My Appointment at the Genius Bar.

Tobyjoe and I purchased a computer for my dad recently. I use the word “purchased” but what I really mean we took his credit card number, clicked a few buttons, and had it shipped to our house. Tobyjoe spends the majority of his day talking to computers. He tells them what to do, how to act, servers, too. He talks to them through something that looks like this:

I’m terrified of The Terminal. I have used it twice, under the intense supervision of my husband. One time, I had a Word file that would not go away. I moved it to the trash, hit empty trash, and it still would not go away. I did a force delete, it still wouldn’t go away. Eventually, I had no choice, and so I asked Tobyjoe for help. He gave me a bunch of commands. Not to sound dramatic, but it was quite scary. I was convinced I would accidentally type in the command for “DELETE EVEYTHING ON THIS COMPUTER RIGHT NOW”. I am not sure if such a key command exists but I’m self-centered enough to think I stand the chance of creating such a command. (It was like performing open Mac brain surgery only without all the blood, death, and hot McInterns.) After a few commands the file went away, just like that. Poof.

Anytime a new computer enters the family, Tobyjoe baptizes it. When my father bought his desktop, Tobyjoe took care of setting it up and talking to the Apple Genius. Whenever I get a new computer, Tobyjoe sets it up and applies whatever magical voodoo he has. When I spilled TheraFlu into my TiBook, he took care of having it fixed.

My parents are taking a HUGE trip this spring. They’re driving across the United States of America and my father needs to be able to play solitaire, check his email, send iChats to my brothers and me, and pay the bills, and, oh yeah, apparently, according to my father, my mother needs it for pornography. So, we were in charge of buying, accepting, and setting up my dad’s new laptop, which I enjoy doing even though it feels a little bit like having someone else’s baby.

We received the computer a little over a week ago. It looked lovely. It smelled even lovelier. The actual smell made me want to go buy one for myself. (Is this what it’s like for men who like cars? Do you get into your buddy’s new car and suddenly you need a new car, too? Because I’m starting to understand that now.) But there was one little, itty-bitty thing wrong with it, or so I thought. According to the Genius at the Genius Bar at the SoHo Apple Store, the “problem” I reported on is perfectly normal for the glossy screened Mac Books.

Here’s what it looks like:

Granted, my illustration above was created in Photoshop, so it may appear to be more obvious (or vice versa) because the guy at the Genius Bar couldn’t see it at all. I told him to look at it at a 45-degree angle, the angle in which I could see it clearest, and he did so. Nothing. He came around to my side of the counter and I knew he wouldn’t see it from there because he was no longer behind the counter and therefore laymen. I moved the window around because the ghost follows the window, but he didn’t see that either. No matter what we tried, changing the color of the background, upping (and lowering) the contrast, he still couldn’t see it. He even took the computer into the back, where it’s darker (in order to simulate a home environment, because not even the cleanest chemical lab in all of Germany is as pristine and bright as an Apple Store). He said he saw what appeared to be a reflection and then told me that it’s completely normal on the glossy Macs. I had no idea. I am used to the matte finish.

He made a formal complaint with Apple Care and kindly told me that “no one else has ever said anything about this before. Ever.” I tried to save a little face by explaining that I was a graphic designer with better than 20/20 eyesight and after noticing the “blemish” (that’s in quotes because I guess it’s not a blemish after all) that was the only thing I could see. He understood, being a designer himself and suggested we exchange it for a matte version. “But you’ll have to call Apple online if you ordered it online because we have a totally separate inventory.”

I left with the computer as is. On my way out of the store, I swung by two displays and tried to check them out and I’m pretty sure I saw it on those as well. But I’m also pretty sure that at that point my eyes were playing tricks on me. I also didn’t look very intensely because I looked like an idiot standing in the crowded Apple Store looking at computer monitors at 45 degree angles and slowly moving a window back and for across the screen. Maybe this is totally normal. Maybe I’m the one with the problem.


  1. I sense some trouble when I get home tonight.


  2. I do believe that “screen issues” related to the new “glossy screen” on that laptop…….
    BUT I have a “better” Genius Bar story…….I brought in my 20” iMac [thank god I bought the three year warranty] for the second time, and while I was waiting to talk to the first “Genius”, a second “Genius” handed off my machine to another customer as a “completed repair” and she walked out the door with it and drove forty miles south with it!!!. Eventually, it got to the point where some “Genius” had to tell of ye olde switcheroo [this was at the Mall of America Apple store]…….which wasn’t THAT big of a deal because it was there due to a dead internal power supply, so the custie that “ran off” w/ my data couldn’t turn the iMac on…..and “eventually” to cover their ass they literally replaced everything inside except for the screen, HD, RAM and burner……so yeah…….it certainly is an odd experience having your machine “diagnosed” by a GENIUS while the it is “no longer” EVEN IN THE STORE!!!! Or even better, having the GENIUS explain that “a customer” had accidentally picked my machine by mistake……and I’m like, “So…….you’re telling me that a customer literally WALKED BEHIND THE GENIUS DESK and just took it? Then how do you know which customer took it and where it is?” AND THEN, it came out, the GENIUS had to ADMIT that HE, in collaboration with a FELLOW GENIUS, had made the mistake, and my iMac had literally only stayed in the store 90 seconds tops [while I had to wait at least half an hour to tell me this] but also, THAT THIS HAD NEVER EVER EVER HAPPENED BEFORE….It’s a very odd thing to see GENIUSES with egg on their faces, because, in APPLELAND, if you CAN’T TRUST a GENIUS, then who can you TRUST???


  3. I once heard the hypothesis that two guys who don’t know what they’re talking about can actually know LESS than either guy who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I wonder if the same applies to geniuses. Does putting two geniuses together cause some sort of inverse net retard effect?

    Sometimes geniuses get so preoccupied in a genius pissing contest they outthink themselves into idiocy.

    BTW, my trusty desktop PC is dead—a casualty of Buffalo’s freak October storm and power disruption. I wish I had a mac, but for $100 I think I can fix it with a new hard drive. I need to resurrect this machine so I can spend the winter playing World of Warcraft.


  4. someone at work brought in their new macbook and the smell was awesome. i’m also like that with new sneakers.


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