We all know that moment when you can sense your computer is about to die. The signs range from a subtle lag in trackpad sensitivity to a very noticeable flickering and sputtering screen, and, no matter how well we think we know computers, there are just some things that we know we cant fix. When that happens- when the problem can’t be solved by a software update or by googling the shit out of your operating system and digital symptoms- some of us have no other option than forking over our computers to so-called technical wizards. Geniuses, if you will.
I have a love-hate relationship with Apple. My dad had one of the early generation macbooks, and I credit my awesome hand-eye coordination to the hours I spent playing brickles on that small black and white screen. I literally grew up on various Mac products, and I generally love everything that comes out of Steve Jobs’ magical workshop. Also, I love going inside Apple Stores. Everything is perfect. All the interactive and visual displays flash new programs and shortcuts, and, when waiting for your appointment, you can awkwardly perch on a too-small-round-ball-chair and amuse yourself with games targeted to a much younger demographic. (You know you do it- don’t lie.) Everything is perfect until you get called up for your appointment and you suddenly remember why you’re there. You sit down across from a smiling store official, and you brace yourself for being treated like an idiot for the next fifteen to twenty minutes.
My most recent visit went like this:
“My screen won’t turn on. I think it’s a problem with the backlight or connecting cables.”
“Well, let’s check the battery first.”
“It’s fully charged.”
“We’ll let’s just plug it in and double check”
The “Genius” smiled at me and proceeded to plug my computer into a power source.
I was prepared for this. I was prepared for the time-consuming line-by-line check of common and idiotic solutions for non-problems, and I nodded silently with pretend interest as he finally explained to me in very simple terms (twenty minutes later) that my computer had a problem with a broken backlight and some faulty connecting cables. I actually think he explained it to me as a problem with “the light that lets you see things on your screen.”
. . .
All of us in the ‘Cac are generally given the benefit of the doubt. Students, professors, and other administrators treat you with a level of respect and assume that you know what’s going on. People take it for granted that you know how to function as a highly competent person, and you’re given the freedoms and responsibilities commensurate to that status. Sitting on that awkwardly-high stool, I was insulted. Why was the bar set so low? Why did he assume I had the intelligence of mushroom?
As I waited for him to return with the paperwork for my computer, I tuned into the conversations around me. I heard the mother and daughter pair sitting next to me ask the same question three or four times before finally understanding how to download songs on an iPhone, and I almost cracked up listening to the teenage boy on my left complain about how his MacBook stopped working after dropping it out of a moving car.
Living in the ‘Cac bubble, we’re used to a higher level of conversation. We’re used to being self-sufficient enough to have general idea of what’s going on. We take these assumptions as standard, and, to put it bluntly, we’re spoiled. We’re spoiled, and it’s awesome.
It’s the end of summer, and I think we’re all starting to get that back-to-school itch. We’re all aching and yearning to see our friends and start those activities and classes and parties that make September through May the best part of the year. My trip to the Mac store made me realize I’ve officially entered ‘Cac withdrawal, so here’s to counting down the days, aggressively e-mailing res life with excuses to move in early, and, most importantly, here’s to getting ready for the next best year of your life.