Column: Why I hate the Apple Store

Confronting oversimplification and adulthood: we all must do things we don’t want to do.

Kate McCarthy

I entered my first Minnesota Apple Store two years after arriving at the University of Minnesota.

It was a final resort, not something I relished succumbing to, in order to fix the dripping ink-like gash in my iPhone’s cracked screen. And it was the same as any Apple Store I’d ever visited anywhere else. I don’t know what I expected — Apple is truly the McDonald’s of tech, but sleeker and with 75 percent more wait time. It’s the same wherever you go, and that surely lends comfort to twitching customers looking for touchscreen relief. The Apple Store is serene and untouchable. The Apple Store will give you all the answers and gladly dive into whatever hideous tech problem you have. I hate the Apple Store.

Even when the iPhone was first introduced, I had no interest in all that the iPhone entailed, even the fun social media elements — too complicated. It was too much and not something I wanted to deal with in scope. My two younger siblings, however, adored the Apple Store feverishly.

When spending weekends with our father, they would spot one of the cube-shaped stores and parlay his affable leniency into what seemed like hours inside its doors. Just a few moments to palm a device or tool around with gadgets thrilled them, sucking their eyes down to whatever rubber-chained product was first available. But I would languish dramatically on the sidelines, sighing with exasperation and tugging at my father’s sleeve as I begged to leave. I could not think of anything more boring. I just didn’t want to engage.

Years later, I sat with my mangled device, gazing off into the distance at the free outside world, and resenting the necessity for this trip. All around me people were taking stock of their tech issues, asking involved questions and doing a dance of informational exchange. Having and then maintaining a piece of technology is not a task to be taken lightly. It means acting with care and attentiveness, and having the maturity to anticipate problems before they blow up.

Looking down at my navy-sleeved smart phone, I thought about my own aversion to complications and digging below the surface. My own tendencies are for simplicity. I remembered AP Government, when our teacher asked what “conservative” and “liberal” denoted, and I raised my hand to jump immediately to Republican and Democrat. No deeper thought. I remembered arguments with siblings, often over who got to use Dad’s iPhone in the backseat of the car, and my avoidance of them at all costs. No involvement. It was a stunting of my own growth that had been relatively unchecked for too long.

I went through the whole Apple Store song and dance, funneled through their system of employees brandishing iPads. I sat and talked with Sophie, admiring her calmness under fire and whatever shade of lip stain she had managed to hang onto until 6:35 p.m. I was taking matters into my own hands and growing up a tiny bit — in the most HBO “Girls” way possible — by choosing to face and embrace complications. And strolling out of the Apple Store to catch my bus, I felt all right about it. Besides, I still had to come back the next day to finish repairs.