Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Want A Fisher Price iPod

Growing Up in The Fisher Price Generation Has it's Drawbacks.
It Makes You Think Everything Lasts Forever
Like worried family members in a hospital waiting room, anxious to hear if a loved one is going to make it through emergency surgery, a group of us paced around the lobby of The Renegade Unlicensed iPod Repair Shop while young and grungy technicians attempted to repair our respective gadgets. We engaged in small talk, the camaraderie of desperation:

"What do you have?"
"The 30 gig,"
he said. "You?"
"The 20. Hard drive?"
I said.
"Yea, I think so."
"Good luck."
"You too."

I knew for months that my iPod was having trouble. When I turned it on, instead of the menu, I'd get the dreaded Apple icon and hear the hard drive noisily struggling to play what I wanted. I tried pretending that everything was going to be okay. But then I saw the sad face iPod icon and the website address to Apple Tech Support and I knew my gadget was gone.

In the year that I had it, my iPod had become an essential accessory. It allowed me to indulge my passion for unabridged audio books. Purchased or borrowed from the library, I spent hours downloading and listening to them in the car; making traffic jams and road trips bearable. I bought accessories for my accessory: A charger and FM transmitter for the car; microphone so I could record my shows, and of course a cute sexy little carrying case. I was heavily invested in the iPod lifestyle, and I wasn’t ready to let it go.

First, I took my iPod to the Apple Store. The kid in the wireless head set truly looked sympathetic. He said they couldn’t fix it, but he’d be happy to sell me a new one when I was ready. I wasn’t. I went to TekServe, a mac repair store in the city. Sadly, they fix everything but iPods. "Why not just buy a new one?" the non repairing sales girl said.

"Will one of the new ones work with my microphone and transmitter?"
"Uh... no," she said, her smile faltering.

I had heard stories about Apple’s epically bad customer service; the cries for help from frustrated iPod owners that went unanswered. I never thought I’d be one of them. Like a refugee I wandered the land looking for help; that's how I found myself in the Renegade Unlicensed iPod Repair Shop in the basement of a seedy souvenir store. I had officially entered the dark side of iPod ownership.

It was comforting to see that I wasn't alone. There were quite a few of us who were traumatized to suddenly find ourselves without the status symbol of the minute. We were plagued by guilt and self doubt:

'Did I do something wrong? Did I break it? Maybe I shouldn't have left in the bottom of my handbag. Can it be fixed? If not, will I have to buy a new one? Will that be cheaper? I knew I should I have bought an iRiver instead. It's not as popular as the iPod, but it's got a built in microphone and FM radio. I bet iRiver owners don't have these problems. I feel so vulnerable! What's a nice girl like me doing in a seedy little place like this? I'm right in the middle of listening to "The Cell" by Stephen King. Will I have to buy the actual book now? Oh God, how much will it cost me to get back to happy?'

"$106. 21.
"It's your mother board," said Renegade Unlicensed iPod Repair Shop Guy. "I can replace it for $106.21. You want me to fix it?"

In for a penny, in for a pound. "Yes, please."

Ten minutes later Unlicensed Repair Guy plugged in a headset, listened for a moment, then handed them to me so I could hear. My iPod was working as evidenced by the song softly playing through the ear buds: "Me So Horny" by 2 Live Crew. I was horrified. I had borrowed the Hip Hop Box Set from the library and had downloaded all the songs, but hadn't gotten around to deleting the ones I didn't want.

But my embarrassment was overshadowed by my joy: no sad faced icons, no horrible noises. My iPod was back! While the Tech Gods grinned down upon me I floated out of the Renegade Unlicensed iPod Repair Shop happy once again to be a member of polite society. And I made plans: I would buy a sturdier iPod case, finish my audio book and quietly pray that one day Fisher Price would make a digital music player.

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