Friday, February 26, 2016

Ben is Boring and The Apple Store Sucks

Hello, Readers.  Look, I've been so busy with work this week I haven't had the time to do much that makes me happy.  That's just the reality of things.  Speaking of reality, I just glossed over my notes from this week's Bachelor in hopes of throwing something together in my carved-out hour of writing time today.  

At first, I was convinced that I had  horrible case of Writer's Block; however, after careful, measured reflection I've come to realize that the show is boring this season.  It's also uncommonly predictable.  Ergo, my heretofore misdiagnosed Writer's Block.  The truth is that I just don't have much to say about it this week.  Let me try, however.     

First, the letter from JoJo's ex-boyfriend looked like it was written by a female ABC intern.  I'm not buying the fact that Chad uses XOXO to sign his letters or that he dots his I's with hearts.   I'm also not buying the strategically placed roses outside of the Uptown Dallas condo that JoJo's dad bought for her.  

Every guy knows this.  If you order roses for a woman and she's not home when they try to deliver them, the florist calls you and they keep them refrigerated in the truck until they can track her down.  Every. Guy. Knows. This.  It's common knowledge.  

And don't tell me "Chad" picked them up and left them there coincidentally when JoJo would be arriving home after 3 weeks out of town with a television crew in tow.  Nonsense.  "Chad" doesn't strike me as the flowers at the airport baggage claim guy.  

By the way, I'm sick of that guy.  It makes the rest of us look like we're not trying.  If you're that guy, knock it off.  

Oh, and an a**hole from Dallas named Chad?  That's easier to find than a coffee shop in Seattle or a guy named Hector on a construction crew.  Aside from Sean Lowe and Tony Romo, every white guy from Dallas is named Chad.  In fact, I think both of JoJo's "brothers" were named Chad.  That whole situation was a bit creepy, was it not?  

My predictions for the Fantasy Suite: 

1.   JoJo gives it up faster than Usain Bolt can run the 200.

2.   Lauren gives it up but makes him a nice gift before she gets defiled.

3.  Caila gives it up but somehow fumbles the ball on the goal line after she gets defiled.  

My best guess is that JoJo and Lauren make the final two.  I've said that Lauren B.'s simplicity compared to the edgier JoJo will win out.  The ex-boyfriend and hyper aggressive alpha-male step-brothers certainly didn't help JoJo's case and Lauren has been, if nothing else, consistent all season.  I'm confident that she'll be sort of engaged for an indefinite period of unspecified time and that JoJo will lose her shot at becoming the temporary-almost-Mrs. Ben Higgins.  

Now, I'd like you to humor me as I rant about what's really on my mind today.  

Ok, so why am I cranky and uninspired today?  Well, let me allow all of you to peek behind the Some Guy curtain for a moment.  Lord knows there's a lot to see behind my curtain.  

Anyone who knows me is aware that my biggest pet peeve BY FAR is waiting in line for anything.  I hate it.  I mean really hate it.  Another one of my pet peeves is bad service or incompetence accompanied by apathy.  Examples?  A waiter who doesn't know about the menu or getting the wrong thing at the drive through.  Perfection is not required but I expect a certain amount of competence and pride in whatever is being done.  I just want people to do the job they're being paid to do.  It's that simple.  When that doesn't happen, it drives me nuts, especially if I have to wait in line for it.   

How far will I go to avoid both of these from invading my day?  Trust me, it crosses the Unreasonable Line into the Ridiculous. 

I've actually paid an additional $300 to upgrade my airplane seat 6 rows so I didn't have to wait to exit the plane.

I paid $800 for a new iPhone because I was told I'd have to make an appointment at the Apple Store to get my broken one fixed.

I once drove past 2 bagel shops and one breakfast place in my neighborhood because I saw a line when I pulled into the parking lot.  I ended up not eating.    

Crazy?  Maybe, but I can't get around it.  

Another pet peeve?  Millennials.  Not everyone in the entire generation, just the vast majority of them.  I know I sound like an old man, but to be fair, many of the qualities that made me angry when I was in my 20's are now embodied in that generation.  In other words, I hated most of them before they were born. 

