A million years ago, at a party in Georgetown. (Not "a Georgetown party" -- just a party at a house in Georgetown.) The normal assortment of lawyers and softball players and random others, making chit-chat. I fall into conversation with some guy who's hot to tell me about this...thing. This new thing that's coming.
It's a "home computer," he tells me -- it'll help you do amazing stuff. And then he tells me some of the amazing stuff it'll help me do. He's very excited about it.
"That's fascinating!" I might have said. "Tell me more!"
"That's nice," I actually said -- and went looking for the onion dip.
Moral of the Story: Some people get it. Some of us don't.
* * *
I was never part of the cult of Steve Jobs. I was never part of the cult of Apple. "I'm a words guy, not a picture guy," I'd explain to the curious, and the pitying. "If you work with words, you use a PC."
Apple might have been amazing, but Apple was for artists. For people in graphics. (For people in sandals.) That was simply the way the world was divided. If I ever started drawing for a living, I might consider a Mac.
I was never going to start drawing for a living.
And who needs a computer to look at pictures? Or to send pictures? Or to listen to music? Or to share music? Pointless. Totally pointless. I'd just stick with my trusty -- OK, not so trusty -- old PC.
This was before my nephew let me hold his iPod. Just slipped it into the palm of my hand.
* * *
My friend Frank is steaming. He's just come back from a trip to the computer department of the Big Box store, and he's ready to throw a chair through a window. He's ready to put a fist through a wall.
My friend Frank had a problem with his computer. And an even bigger problem explaining the problem to the someone who waited on him in the computer department of the Big Box store. And an even bigger problem understanding a single thing the someone who waited on him in the computer department of the Big Box store said back to him.
This someone spoke fluent geek, at warp speed. This someone assumed -- against all evidence -- that my friend Frank was also fluent in geek. And when geek didn't work? This someone said it again -- still in geek, still at warp speed. And then a third time.
And I find myself singing the praises of the Apple Store.
* * *
At the Apple Store -- this is what I tell my friend Frank -- the person who greets you, the person who handles your questions, somehow manages to be someone who speaks English, not geek. Better than that: This person is strangely compatible with you!
If you're a middle-aged guy, you've more than likely got another middle-aged guy showing you the ropes -- someone who speaks your language, who won't roll his eyes at your utter ignorance. If you're a young woman, your techie is more than likely another young woman -- someone who speaks your language, who won't assume you know it all, but won't condescend. Nerds get nerd-speak, and newbies get their hands held.
I've seen it happen virtually every time I've been there -- do I think it's all just coincidence? A sales-and-service strategy that's the closest thing to computer dating since...computer dating?
Or do I think I see the fine hand -- the make-it-simple, make-it-fun, make-it-gorgeous, make-sure-you've-sweated-even-the-smallest-details hand -- of a certain extraordinary CEO? "Next time," I tell my friend Frank. "Next time, I take you to the Apple Store."
* * *
I was never part of the cult of Steve Jobs. I was never part of the cult of Apple.
I'm writing these words on a MacBook.
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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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