Neman: In a twist, Apple bites me | Business columnists

Our computer had crashed. It was no more. He had ceased to be. It had expired and gone to meet its creator, who I’m sure was Steve Jobs. He was an ex-computer.

It had served us well for 11 years, which essentially made it the computer equivalent of Methuselah. But now was the time to get a new one, and that meant going to an Apple store.

Apple stores make me nervous. They remind me of that ad the company ran in 1984 announcing the introduction of the Macintosh: It compared IBM and Microsoft computers to a dystopian corporation run by Big Brother.

Times are changing, and now I get that same conformist cult vibe from the Apple Store itself. Resistance, employees and customers seem to say, is futile.

But none of that matters when you need a new computer and you love Apple. After all, they last 11 years.

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So I went to my nearest Apple store and then quickly left. The place was packed and Covid was on the rise again and in my imagination at least the employees were all wearing those cult black Heaven’s Gate tennis shoes. I decided to wait for my wife, who was shopping at another store.

She arrived, alas, and we returned. We were immediately greeted by one of the eager, bright-eyed salespeople, who asked if he could help us.

“We are looking for a new desktop computer,” we said.

He looked confused. “You mean a laptop? ” He asked.

We assured him that we wanted a desktop computer to place on top of our desk. To his credit, he quickly recovered and led us to the table selling desktop computers.

Who had no one there. The store, as I said, was packed. It was like steerage on an ocean liner in the 1910s. It was like the A train in Manhattan at 8:30 a.m.

But the desktop computer table was oddly empty. Cobwebs have grown on the computers. A few tiny tumbleweeds rolled across the table and slammed onto the floor. A lone train whistle blew sadly in the distance. It wasn’t hard to see why the salesman had been confused.

We asked for an entry-level computer. Our computing needs are modest. We don’t play computer games, we don’t edit videos, we don’t stream movies. Basically we need a computer because typewriter ribbons are hard to find.

The salesman showed us the most basic computer, and naturally I looked up the price. There was no price. There is no price anywhere in the store. Prices are for suction cups. Prices are for the less cool. True believers don’t need awards.

The salesman looked at his portable device and told us how much the desktop computer costs. I’ll take his word for it. There’s no way for me to know. He could have made up any old prize to see how we reacted to it.

We decided to buy the computer, but first there was a question: what color do we want?

At some point in the past 11 years, Apple decided to give the back of its desktop computers a bold color. The back of our desk faces a wall and no one will ever see its color, but a blurry version of the tint also vaguely extends to a thin strip below the screen.

It doesn’t matter what color this computer band is. We were standing next to a silver computer, so we said we wanted it silver.

“We have no more money.”

OK, we said, how about red?

“We’re out of red.”

They were also in green, orange, yellow, purple and blue. They were every color they make. It wasn’t until later that my wife pointed out that they apparently didn’t sell a lot of desktops, but they were all sold out.

We could have one delivered, the salesman said kindly. We could have it shipped to our house, where it would make an early Christmas present for our porch pirates, or we could pick it up at the store. If we had sent it to the store, by the way, we still had to pay the shipping costs. The more I think about it, the less it makes sense.

We decided to have it shipped to the store – but there’s one final problem: delivery takes a month, which put it in the middle of our two-week vacation.

“We will be on vacation,” we said. “Do you want to hold it?”

He said they would keep him for a week.

“But it’s a two-week vacation.”

He said the delivery cannot be postponed and the time they are holding it cannot be extended. In other words, they don’t have it in stock and we can’t have it delivered to us.

We decided to order the computer we want, in the color that frankly matters to us, while we are on vacation, to be delivered after our return.

We could have done it without going to the store.

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