Apple, MAC or Anything “i” And Why It Can Be Your Worst Nightmare

As in my post below, I finally steeled myself and bought a MAC laptop.  Against every fibre of my being and, everything that goes against my grain, I finally got talked into buying a MAC computer after the breakdown of my beloved HP laptop which had served me well for over 7 years.  I had been assured that I was making the right decision as Apple (the company that produces MAC computers…just in case you’ve been in a coma or a cave for the past decade or more), was a highly reputable company.  How wrong that was in my case.

The first 10 days that I had my brand new MAC laptop, I had gotten sick and couldn’t spend any time on it.  That meant that 10 of the 14 days that the store would take it back, was already gone and I had 4 days to learn MAC and its operations as well as evaluate the computer itself.  With so many rave reviews by both Apple enthusiasts and sales people’s assurances, I should have no problems, no issues, no viruses, no way to not love this computer in spite of its undoubtedly hefty price tag (which was much more than I had expected or wanted to pay for a computer that would likely only last me 3 or 4 years maximum.)

Sending Error Reports In The First Week

Within the first week I was using it, a program would suddenly “need to close” and I’d have to send out an error report.  Do we really know where the hell these things actually go or whether anyone really ever sees them?  Like good little girls and boys, we send them out into cyber space, hoping that someone, somewhere, somehow, pays attention to them.  I’ve often wondered if these error reports are just something that they have us do so that in the midst of cursing and swearing at the sudden shut-down and loss of any information that we’d written or found, we’d have something that might make us feel that we’ve done something about it and someone will fix that problem so that it doesn’t happen again.

Apple Tech Support For Days

By the second day of more usage, I was soon tired of sending off error reports and gave up sending them, resorting to cursing and swearing and having to take deep breaths.  That was it.  I needed Apple’s Tech Support Line.

All of the Apple Tech Support Technicians were highly friendly.  It was as though they knew that you’d over spent your budget and were soaked by the pricing so, yes…of course…they’re going to be nice.  They also all spoke of the computer as though it were a pet, a child, a human being and anthropomorphized the machine in front of you to the point where you felt as though you should give it a personal name and feed it.  I had no issue with them.  They were highly eager to help me with my problem and did so in a fun-loving, personable way, making the long tech support sessions feel almost a bit fun at first.

Three calls and 6 hours later, including a remote session where a technician was actually remotely inside my brand new baby, looking at its inner software workings, I was still no further ahead as the thing kept crashing both programs and itself into a downed state.  This is where I began to lose my temper but, tried to recognize that they didn’t produce the machine nor charge me the money and were only doing their jobs.  They were far more patient than I was.

By the 4th call to Apple, I was fuming and ready to throw the computer through the window in spite of being escalated to Senior Advisors with Apple’s Tech Support System.  Of course, they understood my upset and frustration and that I wasn’t taking it out on them but, even when confronted with the question of whether they would be happy with how much they’d paid to get a lemon, all that they could do was read off of some company policy card that read, “you’re screwed” (in different wording than that of course).

“You’re screwed!”

The final Senior Advisor relented that the problem wasn’t a software issue but, a hardware issue from the factory and I’d need to send it in to be serviced.  SERVICED?  I needed a brand new computer “serviced”? That wasn’t the worst part though.  I now had a brand new piece of JUNK that I’d paid a small fortune for and would be without a computer for at least 10 days.  More than that, worse became worst when I was told that even to get it seen at an Apple Store, I’d have to make an appointment, leave it for the 10 days and the earliest appointment that they could get me was 2 weeks away!

I’m sure you can hear the mutterings in my mind that weren’t exactly pretty at this point.  I’m equally certain that each Apple Technician must have to go through a “how to keep your cool while the customer implodes” course before they’re put onto the phones as it didn’t seem to phase them one bit that I was explaining how I used my computers for work and 2 to 3 weeks more after paying the price for a brand new computer to wait to have what I considered a “refurbished” model (in the light form of the definition) was not exactly music to my ears.  And, yes..this was all still under warranty.

I wasn’t accepting this answer and he knew it as I explained it (without hesitation in how I said it).  He didn’t even try to make a return call the following day to see what I had decided to do,..send it in or wait for the 2 weeks and take it into a repair centre.  Either way, it would be the same time frame and wait.  Neither desirable nor, acceptable given that I had already spent over 7 hours of tech support in 2 days already and had a mound of work to get caught up on with NO computer now.

