I drove to Sacramento to meet up with friends for an annual ride. When we arrived I realized that I had lost the charger for my laptop, so we detoured to the Apple store.
There are no young customers at the Apple store. They buy their stuff online and fix their stuff online. The Apple store does have young people in it, though., the sales staff. They are there to guide the stupid old people through the circuitous maze leading to their credit card.
“I need an adapter charger thingy,” I said.
The chic Mac jock in hipster shoes and a ragged beard smiled. “Sure! Which laptop do you have?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
This fazed him exactly zero, and how could it? He hears it every day, a thousand times. “Does it have a magnetic connector?” he asked.
“I don’t know. What’s that?”
He knew that my very ignorance meant I didn’t have one. “So the power cord plugs into a little socket?”
“And when did you buy the laptop?”
“About a year ago.”
“Fifteen or thirteen-inch screen?”
“I don’t know.”
“Kind of big or kind of little?”
“Kind of big.”
“Here’s what you need,” he smiled, guiding me to the adapter charger thingy.
I stared at the $79 price tag and pretended that I hadn’t just been to China, the country of origin, where they were selling these in the street for $5.
“You’ll also need the cord,” he smiled, pointing me to a little box with a wire cord in it. $15. They’d had those on the street in Chengdu, too. One buck. For three.
Then Yasuko chimed in. “I need a new phone charging cord.”
“Okay,” the hip guy smiled again, pulling down another $10 cord.
I handed him my credit card meekly. He had gotten to the end of the maze so fast, almost as if he’d done it a million times before. The total was over $120, with tax.
Behind me some other stupid old people were speaking baby English to a different staffer, who had asked “What seems to be the problem?”
“Our Internet doesn’t work,” the stupid old man said.
“Let’s have a look,” he said, whisking them away to the Genius Bar, which is what they call the wallet vacuuming station. “And see if we can’t get this fixed.”
I half expected the stupid old people to pull the Internet out of their pocket to show the Mac jock, but they didn’t need to. He was already 99% of the way to the end of the maze.