.”
So that’s what I did. I arrived at the Apple store on a weekday morning, about five minutes before the doors were scheduled to open. There was already a line outside and a guy with a clipboard organizing the customers.
You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought. The economy stinks, and people are standing in line to buy this store’s products! That says a lot; don’t you agree? (I was reminded of the time when Blue Bell ice cream debuted in grocery stores. If you’d told me that someone new could come in and dominate the ice cream market with “homemade vanilla,” I’d have said, who do you think you’re kidding? This is not my first sashay down the frozen-food aisle. It just goes to show you. You can reinvent the wheel—or make another vanilla ice cream—and make a killing IF YOUR VANILLA IS BETTER THAN ANYBODY ELSE’S VANILLA.)
Blue Bell did that. So did Apple.
I was already defensive before I hit the door. I was determined not to be talked into buying a computer that could launch nuclear missiles. I don’t need that kind of temptation at my fingertips. I wanted to buy what I needed and only that. Price mattered to me. We have three teenagers at our house. They’re expensive. Every dollar counts.
First of all, every Apple employee I encountered was friendly. It was unnerving. Even the guy at the door with the clipboard was nice when I laid out my demands in a tone I would use to begin negotiations with terrorists.
“I don’t speak computer. I need someone who can be patient with me and translate what I think I want into what I should buy, and I need it today.”
“No problem,” clipboard guy replied.
“Okay,” I said, trying not to look as doubtful on the outside as I felt on the inside.
Then clipboard guy walked me inside to a row of computers and left me there to gawk while he summoned an apple genius. I’m not kidding about that. When Jeff arrived, that’s what his card said: Genius. You have to love that. I did. At first glance, I thought . . . this is not a good match. Jeff had a full beard, tattoos up both forearms, and although he was wearing the standard blue Apple T-shirt, he gave off a vibe of big-city, downtown hip. I, on the other hand, look exactly like what I am—a middle-aged, suburban mom. Then I met Jeff’s eyes. It was immediately apparent to me that Jeff was smart. Fabulous. I can work with smart.
Here’s one of the keys to Apple’s success: they hire smart people and train them well. Sounds simple; doesn’t it? Why doesn’t everyone do that? That would make my life so much easier.
Here’s the next amazing thing that happened. Jeff listened to me—really listened. I don’t mean that he kept his trap shut while I vented my computer angst and then launched into his sales spiel. Frankly, I don’t think he even had a sales spiel. Apple geniuses don’t work on commission. They just get paid well, so he had no personal incentive to sell me any particular product. Score another one for Apple.
I began to trust Jeff.
I spoke quickly, my eyes darting around the crowded store, certain that we would be interrupted at any moment and my chance at one-on-one help would vanish like a bag of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at a sleepover. Finally, I couldn’t stand the pressure any longer. My naturally bossy mother instincts hijacked my mouth.
“Are you going to get in trouble for spending so much time with me?” I asked, genuinely worried that he might.
“Don’t worry about that. I have as much time as you need,” he answered. “Really,” he said, when I looked skeptical.
I told Jeff I was positive I wanted an iMac desktop. No mouse. Trackpad. I left with my computer already loaded with software, my email up and running, and I was able to go home and plug in my computer BY MYSELF and use it immediately.
I’m not lying. That really did happen. Neither I nor anyone I know works for Apple. Honest.
For the next two days, I spent hours working on my new iMac. The desktop screen is HUGE. I literally got a pain in my neck struggling to find the right distance to make my progressive reading glasses work. For the first time in ten years, I was working on a desktop again, but my fingers seemed locked in laptop muscle memory. I grew increasingly frustrated.
When my husband came home from work the second day, I threw myself theatrically across the bed and declared dramatically, “I think I’ve ruined my life.”
“How so?” he asked in an even voice, while thumbing through the mail, not nearly as moved by my crisis as I needed him to be.
“I hate working on my new computer! I think I bought the wrong one. I am miserable!”
“You’ll get used to it,” he advised, “give it some time.”
“No, I won’t,” I said, “It doesn’t feel right to me. It’s my own fault, too. I thought it was what I wanted, but I was wrong.”
“So take it back,” he said.
“How can I? I’ve been using it for two days. It’s loaded up with all my stuff,” I said.
“Yeah, but it’s Apple,” he said, “They’ll work it out.”
You know what? They did. I called for One-to-One (Buy it. That’s all I can say. Even Consumer Reports recommends the Apple warranty and One-to-One service.) help. They made an appointment for me to go back to the Apple store and exchange my iMac for a MacBook Pro.
I arrived at my appointment loaded for bear. I was prepared to argue. If anyone even looked at me funny, I was likely to burst into tears. I’d worried all night. Guess what? I didn’t have to argue, explain, or justify myself at all. There was no guilt, nothing but let’s-get-you-what-you-need customer service. It was all about me, me, me. What a lovely thought. I’m going back soon for a specialized tutorial, and I’m obnoxiously excited about it.
Yep. I drank the Kool-Aid. I’m now an Apple groupie. My son leaves for college soon, and as soon as I can scrape up enough money to buy him his very own Apple, I’m going to do it. Eventually, the other two kids are going to get one, too. I’m never going back to inferior products and service again. I mean it. One bite of the Apple, and I’m hooked forever.
When I make a big purchase like this, I always tell the salesperson, “I’m a Southern woman. Women talk. I’m also a humor writer, so beware. I’m going to write about you—nationwide. It can be good or bad. Your call.”