Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Most people dream about the place. It is clean, well-appointed, airy, and razor sharp on the cutting edge of style. The Apple Store in the tony La Encantada Shopping Mall is a magnet for the hippest of hipsters. They wear their tight, straight-legged jeans, trim their beards just right, have whitened teeth, and look like they walked out of a Calvin Klein ad in the New Yorker.
The place makes me cringe.
The technology is the newest, fastest, highest resolution, statement-makin' technology out there. This is the stuff that users customize to express their personalities,their visions of life and liberty, their uniqueness, individuality. They get special colored cases, attach expressive stickers, make them as personal as a broken-in pair of boots or frayed cowboy shirt.
I walked into the Apple Store, the swankiest of swank at the most elite mall in Tucson, wearing my sweat-stained, sun-rotted, grime-encrusted, foam contaminated Cabela's cap. That, I infer, was a bit too much expression, a kind of garment over-share that was not received all that well. The salespeople scattered with looks of "I'm not dealing with that guy. You take him."
I took it upon myself to approach the hippest of them to inquire about replacing my dying MacBook Pro. He gave in, reluctantly, with a sigh, that said, "O Kaaaay..."
He pointed to the MacBook display table with a sigh as he saw a trim female hipster sashay in with messenger bag, I-Pod, I-Pad, and I-Phone. She was stunning in her cobalt blue, mirrored aviators. His look said "Why not me?"
He didn't roll his eyes when he turned back to me, but had to fight the impulse. He glanced down at my frayed Carhartt shorts. I hope he didn't notice the hole in the seat that likely revealed more of my briefs than was tolerable.
"Which one is the cheapest?" I asked. Might as well put my cards on the table, as if they weren't there already.
Again, the sigh.
"The base model is only $999," he said, looking past me, nodding to someone in the back.
He went on to identify the speed of the processors, the memory of the hard drive, the resolution of the screen, and other details.
"It's pretty basic," he said. "If you want to do video editing or digital mesmerizing of multi-modal docu-synthesis (or something like that), it might be slow."
He might as well have been speaking Russian. He didn't know he was speaking to an uninitiated, ingenue primitive straight from hinterlands of face-to-face networking. I was the hick in from the farm looking in awe at the bright lights of Broadway.
I was also having trouble breathing. I felt like the world had taken off without me and that I was stranded on some desert island with stone tools and no way to make a fire. I wanted to grunt.
"Most people don't use laptops anymore," he said. "You could do just about everything with an I-phone."
Yes, cyber life on a phone, I thought. No need for a camera, computer, day-planner, or separate device to make phone calls. Just get up to speed, I thought. Ugh.
"Do you guys ever have sales?" I asked.
That did it. I could see him push the button under the table to signal the muscle. Get this guy out here. The bum's rush is too good for him. He's a throw-back, an neanderthal, a relic, an obsolete piece of rusted junk.
All of my anxieties about getting with-it, on-line, developing cyber literacy, just surviving this brave new world came to a head. I couldn't think or speak for the paralysis. Aye.
Without ceremony or explanation, I mumbled a thank you, turned and walked out. The big glass door swung open easily onto a November afternoon full of fall chill and changing colors in the trees. The breeze felt good. The demons, though, were still there in my wake. They wore T-shirts identifying them: Fear, Inadequacy, Resistance, Anger. I had first met them long ago, in other situations that I could not understand, that resulted in my feeling like an outsider. I would have to come to terms with them.
I would have to go back sometime. The techno-world has not gone away. I have to deal with it. I would learn the vibe, take a few trips into Cyberlandia, check it out, see if I could learn some of the lingo, go through my baptism by fire.
What the hell? It's just a new, strange, foreign, and scary territory. As long as I have a brain cell or two, I should be able to figure something out.
For now, the sun and wind will have to do.