Yesterday morning at 8:30 a.m., after packing up the misbehaving iPod, the computer and the two drives that contained duplicates of my iTunes library (the original one on the USB drive, and the newly copied files on the Firewire II drive) we drove to the Flatiron Crossing Apple Store. John and I arrived just in time for our 9:45 a.m. arrival time. When you have a ten o'clock appointment, they let you in the door before the store actually opens.
I'm going to skip ahead right now and admit that we walked out of the store at 8:15 last night—without the iPod, which had been replaced yet again, or the Firewire drive with its library files. The marvelous men from the Genius Bar are going to continue trying to solve the riddle of the iPod that wouldn't until my next appointment, which will be Thursday morning at the same time as yesterday. Now I'll talk a bit about my day at the Apple Store.
During the day, I don't think there was a single store employee who didn't ask me if I was okay, or apologize for the length of time it was taking to diagnose and correct the problem. Since I was there for just short of the entire time the store was open that day, I saw how busy these people were. It's amazing to me that those not directly involved with my issues even had time to realize I was there.
Matt was the first to tackle the problem. He had worked with me on one of my other visits, so was aware that this was not a first time problem. I had printed out the blog I'd written, hitting both the highlights of the saga and what we had done, both at the store and at home to overcome the problems. He read the entire blog with diligence and attention. I had expected him to skim it. I don't know why, but that's what I thought would happen. Then he looked me in the eye and said, "This really helps. Thank you." Wow. If we're going to erect a big chalk board to tally points, that gives him several.
Soon the equipment was up and humming, and Matt let me know the meaning of multitasking, as he helped an assortment of people without stopping his work on my problem. When my iPod was busy with a check, or trying to download, he was treating another customer to the same gracious and respectful expertise as he gave me during that long day. His lunch hour was covered by another young man who, unfortunately, didn't wear a name tag. He was great, though, and kept at it until Matt returned.
It was finally determined, after multiple changes, checks, and attempts failed, to again replace the iPod. By this time, Aaron came on the scene. Matt began ensuring that he knew what had been done and what still needed to be done before we could call this a success.
Aaron and Matt continued mothering my equipment while helping a horde of customers with questions and problems. Some of them were quick fixes. Many of the questions I could have answered myself. A good majority of the questions could have been answered by the people with ten minutes on Apple's web site. Their tech notes are great, but I guess most of these people don't live an hour from the Apple Store. I asked Matt at one point, after he so politely answered the same (dumb) question for about the third time in two hours, if they had a "scream" room in the back somewhere. He laughed and admitted that there was a room, though not soundproof, that was far enough back from the sales floor that he'd heard a bit of screaming in on occasion.
I'm just so impressed with the quality of customer relations I've seen in that store, and I've been there enough lately that I should almost earn a bedroll. They are never condescending. No question is treated lightly, and no customer that I've seen has been treated anything but pleasantly and respectfully. Whoever hires these gems deserves praise indeed. They wear shirts that say, "Not All Heroes Wear Capes." They earn those shirts.
By the end of the day, the new iPod was rolling right along, downloading the files. We had a countdown going in the store. It was getting late, and everyone was thinking that success was imminent. Matt's shift had ended, and he'd gone home to his family. Aaron stood there, helping someone else, but peeking at the screen repeatedly to see. John had come in from the car, where he'd spent the day with his HAM radio (of course) and was standing behind me. When we did the final "five - four - three - two - one" it seemed like the whole store burst into cheers. I was thrilled. Then the iPod crashed.
We ejected it and it said it was empty. How can that be? A moment before, it had all the files on it. Aaron was all mine again. He reattached it to the computer, and the files were there. He ejected it and it said it was empty. What? He connected it to another computer. Yes, the files were there. He ejected it. It said it was empty. He did a soft reset. It still said it was empty. Again. Still empty. He tried a third computer. One thing the Apple Store has is plenty of computers to try. Yep. The iPod is full of all my tunes, all my audio books. Unfortunately, when you eject it, it thinks it's empty.
Aaron looked at me and admitted he'd never seen anything like it before. I told him I wanted to go home, and could he please make me an appointment for Thursday? He suggested we leave the iPod and Library behind so they could work on it while we didn't have to sit there waiting. That was a great idea. Even with my knitting, it was a very long day. Their stools are not padded—or comfortable. On Thursday, I think I'll bring a cushion.
Before I left, Aaron said something that really touched me. "Thank you for being so patient. I'm really sorry we haven't gotten it straightened out yet." I was pretty surprised. From my point of view, they're the ones who have been patiently going through every possible angle. All I've had to do was sit with my knitting or my book, keeping an eye on the progress when they were busy. I told him something I honestly believe. "When I raised my three sons, I always told them to do their very best, and then if it isn't good enough for someone, then it's that person's problem. You guys have done your very best here, and I know you haven't give up. That's good enough for me."
I'll be back on Thursday, and I believe I'll come home with the situation resolved. How could I not with this type of help behind me? And I did get a reward: an unexpected snowfall started during the night, and is falling gently. We have about an inch on the ground, and the pines are frosted. It's a beautiful day up here in the foothills. I know I wouldn't choose to live in the suburbs... not even to be closer to the Apple Store.