Thankfully, the shop that I bought it from had been one that I had spent several thousand dollars in over the past couple of years with 2 computers, 4 printers, all the ink cartridges (another fortune) and office supplies.  That gave me a bit of leverage and I had to rely upon that to talk my way into accepting the now, 4 days past their 14 day return policy.  I sweet talked the manager into hearing me out and he did.  The only caveat was that I had to pay an extra $149.00 + tax to get them to set it up and put on an un-needed anti-virus program to get them to give me a brand new computer.  They did.

The SHOP to the rescue…NOT APPLE!

I am now writing this on this brand new MAC computer, having been set up by their tech support team which gives me a 30 day store guarantee that should anything go wrong in the next 30 days with this thing, they have incurred the responsibility of having to either repair it or, handing me yet another computer of my choice.

If something goes wrong with this one (knock on wood not), I will NOT be going with another MAC computer and will go back to swearing off of anything Apple completely as I had done for years.

To those of you who have nothing but good experiences with Apple products, my hat is off to you.  Perhaps, I am just laden with rotten luck but, I seemed to have gotten the alleged “one lemon” of a Mac computer ever made, according to the store and Apple itself.  I’m sure though that I’m not.  I’m sure that there’s many more unsatisfied customers out there and I’d love to hear your stories.

In the meanwhile, my fingers are crossed that I’ve suffered The Apple Curse long enough and it’s been broken.  My hope is to finally love this machine, given what I’ve been through for it as well as the cost of it.  If not…my front door will have a laptop come hurtling through it onto the street where I will watch with delight as the next vehicle to come up the street will crush it into a few thousand tiny pieces.  That sounds nasty, does it?  But, it’s where Apple tends to leave its customers believe it or not.

We live and we learn but from my little corner of life, Apple is not the god it wants us to believe.

Computer Shopping Can Be A Nightmare

I’ve been in what can only be considered by anyone who relies upon their computers as “Computer Hell” for the past month when my trusty HP laptop finally gave out its last legs and died on me.  I felt as though I was going through a mourning period but, had to replace it.  The question was, where to start?

If you talk to any nerd, geek or I.T. person, you’ll quickly be told that the days of anything computerized, electronic or otherwise, is now being built to last a couple of years at best.  It leaves one wondering how much they should spend on a computer given that it might only last 2 to 3 years if that long but, still meet your needs.

With that in mind, I contemplated getting the lowest priced computer available and consider its cost spread out over 2 or 3 years.  What could I live with, not only within my own mind, but also my wallet and budget?  I had a figure in mind and set out to grab anything that was on sale, seemed like a good brand name and would get me through a couple of more computing years.

That’s not, of course, how this quest turned out.

Think “being talked up”.  Not only was I talked to by sales people until I couldn’t think straight anymore but, they talked me “up” from one model, one brand to the next, assuring me that I’d be unhappy with anything less.  If that wasn’t enough, they spent an equal amount of time, trying to sell me software, extended store warranties that you know your computer will either not need because it will crash in the first few months while it is still under manufacturer’s warranty or, your computer will outlive the warranty and die 2 days after the warranty expires.

If you’ve done any computer shopping at all recently, you know that there’s the window’s based computers, tablets and off in a section of their own, the Apple computers.  Simply the name, “Apple” has you cringing and gritting your teeth because if you know anything about computers at all, you know that anything “i” or “Apple” screams out, “BIG BUCKS HERE!”  I truly believe that they should have neon signs with that logo lighting up the aisles for all Apple/Mac computers as I tried to avoid it like the Black Plague.

“I love my Mac”, many friends have said.  “I couldn’t be without it and I’ll never go back to Windows based anything!”

This seems to be a case of “once you’ve had a Mac, you’ll never go back” for these Apple loving friends.

In spite of my best efforts to avoid a Mac, I was led to them by every sales person I encountered in all of the stores I went into.

“They’re more money but, they last longer, come with software for basic tasks and…they never get viruses so, you’ll save on antivirus software. ”

I fell.  I fell hard for the Macs and purchased one after reasoning out that even were I to buy the software for a Windows’ version computer, by the time I required a new computer in 2 to 3 years (if I was that lucky), I would also need to upgrade the software so, the Macs made sense in my already muddled mind.

