30 January 2019
Not a terribly keen observation, but iPhones have become ubiquitous, intrusive, demanding…and necessary. We’d like to think we’re not dependent on them but, truth is, we are. No more vivid proof is needed than this…my phone over months, slid into impotence. I’d plug it in to recharge it, come back hours later to find it had only a small charge. I knocked with a knuckle on the front panel of the phone, hoping to wake it up, hoping it would come to life. I shook it, as if two loose wires would touch and the magical elixir of electronic life would course again through its digital brain. But nothing. An hour of recharging yielded but a 5% charge. A week later it was 3%. A week after that 1%. Then nothing…no calls, no Times, no Amazon.
When my car didn’t work (before cars had computer brains) I tinkered with the carburetor, changed the spark plugs…got it to work. But this nanotech system can’t be tinkered with. It’s as complex as DNA. It needs…my tinkering self says in defeat…a techie at the Apple store to work some voodoo magic or to declare it’s beyond repair.
The nearest Apple store in White Plains was getting a facelift and was closed for months. In desperation, now that I was dealing with a phone in constant slumber, I went further afield to a mall in Yonkers…on a cloudless Saturday…from whence a call to the consuming public must have gone out, since a sea of humanity had converged…a hadj of the shopping faithful, convinced that accumulating more stuff would secure a place in heaven. Seeing a World Series crowd, I knew I wouldn’t find a parking space and fled. My ailing iPhone’s destiny imperiled by a closed store and crowds. But all was not lost, since we were New York City-bound, where we parked uptown and took the subway to the Apple store on 66th Street.
Four steps into the store an Apple greeter, solicitous as a candidate, asked if he could help. I told him my iPhone wouldn’t charge. Resuscitation seemed unlikely to me, I speculated, hoping to get a new phone out of the deal. Nothing I don’t see everyday, he said. Usually some lint in the opening, where you plug in the recharging chord. Can’t be, I said...it’s been getting more feeble in the last few months. I jiggle the plug and it connects for a second or two, like static on a ham radio, but can’t lock on. Now it’s totally unresponsive, no contact at all…useless as an empty fraternity beer keg..
Well, said the greeter, I had someone here not five minutes ago with the same problem. He took a small screwdriver-like tool on his Apple keychain and probed the opening a couple of times, magically loosening some lint. Three, four, five more times he went back in…each time, more lint. He blew into the opening, handed me the phone and said, triumphantly, it’s cured. That’s it? I asked incredulously. That’s it.
Sensing my suspicion that a fix should more resemble the complexity of the phone itself, he told me to check it with a recharger chord on a display table of iPhones. Sure enough the lightning symbol lit up and a charge started coursing through the phone…a quick 1, 2, 3 percent. Unbelievable. I’m now pleased to be back to my dependency. Amazon and I are very happy.