Thursday, July 28, 2016

At the Apple Store

            I enjoy going to the Apple Store. If I didn’t have to go to a mall to find one I would enjoy it even more, but still – it’s a good experience. Somebody with a blue shirt and an iPad greets me when I come in and then tells me where to stand while I wait for the right person to come over to answer my question or show me a product I probably won’t buy. I’ve learned that they write down some little descriptive phrase on that iPad so the person can find you. I wonder what they write down about me?

            While I’m waiting I am surrounded by evidence that the world has again moved ahead of me, making everything brighter, sharper, faster, and more compact. I congratulate the world, even as I watch it race forward into the future, accelerating toward the distance. I may be helping the process along by falling back into the past as I forget something I learned at the Apple Store the last time I was there – my goal being to learn things as fast as I forget other things. But still, I feel good for the world and these bright young blue-shirted people who make it all work.

            I was there two days ago with my friend Randy, who was taking his phone in for repairs. I was looking at a new iPad to replace my antique Kindle, which was no longer obedient to my commands. When I saw that the iPad would cost me $400 in comparison with the new Kindle’s $80, I told Randy I probably would not buy one. He was dumbfounded.

            “Why the hell not?”

            “I don’t need one.”

            “What does need have to do with it? Just buy it!”

            “But . . ..”

            “Ask yourself this: Do you deserve it?”

            This is not a comfortable question for me. Of course, I deserve a new iPad. And of course, I don’t.

            “Well, I . . ..”

            “Do you fucking deserve it!” This was not a question.

            I looked around the store for a way to answer Randy, who was not going away. I spotted the Apple logo – it was everywhere. The bite out of the apple was supposed to signify the knowledge that their computers would give you access to. Fair enough. But there is a dark side to the story of the Tree of Knowledge: sin, and more importantly, guilt. I couldn’t think of any specific sins that made me feel guilty, but I am aware of the Christian concept of Original Sin and its secular manifestation, human imperfection. I see evidence of our shared imperfection every time I check the news or drive through urban sprawl, and how can I believe that I somehow rise above that imperfection? The daily evidence is abundant, most recently in my driving through traffic on the way to the mall.

            Randy and I told Kim about this conversation, ending with my not buying an iPad, a new laptop (brighter, sharper, faster, more compact), or even that $80 Kindle.

            “David’s a monk,” she said. “He never buys himself anything.”

            More evidence of my imperfection.

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