About a year ago, I wrote about how I made an ass of myself while buying a new cell phone. Perhaps that's what happens when I'm out of my technology comfort zone. I don't know. Put me in the middle of an Apple store or a Sprint store with the intent to purchase and I get kind of nervous and a little amped up. Before I know it, I'm making an ass of myself.
Click here to see how I did this a year ago.
Yesterday I turned in my work computer to the administration building. Actually, it was a loaner, since (as I put it) my laptop "got thirsty and decided to have a little drink of coffee." Turns out coffee speeds people up but slows computers down. To a stop, actually.
So this loaner had my everything on it. Files, pictures, music, and access to the outside world- beyond actually going outside and greeting people face-to-face like they did in olden-timey days. My laptop was my lifeline to all things human. From its glowy screen I learned about people ingesting "bath salts" and chewing other people's faces off. I learned that Justin Bieber went off stage and ran into a big piece of glass, only to go back on stage again to perform more musical Bieberisms and suffer a concussion after the concert. I learned that a Star Trek dude's ashes went up in space and that one of my friends likes Ikea. Seven like Spotify. Three like Moby. I feel so learned with my laptop connecting me to the world. Learn-ed.
And here I found myself being let into a dark room full of computer carcasses and placing my laptop on top of a pile of others. It was after-hours and I was told to "just put it over here- someone will get to it on Monday." Get to it? Some of the laptops' slow-blinking hearts were still beating. Run away, little ones! I wanted to yell. They're coming for you on Monday! Wiping you clean! You'll have no idea who you even were. It occurred to my that I may be over-dramatizing this handing in of my laptop a bit. But it was my laptop. Wasn't it?
No. Actually it belongs to the district and isn't even meant for my personal use. Lesson planning and emailing parents is one thing. Staying up till the wee hours of the morning refreshing my Facebook page in the hopes that someone, anyone, would post something as my eyes glaze over and my head keeps trying to nod itself to sleep is another.
So, there it went. On the pile.
Like someone who puts a dog down and rushes straight for the Humane Society for another, I made impressive time driving from the administrative building to a nearby Apple store.
ENTERING THE STORE:
I don't know if you've ever been in an Apple store, but it's a little creepy. Everything seems to glow from underneath and it feels a little like everything and everyone in there could be controlled by HAL. If nerds mated with Starbucks Baristas, you'd get Apple store employees. A little hip. A little nerdy. Pudgy bearded W.O.W. guy, sassy pretty-faced gay guy, and multi-colored dreadlocks girl all mingle here as employees of the big Apple. Their casual blue polos say "Hey, I'm approachable. I could sell you a Mac or retrieve your golf balls for you." I'm kind of down with that.
When I walk in I see about 25 employees in there. No shit. Some are with customers, hovering over glowing tables and tapping away at keyboards. Others are stationed at an area to help set up new purchases. Then there are those standing in twos and threes, looking like awkward teens at a school dance waiting for someone to ask them to the floor. I feel an overwhelming sense of "Who do I choose?"
I don't have to think for long, as bearded W.O.W. guy chooses me.
"Can I help you?" His eyes look reddish and glassy. I wonder what Apple's drug testing policy is. As long as the guy can sell me a laptop, I really don't care.
"Uhhhhh," I say, with shifty eyes and a nervous disposition for no reason at all. "I need a laptop. I don't have one right now. I mean, I had to give mine back to my school. Not that I was doing anything bad with it or anything. I mean, I know some people look at nasty stuff on their computers and then their company finds out and then they have to give it back. Yeah, that's not why I had to. I'm leaving. To teach. In Korea. I'm laptopless." It's a little strange that with everything that flew out of my mouth just then I'm most concerned that he'll think I said the word "topless" and picture me as such.
"Oooookay." That's what the cell phone guy said a year ago. "Ooookay." Like, handle this customer with care. She's liable to go cuckoo right here in the store. "Did you know what you want?"
I bring my hands up and start typing away. Like air drumming or air guitar. Only this was air typing. "Like this. Something I can go like this with."
"You want a laptop?"
"Well...let's start over here."
BEING SHOWN DIFFERENT LAPTOPS:
"The MacBook Pro is our most popular. It can do everything that...Are you okay?"
Until he said something, I didn't realize I had brought my fingers up to my mouth and was making a little motion almost like my lips were itchy and each finger was independently and quickly scratching them. It could also look like I'm trying to tame a very unruly harmonica. I do this when I'm nervous or stressed.
"Oh. Me? Yeah. I'm just...did I tell you I'm without a laptop right now?"
"Yes." He looks at me with a little bit of pity. I think it's pity. It could be fear. "We'll get you one here in a bit. You'll have one again real soon."
"It's just...I haven't been without one for 8 years."
"I know. We'll get one for you here in a bit. It's okay."
"It's okay," I try to soothe myself. More lip scratching.
"It's okay," he says. "Why don't you come over here and look at this one. It's super-light."
Off we go to the MacBook Air table. Now I switch from anxiety to excitement.
"Yes! I will take one of these!"
