A week ago, I spent a couple of quality hours with Apple technicians, over the phone, to resolve an issue I was having with my iTunes account. The relief I felt when I heard, over the course of two separate interactions, how confused these experts were by my problem was hard to define. I consider myself to be a pretty savvy end user, which is to say that I try to do all the basic steps first before I ever dial that 800 number. I check to see if the cables are connected. I make sure that I have the current version of the software. I go online to see if there is a fix or a patch that I can install quickly and easily. I make sure that the machine is, in fact, plugged in. In the case of my iTunes dilemma, I had exhausted all these alternatives before I initiated a chat with a "genius."
To their credit, the friendly folks at Apple seem to want us to interact with them, even if they do make it a bit of a challenge. I put my name and number in their automated system and waited for a "genius" to get in touch with me. As I waited, I wondered how this process might work if the Apple device I was hoping to get help with was the one that either connected me to the Internet or was my telephone. I was gratified by the notion that if I didn't get any satisfaction from this pending interaction I could take solace in the mp3 downloads from Amazon, and the cloud player that company seems more than happy to promote on their web site.
Then the phone rang. Alexandra introduced herself, and I myself, then we began to discuss my problem. After politely deflecting her suggestion that I simply follow the directions on their support page, since I had done so twice with no success, she began to examine my situation and account a little more deeply. After putting me on hold long enough to hear a whole Dave Matthews song, she came back with the answer: The release of the new iPhones had overloaded the server that kept track of passwords and accounts, and the changes that I had made would most certainly be reflected the very next day. I suggested that maybe having the one server on a day when millions of new accounts would be added may not have been the best business model. Alexandra agreed. She offered to call me back the next day to check on my progress. I told her that I hoped that it wouldn't be necessary and we said our goodbyes.
As it turned out, it was necessary. After more than twenty-four hours, I was still not able to access my iTunes account, the one that had served me so bravely and effortlessly for so many years. I logged back onto their support system and signed up for another call. This time it was Jeff who called me back. He too wanted to expedite the call by running me through the normal hoops. I politely assured him that I had tried the easy stuff, and Alexandra had hoped that the server would be making room for me by this point. To Jeff's credit, he recognized a challenge. He put my account up on his machine, and it froze up. Somehow, my iTunes account had become the undoing of the Apple Empire. This was the part where I took some smug satisfaction on presenting a problem that actually required fixing. It was also the point where I felt that I was working with Jeff as we navigated the arcane complexities of account password protection. This required me sharing the answers to the security questions that had once been part of my login procedure. We became closer as a result, and after another twenty minutes of cajoling and exhorting our collective computing hardware and software to come up with a solution, there was a breakthrough. Jeff was able to crack the code that had been inserted crossways somewhere in the recent past, and I was suddenly granted access to the virtual record store once again.
I thanked Jeff for his effort, and his tenacity. He told me he was glad that he finally had a call that was worth his effort and tenacity. Then, perhaps as payback for the revelations I had offered in my security questions, he told me that he was going to be off work soon, to which I replied that I hoped that he would have a safe drive home. He told me it would be more like a walk upstairs. As it turns out, Jeff had been working from his office downstairs and was going to hang up with me and head off to bed. He was already in his pajamas. On the brink of oversharing, I bid him adieu. Maybe Jeff's a genius after all. I don't get to do my job in my pajamas.