Ian Mutch visits the world’s largest Apple store and concludes that it is staffed by halfwits
My old mate the Bug, a morose and cynical cove once said to me; “youngsters today are much smarter than we ever were.” I have had cause to question the validity of the claim in fact I am inclined to think it is, as the French would say; ‘a load of old cobbleurres.’
“Why so?” you ask.
OK, take modern technology where the young seem to excel and we baby-boomers struggle in their intellectual wake like flotsam astern the Nimitz. See twenty- somethings double thumb tapping smart phones and a sense of deep inferiority creeps over you like a neanderthal gasping awestruck at a man with a calculater. But just how smart are these juvenile wizards when the chips are down and the real intellects are laid bare?
In 1997 I bought my first mobile phone, a comparatively simple Nokia which is to the iPhone what a horse-drawn cart is to a 21st century Lotus. On my old Nokia I could text any number of people while travelling on the London tube where I had no signal. Of course the text went nowhere until I surfaced whereupon the phone picked up a network, took a look at its queued messages and got on with dispatching them.
So why cannot my infinitely superior iPhone 5 do the same? Cueue up texts on this space age icon of technological excellence and unless you check on every one of them individually they will sit motionless like blindfolded carrier pigeons until the master comes to unwrap their blinkers and hurl them one at a time into the great blue yonder.
Clearly there had to be some default setting that needed altering to ensure I enjoyed the same convenience that was mine 18 years ago.
The Covent Garden Applestore is the biggest in the world and so into this giant multi-level palace of perfection I sauntered, slaloming between the legion of multi-national eager helpers in matching iShirts, looking for the cleverest and prettiest to unburden myself to.
“Can I help you sir?” chirruped a stunning toothpaste smile youngster glowing with college graduate confidence.
I smiled back and explained my issue.
“Ah here’s what you do sir, may I ..” She took my phone with corporately polite caution and explained how to release each of the blindfolded pigeons manually.
“How do I set the phone to do this automatically?” I asked. The smile remained but frozen now in a rictus grin of uncertainty at the unexpected follow up question.
“Excuse me sir?”
“I don’t want to do it manually, I want the phone to just do this automatically like my old Nokia did in 1997.”
I watched as the assistant calculated if she was alive in ’97 before calling a colleague over. This guy had the same
iShirt but a ponytail, he was super cool and even smarter; he showed me the same manual procedure which ended with a silent ‘simples’ conclusive grin. I explained my disappointment and what I felt was reasonable expectation. The pair conferred like security guards recognising the intrusion of a trouble maker.
“You may want to try the genius bar,” they concluded.
“As distinct from the moron veranda?” I did not say.
I climbed through space on a floating glass staircase secured by stainless steel bolts to be directed by a girl with a clipboard to a man whose brain clearly eclipsed the complexity of the Hadron Collider.
I repeated my issue with the certainty of a man braced for disappointment.
I was not disappointed, I was disappointed.
The manual option was repeated for me. It was time for an analogy.
“If I buy a 2015 Rolls Royce which fails to start every other attempt and the dealer shows me a starting handle in the boot, I’m going to want my money back.”
Nervous laughter, furrowed brow. “You can provide customer feedback via this terminal,” he offered, and I did. One year on I still await an explanation.
It’s not just that these smart young people can’t answer my question that makes me query their real intelligence; it’s that they haven’t even asked themselves the question. I may as well have asked Bob the sage in the offie.
So are they far smarter than me? To paraphrase Ed Milliband “hell no!” Why? Because they don’t think laterally. They’ve learned a lot but they aren’t demonstrating original thought — they are thick as shit. Says who? Says i.
~first appeared on Medium here