You should be more careful!

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I upgraded my iPhone from the 4 to the 5 and find it quite a nice device. I have much of my library on the phone so I can stream music via bluetooth whenever I want and the camera on the device is really extraordinary. I am happy with it as a pocket device. That is until it stopped charging at night. These mobile devices tend to get very cranky when their batteries are low or drained and for some reason the little Lightning connector Apple instituted on these phones was getting flaky, Before long my phone was dead. Bricked. Sigh.

I bought the phone through Verizon so I figured I'd head back to get it fixed or replaced. It was quite dead. Have you been to a phone store lately? You know, the stores where's there's two or three quasi competent sales people waiting on ten or twenty customers? The ones where there's amaitre d' at the entrance with a list of people ahead of you? Such was the case at the Boulder Verizon store and I added my name to the list. It was 2pm on Wednesday and Terri and I had tickets to the planetarium that evening so I should be able to get through the store in time.

"How long's the wait?"

"We're running between 45 minutes and an hour." Themaitre d' was a young girl that couldn't have been older than 20, chewing gum like it was her last piece and doing everything she could to not blow a bubble in my face. "What can we do for you?"

"My phone is dead, won't take a charge anymore."

"Oh, it's an iPhone 5? Yes, we see the charging problem a lot, I am sure we can get you a new phone. Why don't you connect up to this charger and plug it in while you wait. Just to make sure it's not your charger." She pointed to one of the display tables and we disconnected a tablet and connected my phone instead. Still dead, no sign of life whatsoever. Time, 2:30 in the afternoon, I should be seen by 3:30.

These phone stores don't make it comfortable for you to wait. Instead, you have little choice but to browse around through the various phones and tablets on display while you try not to bump into the other people waiting. You can't leave because if they call your name and you're not there you go to the back of the queue. I am there long enough that I start to get familiar with the people waiting, watching what they do to try and look nonchalant. There's the really old lady and her teenage grandson: she's sweet and clueless, he's clueless and full of pimples. She can't figure out how to store a phone number. I could help with that but I keep my mouth shut and wait, surprised her nephew of 16 can't figure it out. Then there's the big fat guy with size 14 shoes, untied. He's eying the one occupied seat currently held hostage by a young lady babbling on her cell phone. He lies in wait looking like he doesn't care but I'd hate to get between him and that seat should it open up.

The gum chomping maitre d' is now telling new customers it's running closer to 90 minutes. Not one person has left the buildingsince I arrived and it's now 3:45. The manager of the store is a big fellow. He's the only one dressed in slacks and shiny shoes. For the past hour he's been walking around the store yacking on his cell phone and yucking it up with either a friend or a girl friend. "Ahh, that's really sweet" says the manager into the phone. Yup, definitely speaking to a girl. He is oblivious to the 10 people waiting to speak with someone. If he worked for me he'd be looking for a new job.

Two skateboard "dudes" come in and sign up. They are now number 11 in line. Finally, someone is behind me. The one's pants are below his butt. I am fascinated. By what mechanism do these pants stay attached to him? If I put my pants that low they fall around my ankles. Miraculously his stay in position. I suspect suspenders but don't see any evidence to support that theory. Perhaps they are secretly pinned to his underwear? Truly one of the great mysteries of our time. "Hey dude, check out this phone I found." He turns to his buddy with delight at finding my phone. Mind you, we're in a phone store, there are phones on display everywhere and he zeros in on mine.

"Um, sorry, but that's my phone. Please put it back."

"Oh, sorry dude. You really should be more careful where you leave your phone. You never know what might happen." Really? You mean some knucklehead like you might steal it? Here in the phone store? I was going to open my flap and give him what for, but decided his comment was so funny it deserved to stand on its own.

It's now 5:30, the phone manager is still talking on his phone. Two of the four staff that used to be helping customers have packed up their stuff, donned their coats and left the building. There are two sales people left plus the manager and I am next. 6 pm, they call my name.

I explain my problem to the sales guy. who apologizes for the wait. "Yes, we've seen that before. Let me get you a new phone." Ok, finally I am getting somewhere. My account is brought up, the arrangements made and by 6:15 I am out of there in time to meet Terri at the Fisk Planetarium for the 7pm show. The phone will arrive by Friday so I can travel to New York that afternoon to help out at the NYC Marathon.

Friday comes and nothing. I ask our receptionist to call and find out what's going on as I am now at the airport waiting to board the plane sans working phone. "I called Verizon and got the manager on the phone (you remember him). He said he can see where you were here on Wednesday but there's no record of any phone." Figures.

When I land I try the dead phone one more time just to see and by some miracle it reboots and turns on. Battery's low but it's usable. Glory be. At the hotel I manage to put the charging cord in just right, balancing it precariously between the edge of my laptop and the table. But it works!

On my arrival back in Boulder I decide to forego another exciting experience at the phone store and go straight to the Apple store. They, of course, also have themaitre d' but this fellow's nice, gives me an appointment with one of their geniuses. Ok, I am not real big on the name. "Genius" is a bit presumptuous specially in a university town where the labor pool is still working on their "genius" status. None the less, I am escorted back to tech support and wait for my genius. All I really want is a new phone, but I wait.

"How can I help?" My genius is a pleasant looking fellow that takes immediate charge of the situation. I explain about the squirelly connector and the need to replace the phone before my warranty runs out. "I think I can probably fix this right now." Sure you can, I think. Heck, any genius could I smirked.

My genius got a small paperclip out from under the bar, fished around inside my phone's connector and out came the biggest piece of lint I've ever seen. Twice what I can pull out of my bellybutton on a productive day. "Lint?" My jaw drops in surprise.

"Yes, lint. I'll bet you wear jeans?" Since I was wearing jeans at the time I am not giving him genius status for that observation but the lint fix? You bet. Pure genius.

"Thanks. You really ARE a genius."

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Paul McGowan

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