Dan Rattiner's Stories

Fix My Apple? Enjoying the Secret Cult at the Apple Guru Store

Last month, I took the Metro North train to Hyde Park to do research at the FDR Library there for my upcoming book The Night the Nazis Landed. (The book is being represented by the Marianne Strong Agency and has been optioned for a movie by Emmy winner Cayman Grant of Steel Titan Productions. It’s about events that happened in Amagansett in 1942.)

While up there, my iPhone seemed to be dying. I had to constantly charge it. Something was wrong.

Coming back to New York and getting off the train at Grand Central Station, it occurred to me to go to the Apple Store there on the balcony. I didn’t have an appointment. But I did have two hours before the Jitney back to East Hampton. So I climbed the stairs.

There were throngs of people on the balcony chattering noisily, many of them trying out the Apple products on tables there. As I got to the top of the stairs, a young man in a blue shirt with a white Apple logo on it made eye contact and smiled at me.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“My iPhone needs charging all the time. Maybe the battery is having problems.”

“I’ll have someone help you,” he said. He looked at an iPad he was holding, then looked back up at me.

“See that young man in the blue shirt by that door? He can help you.”

I walked through the crowds to the door.

“Hi,” the man said when I got there. “What can I do for you?”

“My iPhone needs charging all the time. Maybe the battery is having problems.”

“We can check it out,” the young man said. He motioned for me to look into the room. “See that guy across the room with the red hair and the pony tail?”

“Yes.”

“He can help you.”

So I walked over to the red headed guy wearing a blue shirt and also carrying an iPad.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“My iPhone needs charging all the time. Maybe the battery is having problems.”

He looked at the iPad he was holding, then pointed across the room.

“See that young woman with the blue shirt and the bangs?” he asked. She was standing across this busy room by the door of still another room. “She can help you.”

I walked to her. “Having a problem?” she asked cheerily.

“My iPhone needs charging all the time. Maybe the battery is having problems.”

She asked my name and I spelled it out for her. She poked it into her iPad. Then she pointed into the room she was standing next to. “See that man with the goatee carrying the iPad with the red case?”

There were more crowds of people in there, but I saw him.

“Yes,” I said.

“He can set you up with somebody,” the woman said.

A heavyset man was talking to the man with the goatee so I waited a bit, but not too long. He smiled at me when it was my turn.

“My iPhone needs charging all the time. Maybe the battery is having problems.”

“Sure,” he said. “We’ll have a look.” He tapped on the red iPad he was holding. “You Dan?”

“Yes.”

“Take that seat over there.”

Where he pointed was to a table with six high stools around it. Five were occupied. Three people with blue shirts were hovering over them. Everybody was chattering away. I went over and sat.

Ten minutes went by and nobody came for me. So I went back to the man with the goatee. He remembered me, gave me a reassuring look, then looked at his red iPad.

“There’s only five more in front of you,” he said.

“Is that a lot?” I asked.

“Wait another 10 minutes,” he said.

Eleven minutes later, a young man with shaggy blond, an iPad and a blue shirt came over and looked at me.

“Dan?”

“That’s me.”

“How can I help you?” he asked.

“My iPhone needs charging all the time. Maybe the battery is having problems.”

I held it out to him and he took it.

“Hmmm,” he said, after poking it awhile. He took out a small testing device from his pocket.

“Hmmm,” he said again after setting it down next to my phone. “Your battery is fine. But there’s a heavy draw on it. One of your apps must be pulling a lot of charge all the time. Hmmm.”

He turned. “Hey, Hal? Could you look at this?” he asked a guy walking by. Hal, a blue-shirted young man with wild black hair looked at it. He pressed a few more buttons.

“Here’s the problem,” he said to the two of us. “See this list? It shows the percentage of current being pulled by each app, most first.”

There was Google, there was Gmail, there was Maps. At the top, drawing 32%, was something called Steps.

“A ha,” Hal said.

“I only used that once,” I said. “It counts the steps I take. Don’t really need it.”

“Well, I can have it pull only when you open it,” Hal said.

“Just delete it,” I said. “I don’t really use it.”

“Okay. But you do it.”

He pressed more buttons and now there was Steps, wiggling with an X on it. I poked it. It vanished.

“Squish,” I said.

Hal smiled. We were buddies now. “Anything else?” he asked. At this point, somebody called the man with the shaggy blond hair and he went away.

“Well, now that you ask, yes,” I said to Hal. I took out my old battered MacBook and opened it. “Look at this. See? When you tap on this, it’s supposed to give you a dropdown menu. But it doesn’t.”

“Hmmm,” Hal said. He tapped. It wouldn’t do it for him either.

A blonde woman with a blue shirt was coming by. He called to her. “Helene? Could you look at this?”

She came over, and Hal told her what was wrong. She tapped on it without success and then made more taps.

“I think it’s a setting,” Helene said.

“Me too,” said Hal. “Should we take it in the back?”

She nodded at another doorway.

“I have to catch a Jitney,” I said.

“How long have you got?”

“Maybe an hour.”

“I’ll get somebody,” Helene said, and walked off to where the “back” was.

We waited another few minutes, me and Hal, without knowing quite what to talk about. But then a man with a white beard and a beret came out from the “back.”

“What have we here?” he asked.

I told him.

“Let me take it back,” he said.

I struggled to keep it.

“It will just be a minute.” And off he went into the back with my Mac.

I turned to Hal. “Is he a genius?” I asked.

“Yes,” Hal said.

I watched as the genius walked my laptop into the back, then took it into a still further back room. How long would this be? Two minutes went by, and now the genius came out from the further back room without my laptop. But leaning out from the further back room carrying my laptop was a tall man in a long flowing white robe and a long white beard that came down halfway to the floor. He handed it back to the genius, patted him on the shoulder and then was gone, retreating back into the further back room. The genius then walked out, smiled and handed my laptop to me.

“Fixed,” he said.

I just made it to the Jitney. They are always right on time.

I only saw him briefly, but I think the guy in the robe had a halo.

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