Little did I know that I was headed for the perfect storm when I broke that phone I paid $800 for in order to replace the other one I paid $500 for a few months prior to that.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  So here's how this sets up. 

Months ago, I dropped my iPhone.  Because I'm a minimalist, I refused to buy a giant rubber case for my iPhone.  Let's just forget about the fact that Apple has the balls to charge me $40 bucks for it.  The iPhone 6S is already big enough.  Putting a giant case on it is like carrying a gas station restroom key chained to a 2X4 to prevent it from being stolen.  If it won't snugly and unassumingly fit in the front pocket of a pearl snap shirt, I don't want it.  That rule of thumb, by the way, saves me a lot of aggravation.  

I won't belabor the background and I promise to get to my point.  When I broke the first phone, I made the mistake of going to AT&T--you know, where I bought the phone--to replace it.  I was given the "we're just the service provider we don't handle repair or replacement" canned speech and told I had to go to Apple.  I called Apple first from the AT&T Store and was told I had to make an appointment.  The guy was nice enough to dial them from the land line for me.   

The call went something like this:

SGIA:  Appointment?  I'm not going to the dentist.  I'm coming in a retail store to give you some more of my money.  Why do I need an appointment to give you money?  

APPLE:  Sorry, sir (read: jerk), you'll have to make an appointment at the Genius Bar so they can look at your phone.  

SGIA:  Genius Bar?  Hold on.  (to AT&T guy behind counter)  How much will it cost me to get a phone right here right now? 

ATT:  $800 but I think you should just . . . .

SGIA:  Ring it up.   

Fast forward to early this week and picture my eyes widening in slow motion as my phone tumbled from my hand on to the sidewalk in front of me shattering the screen.  I'll spare you the four letter words that followed in quick succession . . . all 100 of them.  

So I'm sitting in my car realizing that I now have two iPhones with broken screens that need to be fixed.  The trip to The Apple Store was now as inevitable as the sunset.  I called from my cracked phone and made an appointment.  Like it or not, I'd have to play their game.  

gen·ius  (ˈjēnyəs/)  

noun: genius; plural noun: geniuses

exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability."she was a teacher of genius"

brilliance, intelligence, intellect, ability, cleverness, brains, erudition, wisdom, fine mind; Moreartistry, flair 
"the world knew of his genius"

talent, gift, flair, aptitude, facility, knack, bent, ability, expertise, capacity, faculty; strength, forte, brilliance, skill, artistry 
"she has a genius for organization"

Let's see.  Issac Newton, Albert Einstein, Ludwig Von Beethoven, Rene Descartes,  and every single person that works retail in the back of the Apple Store.  Sounds about right, doesn't it?   

Here are my observations upon showing up for my Apple appointment. 

1.  The store is, by definition, designed to draw all of the customers to the back.  ANYTHING that needs to be accomplished there--other than playing with all of the Apple devices--must occur at the back of the store.  In other words, it's designed for Apple's benefit rather than for the customer's convenience. 

Just in case there is any question about that, there's a guy in a blue shirt within 5 feet of the door wearing $10,000 worth of electronics hanging from various parts of his blue Apple shirt and skinny jeans holding an iPad that--by the looks of it--contains the answer to every single possible question he could be asked.  I know this because he never made eye contact with me he just stared into his iPad rapidly punching the screen.    

I wondered for a second if he wasn't in the process of putting the final touches on his avant garde movie or finishing his online application at Starbucks.  

The answer to all of those millions of possible questions, by the way, is "go see another guy in a blue shirt with $10,000 worth of electronics hanging from various parts of his blue Apple shirt and skinny jeans holding an iPad at the back of the store."   

2.  There are 200 employees who cannot help me with $10,000 worth of electronics hanging from various parts of their blue Apple shirts and skinny jeans holding iPads between the guy at the front door and the guy at the back of the store.  They don't look up from their iPads either.  

