Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An enjoyable five minutes at the mall


When people ask me if I'd like to go to the mall with them this time of year, I generally tell them I've scheduled outpatient surgery for a thrombosed hemorrhoid. With apologies to Frank Zappa, I'd much rather be 'buns up kneelin' than within five miles of any holiday shopping mall. Nonetheless the perfect storm of circumstances combined to drive me to the mall to replace my dead iPod at the Apple store.

The inevitable traffic snarl is the first of many aggravations. Waiting for the fat lady to carefully load 8 shopping bags into her trunk before plopping into the drivers seat and fixing her makeup so a person can park three stalls closer does not help the traffic situation, or my mental state, one bit. After parking in the very first spot I see, no matter if its 40 acres away from the door, I made a beeline for my destination like a guy in Mercedes blowing by Volkswagons and Fiats on the autobahn, trying to breathe shallowly to avoid inhaling the ever changing mall stench. Once at the store I figure my frustration and aggravation has only begun, with insolent, gum popping, high school aged clerks, checkout lines, and 'associates' who not only don't know the product they are selling but couldn't find their own ass with either hand. Imagine my surprise when that scenario didn't play out.

I went in armed and seeking battle. I had heard that Apple offered a 10% discount and recycling for dead iPods. I fully expected to hear the offer had expired at the start of the holiday season but the pleasant and knowledgeable young woman that met me at the door told me the offer was indeed still in place. She answered my 3 or 4 questions and volunteered that the new Ipods were more reliable because they did not have a spinning hard disk.I told her I was in and it took her less than a minute to walk back and grab me a new iPod Touch. As I eyed the long linesshopping she informed me that was the tech help line and that she could check me out where we stood. She pulled out a device about twice the size of a transistor radio (you now know just how old I am) and scanned my credit card. I was waiting for her to pull a receipt printer out of her pocket but she simply asked if it was OK to send the receipt to my email and automatically register me for the warranty. Hell yes! I thanked her, took a deep breath, and headed for my car as fast as I could walk, Apple bag containing new iPod clutched in my hand. I had spent right around 5 minutes in the store.

It was a good experience, maybe the only good experience I can recall having in a mall except for maybe the time my whole company was ejected from Gatlins Music Club in the Mall of America for disrupting a country line dance. Even the packaging for the iPod was well thought out and I didn't have to recreate the shower scene from Psycho trying to open some miserable clamshell. The package can also be used to store the device and cords rather than adding to the landfill. Good design all around.

The iPod worked flawlessly and TheLegend, GalwayGuy, and I listed to famous Big Top Chautauqua performer and deer camp member, Phillip Anich and other artists as we headed north. My five minutes spent in the mall this year was painless, productive, and efficient. Maybe I'll just cancel that hemorrhoid procedure for the time being.