January 5, 2008
As a die-hard Windows PC user, stepping into the Apple Store on Regent Street felt like checking into a hotel, just for the hour, with mistress in tow. Dirty. But only metaphorically. The Apple Store is shiny, clean, and full of smiling, knowing staff (or “Geniuses”, as I think they’re known, judging by the help desks, or rather “Genius Bars”). Apple Mac users don’t do dessert, certainly not humble pie. They’re out and proud. Unlike PC users. And I stood out like a sore loser. Every product looked superior to the PC, and the place was jam-packed with people having “user experiences”.
As I want to do more of my own video and sound editing, I thought it at least polite to entertain the idea of buying a Mac. So I reserved a place at one of the free workshops which happen in a little lecture theatre at the back of the store. For an hour, I sat, magistrate-like, hearing the evidence as to why I was a loser for not being a member of the Mac community. And mighty compelling it was too. But rather than plot out technical machinations in an attempt to soothe my feelings of treachery, this blog revisits a favourite theme: people-watching.
The workshop attracted nothing but individuals, and when individuals are on display in public, their behaviour changes. Without the security of the pack, we’re left to fend for our socially-awkward selves. Within minutes of the lecture starting, enter “Spanish Lady On ‘Phone”, chatting with gusto at a steady fortissimo dynamic. Under any other circumstances, I’d be spinning round in my seat a la Exorcist, brows at lip-level, devil in my eyes. But I was out of my depth here. After all, I wouldn’t wish to be seen by anyone I knew, especially not with my metaphorical mistress.
After blanking out Spanish Lady, I became aware, stage-right, of “Mad Old Dear, Surely Too Old To Have A Computer”. I’d assumed she’d wandered in to find a toilet, or just shelter from the rain. But it seemed that she was there for the same reason as I. Her way of dealing with the situation was to share, quite vocally, titbits from her mind:
Genius: So, if you click here, you’ll see that the sister application opens automatically.
Mad Old Dear: I see! There is it! Bobbing up and down! Like a yo-yo. Isn’t it marvellous? Bouncy, bouncy….
Genius: …I’m afraid that’s all we have time for in this session. But coming up next is an introduction to the iMovie and iDVD applications.
Mad Old Dear: I see. Well, should I stay for those? I’m not sure. I have enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if I should stay. I’ve really got to get back. Oh go on then. I’ll stay.
Most of the other participants sat with Mac laptops on, well, their laps. Why on earth should they be attending a “PC to Mac” workshop? Perhaps it’s a Mac secret (or “iSecret” or “iShhh!”)? I stayed for the second workshop too, despite a very full bladder and lack of iToilet. And a further 60 minutes later, I GAVE IN! I want one, and I want one now.
The Apple Store website promises shipping within 24 hours. I persuaded my credit card to come out of hiding, and I did the deed. (By the way, the 24 hours promise is a big fib – shipping is promised 6 days later in my case, then a further half-a-week or more for delivery.) But I’m indoctrinated now; Mac can do no wrong. I look forward to receiving my new toy, taking a deep breath, and swallowing a whole bundle of smug. And later, when stuck for character ideas for a new play, I shall go and attend an Apple workshop, and people-watch: an eye for an i.