3.  The guy at the back of the store's job?  As best as I can tell, his job is to ask me the same questions I was asked by the guy up front, type knowingly into his iPad and then respond, "wait over there, someone will be right with you" while simultaneously pointing to an empty area.  

I won't bore you with all of the details, but because I had two phones repaired, I ended up making four visits to The Apple Store.  Numbers 1-3 were identical each time.  They are, if nothing else I suppose, consistent.  

4.  The other 198 people working at the store cannot help me unless their iPad sends them a message to speak with me.  They might as well unionize or work for the government.  They're only allowed to perform one function and have no interest in doing anything but that one function--whatever that may be.  

I was actually "helped" by a woman who emerged from behind the Wizard of Oz-esque giant silver door behind the "Genius Bar."  She looked at her iPad (a job requirement) and actually said--and I mean this--"Great SGIA, someone will be right out to pick up your damaged phone and take it back for repair" before she hit a spot reading "Enter" on her iPad and walked back behind the giant silver door.  I literally thought they were f*cking with me. 

So I waited.  And waited.  I waited in fear of leaving the spot I was told to stand on because I thought if I moved, I would somehow reset the Apple front-to-back-to-Genius checker-to-next guy behind the door continuum. After all, these are geniuses I'm dealing with and I'm far too stupid to second guess them.  After I got sick of waiting, I began to wander.  

5.  NOTHING has a price on it.  I take that back.  The Beats headphones have a $399 price tag buried on the back right hand corner in small font but it takes real effort to find it.  

I resented the intentional manipulation.  Granted, the entire marketing industry is designed around manipulating the customer, but it was something about the patent, unapologetic way in which it occurred in the store that I found offensive.  

What?  No price?  Oh, shucks.  I guess that means I have to ask someone who will tell me about the product, try and upsell me, and can "conveniently" ring it up (on the ubiquitous iPad) right there so I don't have time to rethink it as I walk to the cash register. 

6.  "SGIA?"  I heard my name.  Finally.   A glance at my watch (not an Apple watch) told me that I had been in the store for my "appointment" for a full 42 minutes before actually (I presumed) getting to someone who could help me.  

The guy shook my hand as if to say "you're about to get bent over the Genius Bar" and had the balls to ask me "what can we do for you today?"  Are you shitting me?  I was so shocked that one of the Geniuses addressed me with a direct interrogatory statement and looked me in the eye while doing it rather than regurgitating what was on the iPad 6 inches in front of his face and attached to his non-dominant hand that I actually answered.   After some more iPad punching, I surrendered the phone--and $109--so he could take it behind the giant silver door.  

I think we all get the picture at this point.  As I type this my Apple experience is still not over.  The second phone is being repaired and I have to run back through the gauntlet in a bit.  I can't wait to repeat myself for an hour again.  

I suppose Tim Cook is to blame for all of this.  It is, after all, his company to run.  However, Tim Cook happens to be gay--a fact completely irrelevant to anything having to do with Apple--so I don't want to criticize him for fear of being labelled homophobic.  Rampant political correctness is perhaps the most annoying byproduct of the millennial generation.  

For the record, I could not care less if a man dressed as Joan Crawford with a Liza Minelli Fan Club card in his purse floated out from behind the Genius Bar like Snow White skipping through the forest to assist me as long as he did it competently.  I'm very gender non-specific in that way.     

I'm certain that my experience and my frustration are not unique.  Let's face it, though.  When it comes to technology the Millennial Generation runs the show and the experience at The Apple Store is the perfect metaphor for that generation and a larger statement about our entire society.  

Technology has taken away the common sense human element of simple interactions and created layers upon layers of inefficiency tantamount to what communism did to Russian society.  Instead of standing in line for bread and milk to be rationed by the government, we now stand in line waiting for iPhones and half-truths to be rationed by "Geniuses".   

Instead of standing tall to sing the Russian National Anthem at the local rally, we're all walking around humming the default ring on the iPhone.  How many times have you grabbed your pocket or your purse in search of your phone only to discover that it's someone else's phone that was ringing?  

All the more reason for me to move to Montana, write my own Constitution, and live in a buried school bus.  I wonder if I could get internet access, though.   