What ensued was a total nightmare as my brand new Mac began stopping programs, crashing and screwing up just after the 14 day refund/exchange policy with the store ran out.  Onto Apple’s Tech Support.  There had to be some simple explanation and fix.  After all, Macs are made out to be infallible by everyone who’s ever had one and every sales person in every computer store or electronic department.

Not so quick.  Apple is NOT what it makes itself out to be.  There’s an entire saga that goes with this story, best left to a separate piece but, suffice it to say that if you’re going to spend the money on a Mac, Apple or “i” anything….know that they are not the pure and honourable company they make themselves out to be or have sales persons try to convince you that they are.

Forewarned is forearmed…or…at least, that’s the way I see things from my little corner of life…wait for an explanation in my next entry.

Never Doubt That You Do Make A Difference In Other People’s Lives

A friend of mine passed away on Monday of this week.  He wasn’t really a peer but, rather 94 years old, my first chiropractor and a neighbour on my street.  Yet, despite the nearly 40 years in age differences, he and I had become friends and I mourned his passing though he had long since moved into assisted living with his partner of about 15 years or so.

I hadn’t seen him much since he had moved away as his life with his new companion had taken up most of his time and, my life had also changed quite a bit with a father-in-law, younger than him, who required almost full time care until more recently when, he too, passed away and his estate required settling.  There was much going on for both of us to keep up with.

This man had become a pseudo father and even a grandfather figure to me in spite of him having 9 children of his own.  He had called me his “10th child” as a place of honour in his heart and though I had that title, I also held the much heralded title of “friend” to him as well.

When his first wife passed away as he turned 80 years old, he was still doing chiropractic sessions for close relatives and friends, such as myself.  He no longer charged for his services.  Payment came in the form of your company with him and a tea while he talked about his days in the war, his family that he missed, his departed wife, his children and grandchildren.  It was fascinating for me to hear his stories, though often repeated, not out of forgetfulness but more out of intrigue for detail that he’d left out and later added to the retold versions.  Nothing was ever boring to listen to with him…at least, not for me.

There were days when I was busy with my own life, working from home with a self-created business, taking care of a household and being a mom.  Yet, the moment he picked up the phone, calling me to come “sit with him” as he “needed to talk”, I’d unhesitatingly leave what I was doing and go to sit with him.  In my mind, there should be no such thing as “too busy” when someone is lonely and in emotional pain.  Nothing is that important, unless of course, one has someone else more in need.

There came times when he became so depressed that despite his many children and grandchildren, he felt alone.  Perhaps, there’s something less inhibiting about talking to “a friend” than family members but, he shared his thoughts with me as well as his heartaches more freely than he seemed to do with others and, I felt honoured to be that sounding board for him.

I came to love this man as though he were my father or grandfather and felt that though I didn’t truly know his children in actuality, I knew them through him and his accounts of his life.  While I didn’t have 9 other brothers and sisters, I felt as much one of his children as I could possibly feel given that I wasn’t born into the family.  He made me feel that way.

I tried my best to keep his spirits up by simply being there, listening and talking.  In return, I felt that I had also been given the gift of his friendship.  As much as I gave, I received from him in return in a different way.  I learned that giving of yourself and your time is not a waste of time.

“I’m sure you have better things to do than listen to an old man’s stories,” he’d say with assurance that he recognized that most younger people didn’t have time for stories from an older person of days gone by “but, damn it, I am lonely and I need a friend.”

He confided in me and I tried my best to respond in the best way that I could and, he’d often tell me that it was me who “saved his life” by being there as his friend.

At 81 years of age, he met his companion and sold the house that he’d built for his family to one of his children and moved into her condo to be with her, a woman a year older than him.  Still, he’d drive over to my home at least once a week, plunking himself down on my couch, talking away whenever he needed my ear and “his friend” as he’d say.

At 92 years of age, he and his companion decided to move into an assisted living facility where their meals and other chores were taken care of.  He didn’t like it much but, felt that with his declining abilities to care for these types of things for both of them, it was the best choice.

We lost contact for several months as he’d forgotten to give me his new phone number but, I got a call from him, angry at me for “not phoning him,” as that’s “not what friends do to each other.”  I had to remind him that he hadn’t given me his new number.  He calmed down and laughed.

