by Eric Ginsburg

It’s been a hell of a month for my electronics.

Journalists don’t need a whole lot in the way of physical tools, which is convenient considering otherwise we wouldn’t be able to buy them. In its rawest form, our profession requires a notebook and a pen, but practically speaking, it’s hellish to operate without a cell phone or a computer.

For a brief time today, I had neither.

My laptop quit on me rather suddenly about a week ago, but I was en route to the Apple Store to pick it up today after repairs when the screen on my iPhone went black. I’d just left the Triad City Beat office and tried to check my phone, but it wasn’t having it. Before I could slip into some sort of meltdown or a what-are-the-chances tirade, I whipped over to the Apple Store and asked for help.

This marked my fifth time in the Friendly Center store in Greensboro since my computer walked off the job and refused to turn on. But rather than parse out all the details of this pity party, let me cut to the point; there’s one hell of a team working at that store.

It isn’t because three of my friends happen to work there — Devon, Dante and Max are super nice dudes, but none of them were assigned to help me on these follies. It’s that the Apple Store, or at least this one, manages to hire and train some of the friendliest and most empathetic employees I’ve encountered.

I struggle to think of more consistently excellent service I’ve received anywhere.

Today, Thomas became my personal hero. Though I kept my composure, I think he could sense I was on the brink of oblivion, overwhelmed by the prospect of my other fundamental tool calling it quits.

Before Thomas it was Charlie, as well as a handful of other employees who not only acted like gracious yet authoritative hosts, but who also patiently listened to my endless journalist-interview-style questions.

And that’s to say nothing of whoever fixed my phone in the back today in a matter of seconds, the folks who restored my computer to full operating order.

All five times I walked into that store, people filled most areas of the floor. Many of them, like me, were in a stressed-out state of disarray. It’s miraculous, really, when you think about how much tension and calamity is being held inside the dozens of humans crowded between those four walls, and yet how there’s a presiding calm that quietly commands the room.

It feels more like a church than a bus station, but you’d expect it to be more akin to a hospital waiting room than anything.

And it’s all thanks to people like Thomas and Charlie, my three friends and all the other employees working the floor. I can’t thank you enough.

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