Bad Apples

Photo by Kate Benz Bad Apples
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The people are standing, sitting, heads down, waiting in line, eyes buried in iPhones. Dockers tucked into crisp blue Oxford button downs and rugby ties next to man buns and lip rings, neon yellow fake nails and plaid school uniforms. Black, white, fat, thin, in a rush, using a cane to slowly walk by. Waiting one hour. Two. Sometimes, three. Too cool. Too old. Asking questions.

What would I have to pay for that?”

Can you tell me if it’s backing up?”

The cloud? I don’t know if it’s turned on…”

How much longer until my phone is ready?”

The Apple store is packed. Really packed.

Way packed,” one of the employees says. Everyone who’s an employee wears the same colored tee shirt with the little Apple logo, tangle of chargers and cords and Motorola walkie talkies hanging out of their pockets.

It’s busy tonight,” one of them chirps. Tortoise shell glasses, long blonde hair, one arm covered in brilliant swirls of orange, pink, green, yellow and black ink. “Even busy for a Friday. Still not as busy as a Saturday!”

I got in at four and it was cookin’,” another replies, standing at one of three square wooden tables flanked by eight wooden stools with silver metal legs.

It’s been non-​stop since ten,” someone else wearing black rimmed glasses, cargo shorts, and a visible panty line revealing a preference for briefs, chimes in.

Do you need help finding anything?” they all ask the people as they wait among iMacs and iPhones and iPads and Apple watches, silicone phone cases and leather phone cases and nylon watch bands, MacBook leather sleeves, Apple pencils, Beats headphones, Beats earphones, EarPods, Smart Keyboards, lightning docks, charging docks, under the live sports and news streams from Apple TV 4K.

Fourteen navy shirts are zipping back and forth across the floor. Cracking jokes, laughing, looking, waiting, panicking, talking into microphones hidden under their tees (Brad… it’s lunchtime. Brad… I have Amy coming out to tag you for lunch), eyes buried in their Diagnostic Consoles, finding answers.

It’d be $178 for the upgrade.”

Yep, it’s backing up your contacts now.”

Yep, the cloud is on. You’re good.”

Your phone should be done by 6:30.”

If you’re waiting to get checked in, can you form a line up against the wall so we keep this area clear?” someone says to a line of six people hovering next to a 27-​inch iMac with the $2,299 price tag, 8 gigs and 2 terabyte Fusion Drive.

Everyone standing in line has their iPhone out. And the iPhones are all doing something. Ringing. Dinging. Pinging. Downloading. Backing up. Powering down. Crashing.

Oh… that’s not supposed to be in Italian,” a navy shirt says, making a face as he peers into one of them. “Well, I like to say that out of one million, you’re guaranteed to get one melon.”

They’ll run diagnostics that figure out what the problem is: hardware, software, going nowhere.

If that doesn’t work, we can give it an MRI,” the guy with the visible panty line offers, leaning against the table as he peers into the phone that’s speaking Italian. “Make sure it’s clickin’ and tickin.’”

MRI?” the lady asks. “As in, our MRI’s?”

Yep!” he says. “As in our MRI’s. Phones are a lot like humans.”

Who does it better?” she asks.

Depends,” he smiles. “The failing or the succeeding?”

Kate Benz

Kate Benz has been a professional writer for the past fifteen years with bylines appearing in The Tribune-​Review, Pittsburgh Magazine, Table Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly, and LOCAL Pittsburgh Magazine. She is also the author of an “Images of America” book on the history of Cranberry Township. When she is not writing, you can find her thoroughly enjoying a co-​dependent relationship with her dog or taking long, romantic walks down the makeup aisle.

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