When Ryan Björklund goes to the Apple Store, he understands that he’s paying for the experience.
A few years ago, after being disappointed with the Google search results for “coping with depression,” I realized there was a way for me to cope with my depression. It was right under my nose all along.
Whenever I’m feeling down, I take the gun out of my mouth (lawlz) and trek to the nearest Apple Store (after all, any bastion of modern civilization can be judged by how many Apple Stores and Panera Breads they have). Apple Stores are usually packed with happy people, and there’s always a manager near the entrance to greet me and assure me that they’re there for me if I need anything.
You think you know where this is going, but you don’t.
I weave through the swaths of upper middle-class people, most of whom are talking to one of the monochromatically-attired employees about hardwares, softwares, snow leopards, tigers, regular leopards, ligers, and what have you. I make my way to the Genius Bar, where I ask one of the resident Geniuses a series of hypothetical questions about computer troubleshooting. They are always very polite, but quickly suggest that I make an appointment. The Geniuses are in demand, so they are on a very tight schedule.
After this happens, I just blend in for a while. The rows of tables have the latest iPads, iPhones, iMacs (there could be a joke here about how iDont give a shit, but there won’t be. That’d be negative, and this is a tale of happiness.). Top-of-the-line Apple products galore! Best of the best, all running on the fastest internet connection in town. All there for you to interact with.
I log onto one of the computers and go to the Google search bar.
I do this on as many computers as I can, and then I return to the Genius Bar and compliment one of them on their Crocs. They thank me, and tell me how comfortable they are. Then they ask if I’ve been helped yet. I say “Oh yes, thank you.”
Nearby, I pretend to look at the rack of iCessories(?). This is when I glance back at the computers I’ve just been on. I often like what I see. I see frowns. I see people who are ill-at-ease, starting to feel queasy knowing there is someone close by who feels absolutely awful about his life. Usually, you can see it hit really close to home. A few customers will gather their things and immediately leave.
That’s how you feel, I guess. You have your own problems, just trying to fill the void of your upper middle-class life with a new toy, and all of a sudden you are in a crowded room looking up ways to stop the pain. Admitting to all those that surround you–the Joneses you keep up with–that you are not good enough for your spouse. That there’s not enough money to renew your happiness.
Surprisingly, this often rings true for Apple’s target demographic. Before long, the monochromatically-attired employees begin to frown as well, realizing that a boogeyman is depressing their customers. This is the part where I pick up the cheapest thing I can find and ask the most unenthused employee I can spot to scan it with their iPhone. I give them a fake email for the receipt. Whatever little trinket I walk out with, I don’t need. I know this. What I really purchased was the experience. The piece of mind that comes with learning that even those who appear to have it all are just as frustrated with their mediocre lives as I am with mine.