July 14, 2011

The man in the Apple store lied to me. He LIED TO ME. But then, I knew he would.

I hate the Apple Store. My kids, of course, love it. The stuff in there is so sleek, so stylish, so…so…expensive. The kids know how Apple stuff works, too, even though our home computers are all Intel.

I stop to fiddle with a MacBook Pro—which, if you don’t know (I didn’t until I walked into the store) is their basic laptop. OK, here’s the touchpad, but…where are the clickers? The kids show me: You tap on the touchpad. That’s the equivalent thing to a mouse click. I obediently tap. Nothing happens. “No, Dad, like this….” The hell with it.

Will there, I wonder, be some lasting psychological effect on my kids—they are 16 and 18—from having been raised with Intel machines rather than Macs? I know they feel there is a class angle, though filial piety restrains them from saying so out loud. The posher among their friends, the ones whose parents have big houses down by the water with cleaning services and lawn services and boats (and boat services), all own Macs.

“Trust me: Apple Inc. is a limb of Satan.”

Do Intel machines say “white trash”? Cost-wise, they very well might: The serviceable little Dell N5010 I bought myself last month for $1,200 matches quite precisely, in gigahertz and gigabytes and battery life and screen size, the 15-inch MacBook Pro my daughter is lusting after, for which the Apple Store wants $1,800. What am I getting for that extra $600? Not clickers, obviously. A brand name, I suppose.

And then there’s the store assistants’ attitude. One hates to generalize about an entire category of humanity, but in their mien toward customers, Apple Store employees seem not to range outside the narrow band from brusque to snotty. I have been told—here I have no experience at all and must perforce rely entirely on hearsay—that the very highest class of ladies’ clothing stores, jewelers, milliners (are there still milliners?), and the like all give rude service. Up there among the carriage trade, apparently, consumers don’t feel they’ve had a worthwhile shopping experience unless they’ve been insulted. The Apple people seem to strive for some similar cachet; or perhaps it’s that I trigger their whitetrashdar.

I drag the kids out of the stinking place, telling the haughty 17-year-old employee who favored us with ninety seconds of his time that we are off to Best Buy to do some comparison shopping. We’d be wasting our time, he sniffed, ostentatiously erasing our vile greasy fingerprints from his precious wares. “We set the prices on our machines. They charge what we tell them to.” Subtext: How would they dare do otherwise? We’re Apple, you know.


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