Just before Christmas of 2014, he had turned 94 years old and I called him to wish him both a happy birthday and a merry christmas.  His building had been locked down with a flu outbreak as a lot of elder care facilities have happen each year.  For 3 weeks, he was miserably ill and totally unhappy that he couldn’t do as he pleased.  I promised to visit him in the new year.

I never got that chance to see him one last time.  I got sick myself and knew I wouldn’t be allowed in as it wasn’t good for anyone in the building.  I was waiting to get well again to go see him when an accidental meeting of a mutual friend to one of his daughters, alerted me to the news that he had passed away a few days before-hand this past week.  It was purely by accident that I bumped into this mutual friend and I felt my knees buckle beneath me as I heard the sad news.  I blamed myself for not having called him during the nearly 3 weeks that I had been sick.  Yet, I came out, knowing that the bump-in that I’d just had with that mutual family friend, hadn’t been just a coincidence.  We never had seen one another prior to this and, I rarely entered the store that we were in nor, did she.  Something bigger than coincidence was at play and, I knew somehow that he was orchestrating it all no matter how corny that all may have sounded to anyone listening to me say it.

I attended his funeral yesterday and though most people were dry eyed as he was, after all, 94 years old and couldn’t live forever, I wasn’t one of them.  Even his children took it better than I did and I met every last one of them, finally.

The entire time that I was there, I kept feeling guilty for not having been able to see him or called him more than I had called him in his remaining time on this planet.  I wondered if I had been a “bad friend” or, whether I had made more out of our friendship than it really was.  It was hard for me to be there and I stood by his casket, trying not to cry, apologizing to him quietly on my own and patting his arm, placing a kiss on his cold cheek one last time, tears wanting to tumble down my cheeks in spite of the many who had not shed a tear and went on chattering about other things around me.  I was thankful to go unnoticed at that time or, at least, I thought I was unseen.

As I was about to leave, feeling that I had done what I came to do, one of his children grabbed me by the arm, then another and another.

“You were Dad’s one true friend,” one said to me, giving me a hug that broke me down into tears.  “Dad told us all that you were his real and only friend.”

Another, spun me around to face her at this point.

“Dad told me about how you saved his life and made him love himself and want to go on again,” she said, taking my hand in hers.  “He told us all about how you were the one who got him through the hardest time in his life, were there for him during it all and how much he loved you.”

“I can’t thank you enough for what you did for our dad,” said another, rubbing my shoulder  as they surrounded me.  “He treasured your friendship and all that we heard was how much of a friend…his ONLY friend…you were to him.”

I was so deeply touched by their words that I couldn’t hold back the tears.  It was them, consoling me that had me so touched when it should have been the other way around.

“We are so grateful that you were in our dad’s life,” said another.  “We can’t thank you enough.  It’s like he became a new man because of you and went on to live until now.”

Another apologized for not having thought to have let me know that he had passed away.

“How could I have forgotten you when you were such a big part of Dad’s life?” she said, shaking her head at herself.  “I’m glad that you found out through my friend.  And by the way, that was not accidental or a coincidence that you bumped into her that day.  I’m sure Dad made sure that you knew because I’m a bone-head.”

“I lost my own father in 1999,” I said, dabbing my cheeks with tissues I got handed by one of the daughters.  “I want to thank all of you for sharing your dad with me.”

I left the funeral in tears.  They weren’t tears of grief as I knew that he had to leave at some point and had been ailing for a number of years.  They were tears because I really never knew how much I had meant to this man all of those years.  HIs children let me know that it was more than I could have imagined.  I had mattered.  I had made a difference in his life, just as he had made a difference in mine.  His words in telling me that much, weren’t platitudes.  He had sincerely meant them and his children, though not having to do it, validated that for me and likely, moreso for him as he could no longer speak for himself.

We may not feel as though we make a difference in people’s lives.  It may even be unspoken but, we do play a part in other’s lives no matter how small or how big.  Never doubt that about the time and care that you give to other people.

Be yourself and care about other people.  Give your time to those in need, no matter how small it may seem to you, it may mean the world to someone else.  Don’t ever think that just by talking to someone, you aren’t making a difference.  Simply being there can make a world of difference for them and you.

Today, while I’m missing my friend and still tearing up over the simplicity and beauty of caring for others..that’s how I’m seeing things from my little corner of life.