"Oooookay.....do you want to know more about-"
"This one!" I've positioned myself above one of them and am mock-typing away. Clickity-clickity-clickity. "I'm sending email!" (I'm not really.) Clickity-clickity. "Now I'm on Facebook!" (I'm not really.) Clickity-clickity. "Look! I'm checking the weather!" (Not really.)
"Okay, there. Looks like you like the MacBook Air."
"Yep. I'll take it."
"Now, do you want an 11 inch or 13 inch screen?"
Here you can insert the sound of a needle being dragged across a record, and the music suddenly stops playing.
"Wait...what? Which one? Oh, there's two. I don't know. Which one do I want?"
He shrugs his shoulders.
"Does it really matter? This one's bigger, but...wait. Will I be bummed out if I get the smaller one? I mean, will I wish later that I got the bigger one? AH! This one has a tiny google bar! It's tiny! Oh, no! Will the tiny google bar bother me? It might. Wait...maybe it doesn't matter. Will it matter? Will it bum me out? Wait..." I go on like this for a bit, not really pausing enough for W.O.W. to say anything. He continues to shrug his shoulders with each question I ask. I settle on the larger screen.
GETTING THE PRICE:
"How much is this going to be. WAIT! Don't tell me! WAIT! I guess I have to know. Okay. Okay." I take a few deep breaths. "Tell me." I scrunch my face up like I'm about to get punched. I writhe around a bit. People are looking. I am clasping at my gut. I am sure, looking back on it, that it may have appeared I was going into labor or about to have a horrible accident right there in the middle of the store.
He tells me the price.
"Oh, sweet Jesus! Oh, fuck! REALLY? That's a lot! Oh, shit! Okay. Okay. It's okay. I just have to sell my car. Like THIS WEEKEND! Want to buy my car? For real. I'm selling my car."
He does not want to buy my car. Nor do the people in the store within earshot. I know. I asked them. "Okay. Fine. Here. Take this." I hand over my credit card and then emit a series of hurt-animal whimpers. "Oh, man......ohhhhh, man......ohhhhhh, man...." I mumble as he swipes the card. Then I start hop-dancing. This, too, I do when a little nervous. It looks a little like a cheerleader trying to psyche herself into a cheer, but I never actually get to the cheering part.
"There we go," W.O.W. says. "Now let me just go in the back and then take you over to [I was really hoping to get the hot technician guy, but I was led to a guy who was the human equivalent of Teddy Ruxpin] so he can get you all set up.
TEDDY RUXPIN UNVEILS THE NEW LAPTOP:
W.O.W. brings out a thin, sleek box wrapped in clear plastic and sets it on the table in front of Teddy Ruxpin. Teddy rips a tiny bit of the plastic and asks me to remove the rest. "Are you okay?" he asks. I realize that I'm still whimpering.
"Me? Oh. Yes. It's just that...I'm trying to pretend I didn't just spend a lot of money that I don't have. Let's pretend that's a loaf of bread."
"But it's not a loaf of bread. It's a laptop."
"Yeah. But let's just pretend it's a loaf of bread and that you're just going to slice it up for me."
"You can't slice up a laptop."
"Well, that's good. Because that's not a laptop. That's a loaf of bread."
I remove the plastic. "Open the box by lifting the top," he says. This is weird. Is he not allowed to touch it, or is this supposed to be some magical moment created by Apple? I open the box. Inside is my silver laptop, also covered in plastic, snuggled into some black foam. "Now remove the plastic by-"
I am pawing at the plastic in a frantic way because I like the sound it makes and I can't quite seem how to get it out of there.
"-No. Just lift this tab he-"
Still frantically pawing. Squeeking sounds are being made. People look from several directions.
"Right here! The tab right here! Pull this tab!" Ruxpin shout-whispers.
"Oh. Okay. I got it." I remove the plastic.
"Now, lift up the lid."
"It's like we're doing a little surgery. If you ask me for a scalpel, I'm going to freak out a bit. Doctor."
He might of smiled. I can't tell. I was pawing at the plastic that I took off of the laptop. Plastic that smelled like....
And here I began to sniff everything in the box. The keyboard. The screen. The foam. The computer cord. "And this one smells like a new Barbie! And this one smells a little like some crayons. And this one smells like..." Maybe it was at this time that the other blue-shirted Apple hipster-nerds began to feel a bit of pity and/or concern for Teddy Ruxpin. Maybe it was before.
Either way, we went on in this way transferring files and setting things up for about an hour. I might have danced a bit to some Ace of Base. I might have smelled some of the items on the accessory wall. I might have asked a few more people if they were interested in buying my car.
I don't know. I was excited! A new laptop! And my connection to the world was not severed! And I was nervous. I just dropped a butt-load of money that I'm not too entirely sure I have for something that ten years ago I was perfectly fine without.
I mean, I don't need a laptop. I don't need it like I need food, air, or water. But here I am, on a Friday night, with the option of connecting with real live people for, say, a movie or dinner. And I prefer to be in my house, with my dog curled up next to me on the couch, and my fingers clicking away on the keyboard of my new MacBook Air, so I can communicate with you. The collective you. The "out there somewhere" you. And when I've had enough, instead of waiting for the evening to be over and to putting my key in the ignition and make the drive home, I will type the last word of the last sentence, followed by a period more than likely, and turn off my connection to the world.