Posted by: HAT | July 10, 2012

RipAnn Van Winkle and the Apple Store

Dutch people playing at Nine Pins

Nothing like the Apple Store

Hi, Gang!

Have just been learning concretely that the occasional interaction with technology, like a blog post once a year or even once a quarter, and the usual routine email and software one already knows how to use, does not enable a person to keep up with technology. I’m sure this isn’t news to you all.

My own obsolescence is increasingly vivid, but it has been underscored in the past week by my visits to the Apple Store and my efforts to update the dusty, cobwebby work blog before people might go see it because I wrote a post that will appear elsewhere this week on a blog that a number of people actually read. Since some of those people might actually donate to the cause, and since we are broke and facing a fall program line-up that could use funding, it seemed wise and prudent (wisdom and prudence are sisters . . .) to do some updating. At least clear out the outdated sidebar entries and drop in an announcement about the lecture happening in September, the name of the lecturer, etc.

When I did that, I learned that a new little pop-up has infested the blog, that shows up superimposed on the text as soon as one scrolls down far enough, in an ugly color that doesn’t match our custom CSS layout, and that seems to mean I just got something added to my “next actions list” that I wasn’t expecting and am not very happy about. Because, as we know, time marches on and technology has to march along with it. So, y’know, like, “keep up.”

I just don’t really want to have to keep up, sometimes. (I already had plenty on my “next actions” list.) But I realize that my preferences don’t count on this one.

The blog annoyance is going to be time-consuming. But it’s solitary and I can pursue it at my own pace in solitude and silence. The Apple Store is a whole different kind of harbinger.

I was compelled to enter the Apple Store by Nod (Number One Daughter), because of the shattered state of her iPod screen. After it slid off the roof of the car where it had been oh-so-securely set whilst a game of volleyball in the driveway was going on and cracked multiple ways, it seemed still functional – until little shards of glass started to work their way out of the matrix. So then the pressure was on to go to the legendary Apple Store and see if we could “fix” this problem. When we ended up in Louisville late last week, with just enough time to run a quick errand between appointments, it seemed wise and prudent (those sisters, once again) to make the visit.

I knew even before I entered the store that something was wrong. I could hear it. Standing on the threshold, I could see the back wall like the floor of a swimming pool. I could feel my abs tensing up and my jaw setting. It’s the feeling I associate with having to take a deep breath and dive in. To the sea of crowd and noise and conversation and sleek appliances lining the walls and taking up angular ash tabletop space with minimalist directional signage and vaguely threateningly possibly helpful possibly not t-shirted blue-toothed outfitted people in the aisle. It was very crowded and loud and difficult to walk into without coming into physical contact with another human-ish object.

I was able to hold my breath long enough to establish that fixing is not an option but replacement at some level of cost is, and that there was no next appointment for another 30 minutes, and to make an appointment for the next morning and get out of the store without being unkind to anyone.

I asked specifically. And no, Nod doesn’t mind the store, which I had already figured. It was just me and my antique sensibilities and aural accessibility issues.

We only had to make two more trips to the Apple Store, and deal with a few other much-smarter-than-us geniuses, and log on to Apple sites that force a person to guess what color they were thinking of when they designed the options before anything can be accomplished a couple of times to resolve the problem completely. I should consider myself fortunate, I’m thinking.

But I know I am staring at the MENE TEKEL on the firewall.

I have been thinking about “alternative worlds” for a long time, but clearly I have not been sufficiently imaginative, because I always thought that when things changed I would like it. Obviously, that was a particularly rookie lapse of logic, because there is no necessity involved there at all. Maybe I didn’t notice that right away because, being a baby boomer (albeit a late one), I was used to having the world designed for me for a long time. Decades. And am now just having to experience the shock of having dropped off the demographic edge of the flat earth that others had to face long ago. I can almost hear my grandmother saying “well, you’d better get used to it.” It won’t get better on the obsolescence score, surely.

And I don’t want to be one of those [shudder] romantics whose aim is to get things to roll back to some imaginary Back Then that never really existed but that from here looks bucolic and pristine and ideal.

But I am still going to try to organize my life so that I don’t have to go to the Apple Store too many more times.

This has me thinking about things like balance, voice, and the multiple dimensions of diversity, and how to make all that really liveable for everyone. I don’t expect my daughter not to visit the Apple Store. And I do want her to be able to communicate with me for a few more decades. So now there is a another new project on the projects list: how to make the alternative world(s) sufficiently congenial for all the inhabitants, without making them just the same old thing. It’s not news from nowhere, I know. But as old as that project is, it still seems to need thinking about.


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