an open letter to Steve Jobs, part deux

Dear Steve,

After so many years together, you still can surprise me. Usually your surprises are good. For example today your email about the new iPhone.

You know that I have been waiting for an edition of the iPhone that felt right to m

e. And

English: Apple director Steve Jobs shows iPhone
Steve Jobs

now there it is,

and at a reasonable price. Just when my current cell phone has been bugging me to the point of distraction, you save the day. I can pay $99 for the 3G iPhone, or $199 for the newer version, with 16 gb of memory. This means only one electronic instrument to drag around and more important still, it means GPS.

 

I’m always getting lost, as you well know. I hate driving new places, because I need to keep consulting the map and directions, which means pulling over or putting everybody’s wellbeing in peril. My old anxiety disorder, 98% under control these days, comes blazing to the forefront and I arrive whereever I’m going drenched in… well, you get the picture, and it isn’t pretty.

But you have handed me a solution. Or so I thought.

I realize I am not your only long-term relationship. I know you went through a commitment ceremony with AT&T some time ago, and that she takes a lot of your time and attention. That’s fine, really. I’m not the jealous type.  Alpha-male that you are, you need to spread yourself around; biology — nay, the entire universe demands it of you.  But when you let AT&T come between us, something has gone very wrong.

According to her, I have to pay $399 if I want the iPhone you wrote to say I could have for $199.

You said $99 or $199, but it turns out, once I’ve dug my way through the reservation form, that AT&T has put down her foot and won’t let you give me what you’ve promised. Because, you see, I already have an AT&T phone. Not an iPhone, just a crappy old phone that needs replacing. AT&T doesn’t care about that. She’s all about the control and power and money. According to her, I have to pay $399 if I want the iPhone you wrote to say I could have for $199.

Imagine the crushing disappointment. Imagine the sense of betrayal. When I went back to your original email, I saw that you had in fact mentioned this not-so-little fact, but at the very, very bottom in very,very small print of such a light color that it was impossible to read until I copied it to a text document. Only then did the truth come out.

You knew what AT&T was up to, and you allowed it. You enabled it.

I am so very disappointed in you. After so many years, to resort to such chicanery, just to please that demanding bitch, AT&T.

Shame on you.

iphone

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An open letter to Steve Jobs

Dear Steve,

You should understand first of all: I have no intention of filing for divorce. We’ve been together too long to even contemplate the horrific alternatives. However, I do think we need to see a counselor. Someone who can help us communicate, because I’m feeling ignored and disregarded.

In your current incarnation, you sit on my lap pretty much all day long. There’s a lot of heat between us, but you do your best to keep things cool while I’m working. Together we have written (over the years): one doctoral dissertation, a couple dozen academic articles, two full length academic books, numerous class plans, evaluations, recommendations; newspaper editorials and magazine articles and letters to the editor; short stories; seven novels currently in print (more than a million words, please note); two more forthcoming. You were with me every step of the way when I wrote Homestead, which won the PEN/Hemingway award. You are the keeper of my family history, my banking records, my daughter’s childhood memories, all my music, my entire calendar and all my contacts. If I had to estimate, I would guess that I have written or received a million emails in the last ten years.

You are indispensible. I am very happy to admit that. We make an excellent team. But recently I note you are distracted. Or should I say, more distracted than usual.

I am technically monogomous, but you are not and have never been. For many years this arrangement worked very well. On the rare occasion I had to call you at work, your assistants answered promptly and made sure that you understood what was needed. We functioned so well together that we never had the little hiccups that send other couples for advice. I have a neighbor who has had a partnership with a Windows computer for a long time, but even now I still hear her screaming obscenities in her frustration and anger.

You’ve come a long way, and I appreciate the effort that has gone into the advances. But your new little i-friends are so demanding you don’t have time for your loyal, long-time relationships. And it shows. For example: for three weeks now I have been calling you at work and talking to people at the technical assistance office.

By the way, the telephone number to call for technical assistance is well and truly hidden. I can’t believe you’d stoop to such tactics to avoid my calls.

I have spent at least three hours on hold. While I am on hold, there is the most horrendous music. You force me to listen to 80s big hair bands, and to add insult to injury, the quality of transmission is very poor. It fades in and out, full of static. Having to listen to this hold music is more than most people can bear.

I can’t believe you’d stoop to such tactics to get me off the phone once I’ve found the number.

That first call I spoke to a young man who was helpful, but curt. Very well, I understand you are busy. I explained the problem thus: Please tell Steve that the plug that inserts into my PowerBook G4 is frayed and breaking, and could he please bring me a new one on his way home? Specifically, I am talking about the end of the cord that plugs into the computer. The young man went away; I waited another twenty minutes listening to that horrendous noise you call easy listening. He came back, and at that moment we were cut off. I hoped he would call me back, or complete the work order on his own. A week later I gave up this childish idea and called again. Again I waited at least a half hour, and again (it’s painful to recall this) I was subjected to torture by Van Halen and Nirvana. The young woman who finally came on the line looked up the record of my earlier call, finished writing down whatever it was she needed to pass on to you, and promised that I would have the replacement part within a few days. All my doubts about our relationship disappeared this morning when I found the box propped against my door. You do still care! I opened it immediately, and stood there, shocked. You sent me the wrong cord/plug. I asked for the part that plugs into the computer, and you sent me the part that plugs into the wall.