Steve Jobs is the Henry Ford of his time.  There's no question that Apple products and innovation have changed the world for the better.  It just hasn't done the same for the retail business.   

Well, that's it.  Share your Apple Store stories below.  I'll read them while I'm waiting on a Genius.  


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ben Episode 7: You Can’t Spell “Pontoon” without “Poon”

Hello, Readers.  Welcome back to Some Guy’s big follow up to the post I’d probably consider one of my worst of all time.  As I stated in my disclaimer, I realize that it was neither original nor clever.  To those of you who sent me messages complaining about that, I’d suggest you go back and re-read the disclaimer.  I can’t bat 1000 and it was either the pig post or nada.  I suppose you’re all entitled to your respective opinions, however.  And, for what it’s worth, I do appreciate the readership and the comments.  Let’s see if I can win back some disgruntled hearts and minds this week.    

Now, before we get to The Bachelor, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the passing of Antonin Scalia.  As an attorney and a former law student who studied his opinions and (the usually more entertaining) dissents over the years and even wrote a Law Review Comment on one of them, I have to say that I’m saddened by his passing.  He was a great intellect, an exceptionally clear, funny, articulate writer, and a very principled person who, in my opinion, remained consistent throughout his time as a Justice.  That’s not nearly as true of the majority of the people he called peers.  He died in Texas apparently doing something he enjoyed very much.  I suppose that’s just as important as anything he did while he was alive.  May he rest in peace and may his replacement be as skilled as he was.  

Thank you for humoring me.  Now, let’s get to the humor.     

Indiana.  Warsaw, to be exact.

Ben, using the time-tested Bachelor method for new geographical scene setting, walks nostalgically around town before arriving at the local diner and hugging mom and dad in order to preempt the Producer’s pick of Emily as the girl he’ll take to their swanky lake house for pre-break up drinks and hors d’oeuvres  . . . or is it whores d’oeuvres?  I don’t know.  I’m not French.   

We’ll get to this later, but his mother actually cried when trying to feign support of that relationship.  Dad did what dad’s do with tough issues like his son bringing home a juvenile dunce as a potential daughter-in-law:  he artfully ignored it in hopes it would go away.  Point Ben’s Dad.      

JoJo, Becca, Emily, Caila, Lauren B., and Amanda basque in their I’m Still Here status and wander aimlessly around town like a gaggle of drunken sailors searching for the nearest window with a red light in it.    “Warsaw the Orthopedic Capital” the sign above them reads.  I wondered if it had been the Chiropractic Capital if Becca would have stuck around.  Weird. 

Pontoon boat arrival on the water.  The weather was still as bad there as it was in Bahamas but everyone is especially anxious—a fact evidenced by their tendency to overthink everything.  Lauren B. gets first date.  She’s been the first in just about everything this season.  If she wins—and I think she’ll be a top 2—they’ve telegraphed the winner from night one. 

The best part about that date was that Harrison didn’t make the trip because there’s likely no Ritz Carlton with poolside cabanas and a 24 hour concierge in Warsaw.  Unfortunately, Ben has to announce the date by asking Lauren out in front of the rest of the girls.  That was a bit cruel.  Entertaining, but cruel.  JoJo bemoans her bad fortune in her Mermaid t-shirt.  I found her reasoning a little fishy and a bit specious.  It lacked legs. 

I’m sure you’re thrilled that I’ve gone from pig puns to mermaid metaphors in one week.  I amaze even myself at times.  Back to Ben.    

He and Lauren B. take the “this is where I X when I was growing up” tour of the town in an old truck that has been grandfathered out of the Federal seatbelt requirements. 

The other girls have the “are you ready for marriage” chat, which is apparently the only thing besides the Baker Youth Center and making the drive to Chicago to do in Warsaw.   

Lauren B. is a good sport at the sports center and the kids are sufficiently charming and not nearly as nosey or inappropriate as I would have liked them to be.  Some Kid the Producers greased with twenty bucks and unlimited one month trips to McDonald’s “conveniently” cries before Ben comes to his rescue.  Puh-leez.  The Indiana Pacers show up and a good time is had by all. 

