I've logged plenty of time waiting at the Genius Bar in The Apple Store. If you're a regular reader of this column, you already know about the hours logged. I wonder if, through osmosis, I've attained Genius level status myself. Well this trip to the Genius Bar (abbreviated as "GB" from here forward) is directly related to a trip I made a few months ago to the GB. That initial trip was made because our "Early 2005" model Power Mac G5 - you know, the temperature-flawed model with more fans than anything else - leaked its coolant and caused the fans to blare even louder than usual.
After doing a little online research, I found that this G5 coolant leak was more than just an isolated occurrence. It was widespread enough among G5 owners to warrant some peeved Apple devotees to start posting threats for a class action lawsuit. Needless to say, someone at Apple must have read the grumblings, because when the Genius at the GB first popped open the hood on the G5, they said they'd replace the innards at no charge to me. Even after being out of warranty. 2005 is a long time ago in computer years. My G5 was back and good as new in a few days. Or so I thought.
Lily informed me that last week the computer was starting to crash regularly and the fans on the G5 were on full blast before it would crash. It sounded strangely like the problem that was fixed months ago. And upon further review, fixed just out of the 90-day guarantee on those repairs. Blast. The thing I dreaded the most was lugging around the heavy and rather unwieldy CPU to the GB.
The only appointment I could get for the next day was at The Apple Store in Manhattan Beach (instead of my usual closest Santa Monica location), but I like Manhattan Beach so I clicked "Yes I'd like to wait around in the Apple Store for an hour at least so I can get some service on my broken Apple computer". To make things more convenient, the only time available was 10:30 am. That gave me just enough time to go in to work for about 45 minutes before I'd have to leave again to get on the 405.
The next morning I unplugged all the wires from the G5, hoisted it out of its resting spot and into my much more reliable car. On the drive to school, Judah ceaselessly asked questions about why the computer was in the car. Google Maps told me it would take around 20 minutes to get to Manhattan Beach. Figure in the suggested arrival time (10 minutes early for the appointment), and I was out the door of the edit suite at 10 am sharp. Because I'd had several cups of coffee, like I always do, I thought it would probably be a good idea to take a leak before heading out on my journey. But the bathroom at work was occupied, and I wasn't about to mess with the schedule-making gods at The Apple Store.
I arrived at the Manhattan Beach Village/Mall thing with a couple minutes to spare. As I lugged the CPU out of the car, I spotted three mentally-challenged men moseying toward the same mall door as I was. I turned on the jets as best I could to pass them, and I reached the door just ahead of them in time to press the wheelchair door button with my foot. One of them appeared to be amazed with my superpowers, and he smiled and elbowed one of his cohorts.
Some sort of field trip at The Apple Store was going on. One where the teenage students all had to wear yellow t-shirts while they watched somebody in a bright orange t-shirt setting type in iWeb. I was wearing a bright orange t-shirt that day. I hadn't been briefed on the color-coordination scheme, and I just hoped nobody in a yellow t-shirt would start asking me questions. Maybe the scowl on my face would do the trick. Another person in an orange t-shirt welcomed me to the GB waiting line and asked my name, if I had an appointment, my most hated thing about PCs and people who buy them, and multiple choice questions on why I thought Bill Gates is the antichrist.
As I waited in line, I looked up on the screens above the GB for my place in the queue. My name appeared second. Oh goodie. I wouldn't be waiting long this time. 20 minutes later I found myself on the verge of joining in on the rant of a guy whose iPhone wasn't turning on, and who didn't want to wait in line four hours for non-appointment customers. I briefly considered bolting to the nearest restroom. Finally Michael called my name.
I told him this has happened before, blah blah blah, and he did the required turning on of the computer, checking the crash report, and checking the repair history. Apparently he'd heard the online grumblings about the G5 coolant thingy too, because he was very apologetic and not all high-and-mighty as some Geniuses can be. He told me straight out that there'd be no charge for the repair, and he started filling out paperwork. Nature was calling rather loudly by this point. I asked Michael where the nearest bathroom was. He told me it was between Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel, wherever that was. I told him I'd be right back, but he said he was finished with the paperwork.
He handed me a sheet of paper to sign. I did the "gotta pee now" dance while he explained the terms of the agreement, like how my computer could be erased, I shoulda backed up, yada yada gotta go pee now dude SHUT THE HELL UP! I said thanks for the help and I practically sprinted out the door with my head on a swivel looking for Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel and the space between them that held the key to an empty bladder. It was on my right, just past the group of women and their toddler kids who were about to be run over by a man ready to use the temporary insanity plea. I wove my way past them, hating all people who were stupid enough to have kids. The hallway did that Vertigo effect thing, but the men's restroom was in sight. I speed walked down to the end, briefly detoured by the hugest security guard I've ever seen. He took up at least 85% of the hallway.
I busted open the restroom door, greeted by a small room with four stalls: One was out of order with plastic draped over the urinal, the other three were in use by the three mentally-challenged men I went past on my way into the mall. Another man was already waiting, obviously in about the same pee-state I was, because he hopped around for a moment muttering something incoherent before bolting out the door. Not a good sign.
At least that meant my turn was next. And that turn was not coming quickly enough. One of the stalls kept flushing, and the sound of rushing water only made it that much worse. I tapdanced around and seriously considered using the sink as a urinal. Finally one of the guys started backing away from the urinal, and I was in there faster than he was probably comfortable with. I didn't care. I didn't have a care in the world.