Your new little i-friends are so demanding you don’t have any time for your loyal, long-time friends.

On the website there was no place to record this mistake or ask for a solution. With trembling hands I dialed the support number again. That was at about 3:30pm today. After a half hour on hold (nails on a blackboard? child’s play) I spoke to a polite young man who looked at the history of this problem and told me that the new part had been dispatched. Yes, I said. I received it this morning. It is the wrong part. You received the power cord? I received the power cord, but what I need is the other end of the cord. The end that plugs into the computer, that is what I need. After five minutes of discussion about the difference between the plug that fits into the computer and the plug that fits into the wall socket, he declared himself prepared to send me to dispatch where the problem could be rectified. I pointed out that dispatch had sent the part they had been told (erroneously) to send. Really, it made no sense to transfer me to dispatch. Could I speak to a supervisor? Please?

I was on hold for twenty minutes, waiting for dispatch. Finally I was connected to Jay, who was not from dispatch at all. He works in one of the Texas offices as a parts specialist. Jay was very helpful and polite. He promised to send me the right plug immediately. He did need my credit card number, in case I didn’t send the old part back. (And why would I want to hold onto a fraying, overheated plug?

I can’t believe you’d use such a weak excuse to get my credit card number. I can’t believe you NEED my credit card number. I have bought at least a dozen computers over the last fifteen years, as well as every other kind of hardware and a rich selection of software — and, most relevant of all: I have bought the extended Apple Care protection for every computer. Including your current incarnation, with the fraying plug-that-goes-into-the-computer. Steve, love of my technical life, you should know my credit card number by heart.)

It is now 4:41 and I just got off the phone with Jay. I hope you understand that I open this discussion out of affection, respect and appreciation. It is not my intention to hurt you, but please. Can we please have a return to the days when you didn’t keep me waiting for hours at a time? When I didn’t feel like one in a harem of a thousand? Your little i-friends are very cute, but do they write award-winning novels? Or novels of any kind at all. When people say to me that you only have twelve percent of your market, I always respond the same way: you can say the same of Mercedes-Benz. You are excellent, but you are also drifting away from me.

Would you like to make an appointment with a counselor, or should I?

Your affectionate partner Rosina Lippi

one shitty day

Things have not gone my way today.

1. There is a very smelly plumbing problem which I have tried (many times) and failed to fix. Which means I have to call a plumber. Which means research and getting recommendations, cha cha cha.

2. Somebody in this family who shall remain nameless (but it ain’t me) missed a FIFTH dental appointment. Five no-shows since January. This unnamed person (who I’d like to strangle) has now been booted out of the dentistry practice to wander the streets at his/her own peridontal peril. This person must now find a new dentist. Without my assistance, and before he/she loses every tooth in his/her head.

3. Also today: the guy who was doing garden work for me has disappeared, with about a hundred bucks of pre-paid time. So I’m out a hundred bucks, I have to find a new garden person, and the weeds, no dummies they, are already on the march, the invading army bent on world (or at least garden) domination.

5. A bill arrived. This bill had big red letters on it: SERIOUSLY OVERDUE (who writes these things, a surfer dude?). Then lots of dire warnings. Except I had never seen this bill before, so I called, using my reasonable let’s-figure-this-out voice, and I explained.

Me: I’ve got this overdue notice. You seem to think you’ve billed me for $150 in the past, and that I haven’t paid.

Accounting Person: You haven’t paid, that is correct. You are three months in arrears.

/note/ Do they force them to talk like this? /note/

Me: You’re right, I haven’t. Because this is the first such bill I’ve received.

AP: You received four other notices.

Me: I beg to differ. But wait, can I back up a minute? What exactly is it that I’m being billed for. Because there’s no indication here.

AP: Services rendered.

Me: Okay. Which services? You are a large organization. I have consulted more than one professional under your roof. And you will note, I have always paid my bills on time.

AP: So it seems.

Me: Are you doubting me, your computer, or both?

AP: If people would just pay their bills on time.

Me: I sense frustration.

AP: Pay the bill, I’ll be nicer next time.

At that point I asked for this person’s supervisor. It took about five minutes to straighten it out, and it turned out that I did owe them about fifty bucks. I volunteered to pay immediately by credit card, and before I could stop her, the supervisor transfered me back to the SAME AP.

6. And one more, just for fun: My computer is making Noises. Off and on, clicking/grinding noises from deep inside its shiny little heart. I did a full backup but every time I type a page I wonder if I’ll ever see it again.

My solution to this problem? New computer. Load ‘er up with RAM and dual processors and all kinds of goodies, damn the price, full speed ahead. But the Mathematician, the Voice of Reason, the Cautious One, the Patient one (more patient than I am, anyway) thinks I should wait. Just a day, to see what happens.

Good and fine. But I won’t be sleeping much.

Here’s an idea I had. What if I got in touch with Steve Jobs old buddy old pal, and suggested that he give me a top of the line, fully decked out laptop. He can engrave something clever on the lid so people see that (1) I am an author using a mac; (2) Everything I have in print (more than a million words) was created on a mac; (3) that he, Steve Jobs, is a patron of the arts and generous, to boot. heck, I’ll even put one of those MADE WITH A MAC icons on the darn book jacket.

Now I’m going back to work.