Incidentally, from a man’s perspective there is something really special about taking a woman he loves back to his home town and giving the Clark Griswold-esque tour of his old haunts, athletic conquests (albeit exaggerated), and the place where he had his first kiss.  I don’t think that women REALLY “get” that, but I can attest that if a man does that for you, he’s into you—a lot.  Frankly, that’s a bigger deal than bringing you home to his parents.  Lauren B. may not win but as of this date, she’s in first place.  Trust me on this, would you?

They have dinner.  Talk about feelings in one of his buddy’s poorly decorated bachelor pads.  Home town here she comes.      

Date Card. 

“JoJo, let’s find love in the Windy City.”  From the befuddled look on her pretty little face it was patently clear that JoJo had idea where she’s going.   You could literally see the hamster wheel turning in her head trying to A.) figure out what the windiest city in Indiana is, and B.)  alternatively, wonder if she was going to have to fly all the way across country to Chicago even though it borders Indiana and shares Lake Michigan.  An entire generation handicapped without the use of its coveted smart phones.  Sigh . . .      

JoJo makes the arduous state-to-state drive to Chicago and simultaneously drops a “Ben and I’s relationship” before executing this season’s first Jillian-patented jump and leg wrap when she sees Ben.  I’m surprised she didn’t say “It’s Windy Here.”  I’ll go on record saying that I think she could win too.  I just think Lauren has less baggage and comes across as “nicer.”  That, in my mind, will be the difference.

Wrigley Field.  Because we know that all girls love touring sports stadiums. 

The rest of the harem fights boredom in Warsaw.  Emily gets a one on one.  She cries.  Becca, Caila, and Amanda get the Group Date.  They cry.  I got up and got another beer.  I cried.   

Wine and beer at Wrigley Field.  That was pretty cool.  Professor Ben dons his corduroy jacket and gray sweater. I’m certain he had a pipe in his shirt pocket.  Is he looking for a wife or teaching physics, for crying out loud? 

Ben “reassures” JoJo who, up until this point, has done an exceptional job keeping her emotions in sufficient check. 

“Don’t be scared of the other remaining beautiful women with less baggage that I could choose instead of you even though you’re statistically five times more likely to be eliminated than chosen by me.”

“Thanks, Ben.  That makes me feel really good about you and I’s future together.”  

JoJo gives Ben the overly vague and meaningless “certain things have happened in my past” speech and claims that she “gave 150%” in her last relationship.  Notwithstanding the fact that it is literally impossible to give more than 100%, he appears to get the point.  He’s apparently not a math professor. 

Group Date:  Marian Hills Farm

Join us for some row boating around the lake.  I think Ben would have preferred some motor boating around the living room, if you know what I mean.  That, however, is neither here nor there.  

Becca and Amanda end up alone in their own boat.  Becca drops The Notebook reference making things align in the Bachelor Nation Audience, if only for a fleeting moment. 

No one told Amanda that there is more grass than cement in Warsaw because all she packed were her lucky cork wedges.  I have to admit that I was wrong about her.  I like her.  She’s smart, funny, attractive, and probably a really nice person.  She’s not nearly as shy or shallow as I accused her of being up front.    

It took two seasons but Becca finally starts to lose it a bit.  “Three girls, one rose, one stays, two sit back in the barn and bitch.” 

Ben conducts some serious one-on-ones around the farm.  Becca worries aloud and unwittingly and sums up her issue:  she’s too non-emotional and has a difficult time expressing her feelings when she has them.  That’s probably not her fault, but it explains why Ben felt as if she “hadn’t progressed like some of the other women” kicking it around the hay bales.  They all looked fantastic on that date, by the way.

Caila gets some time and tells us that she’s moved 17 times before college and has no roots.  17 times?  Good Lord.  The Inuit people moved less than that.    

Incidentally, that desire to roam has been ingrained in her system.  That’s something she can’t get out of her blood any more than he can get the small town out of his.  She’d go nuts in Warsaw (even though he lives in Denver). 

