Out of the Blue: There may be no way out of the Apple vortex

Now that holiday shopping is in full throttle, it's time to ask that computer-age old question: Just how many Apple products does a household need?

If you are like me, you have Apple desktops, laptops, iPads, iPhones, and various generations of iPods you never use. Plus Apple TV and Apple routers. It's an abusive relationship I can't get out of. I'm the low self-esteem guy who gets degraded and abused, yet can't pursue another girl because when it's good it's good, and when it's bad, well, its still good enough for me.

I had one such experience recently when I sought to figure out why my just-over-a-year-old iPhone 4S could no longer hold a battery charge. I routinely closed all my apps, and even turned off those notorious juice suckers, WiFi and Bluetooth. Nothing worked. I became the cord-carrying guy always desperate for the next socket.

Then one day at physical therapy I met some Laguna High School girls talking Instagram techniques. Ahh, young techies. I asked if they knew how to overcome battery issues and they suggested I restore the whole system. Only when I did I accidentally upgraded my operating system to iOS 7. And as everyone with an iPhone4 knows, iOS 7 is actually an Apple virus that makes your 4 so buggy you are left with no choice but to upgrade to the 5.

Now I had little battery life and tons of bugs. I made several trips to the dreaded Apple store and asked if I could remove iOS 7 and return to my old operating system. Nope, irreversible. And yet when we discovered it didn't fix the battery problem, and that I was unfortunately just past the one-year warranty, the only solution Apple offered was a discount on an upgraded 5. The same discount anyone would get if they signed a two-year service contract.

"Wait, are you blaming the defective battery on me?" I asked.

"Not at all," the unkempt, tatted, unfailingly polite punk, I mean, Apple employee answered. "But you are past the warranty, so all we can do is offer you a new phone at a discounted price. But you can trade in your 4G and apply it to the purchase."

"How much do I get?" I asked.

"That depends on the condition," said the clerk. He took the phone and surreptitiously inspected the ports with his back turned to me. Then he walked it over to another guy who examined it with what looked like an anal probe.

"We can't offer you anything, there's water damage," said the returning worm, I mean, clerk.

"What?! But it works just fine!" I argued. The guy just shrugged.

I stormed out the store muttering for all to hear that the company had "lost its edge since Steve Jobs died. After all, Google is inventing driverless cars, Amazon drones to deliver packages, and Elon Musk the hyperloop. What's Apple got? A new operating system? WooWoo!" I said as they escorted me out. This is a company that could take lessons in customer service from the French.

I'd show them. I was mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. I went straight to my AT&T; store, traded my iPhone in for $200 (no, they never looked), and got the stunning new Galaxy S4 — for free. I'd tell anyone who listened that we should all migrate to Android and teach a lesson about customer relationship marketing to Apple.

I loved my giant new phone, even though it more closely resembled a small tablet. I loved the large screen, the 13 megapixel camera, and since it's a Google operating system, I knew I could learn it in no time.

I took it away with me over the Thanksgiving holiday, and quickly discovered the phone was too big to operate with one hand, the preferred method when texting while driving. Yet the keyboard actually seemed smaller than an Apple. Or at least it seemed that way because I made so many typos.

My contacts didn't integrate well. I couldn't figure out how to arrange my screens the way I wanted. The whole system seemed just a little… gauche and inelegant. I knew I could eventually learn it but… I wanted my iPhone back! Desperately.

It began to consume me until I could ignore it no more. I knew Apple once again owned me but it didn't matter. Upon my return I went straight to AT&T; and asked to trade it back. The salesman tried to dissuade me, telling me he had switched as well and hated his Samsung the first few weeks. But he stayed the course, and swore that when he finally got it, Android was way better than Apple.

"That's all well and good for you sonny, but you're about 20 years younger than me, so your capacity to process every feature of the phone is well beyond my bandwidth, and, well, you probably have little else to do," I protested.

He persisted, but my hands got clammy and I began to tremble. "Just give me the damn phone and piss off!" I demanded. He quickly handed it to me.

I've never done heroin, but I imagine getting a fix is something like the feeling I experienced once I got my hands on my new iPhone 5. I was warm and relaxed, aglow with the thrall of the lighter weight, the longer screen, and how well iOS 7 worked. I am once again firmly sucking at the teat of Apple, and I don't even care how humiliating it is.

BILLY FRIED is the chief paddling officer of La Vida Laguna and member of the board of Transition Laguna. He can be reached at billy@lavidalaguna.com.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World