And the Date Rose goes to . . . Amanda.  Boom.  Right in front of all of the girls.  That SUCKS.  Awkward is not sufficient to capture the mood at that moment.  As they wallow in rejection, he kicks Becca and Amanda to the curb.  At least they weren’t left red nosed and shoeless on an island in the middle of a Caribbean hurricane. 

Becca proves to us for the 4th time that she cannot pronounce the word “Frustrated” properly.  That was so fuss-trating to hear.   It took a while make Becca crack, but it happened.  “I don’t want to feel this way with someone I’m trying to fall in love with.”  Amen, Becca.  That statement clearly shows her head is on straight.  It also shows she has trust issues.  That was a long limo ride home.

Amanda is so lucky.  How lucky?  She gets to go to McDonald's for dinner and then work a drive through shift to pay for it. Are you kidding me?  I’m sure a single mother of two toddlers has never been to McDonald's before.  Trying to add some gravitas to an otherwise disappointing dinner date, Ben goes all Lady and The Tramp with his French fry.   Amanda plays along because she’s a nice person. 

Warsaw Carnival surprise. 

Festival food.  Yum.  I’m more of a giant turkey leg than a funnel cake guy.  Carnival rides.  What gives?  Yet another life risking outing for the only woman with kids two support.  Those one-toothed parolees they have operating the rides don't care about a search for love.  All they care about is a search for the half empty flask full of rye liquor in their overalls pocket.  

Amanda tells us that she’s “close to falling in love.”  Another one with her head on straight.

Lakeside Dock talk with Lauren B. and Amanda. 

They set up the “Emily’s not mature” talk.  Ben then drops the Emily has really become more “mature and self aware” since I dumped her sister talk setting up the juxtaposition that will be presented to Mom and Dad Higgins.  Maybe Ben was impressed that she didn’t use the word “fu*k” to articulate most of her feelings. 

She meets the parents.  The feign interest.  Emily is VERY 22.   Here’s about how the whole thing went:

Mom Higgins:  “What do you like?” 

Emily:  “I’d sit around and watch movies all day.”

Dad Higgins:  “What don’t you like?” 

Emily:  “I don’t like vegetables.”

Wow.  Like an 18 year old cat on its way to the vet, Emily was the only one unaware that her time was over. 

Props to Ben for attempting to spare her undeveloped feelings.  He sugar coats it. 

“I’ve been amazed  . . . but . . . “


He sends her back into the house with her head down as the remaining girls watch pregnant with anticipation from the bay window. 

“I can see [us getting married] and it sucks that you can’t,” she flounders.

“I’m sorry.  I can’t marry someone who doesn’t eat her vegetables.”  He responds.

Captain Ben gets back on the USS I’m Freaking Single and heads across the lake and she actually gets a heretofore unprecedented debrief with the girls.  They all cry.  Odds are that she’ll thank her lucky stars the second she lands back in Las Vegas as a single girl. 

Ben broods on the steps.  Harrison shows up . . . finally.  We all know that the ABC charter jet was still running at the Warsaw airport with an iced whiskey highball sweating in Harrison’s cup holder anxiously awaiting his return.  

Pep talk?  We good?  Yes?  I’m out.    


1.         Caila
2.         Lauren B. (Becca knew at that moment)
3.         JoJo
4.         Amanda


1.         Emily
2.         Becca

I’m sad to see Becca go but I get why he did it.  One, he didn’t want to climb the giant wall of her feelings in the next week and a half only to find out he didn’t want to marry her.  Two, he didn’t want a virgin going to the Fantasy Suite.  Hey, honesty is the best policy, right? 

Well, there it is.  As we head into hometowns I’m hitching my wagon to Lauren B. and JoJo.  I think Amanda is better than JoJo, but the two kids will be the deciding factor.  Caila is a distant fourth after this week.  She started well, but her star has faded. 

Enjoy the rest of your week.  Chime in @someguyinaustin on Twitter or in the comment section below.  In the meantime, if you need me I’ll be eating a giant turkey leg and a funnel cake on a pontoon boat in Indiana.   DP