Quality control

January 24,2012
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

I had to make a trip to my local Apple store yesterday, with both kids in tow. They had the day off from school (teacher workday) and Scott took them to an admissions fair in the morning. When I was done with my classes for the day, I rearranged my office hours and met up with him in the parking lot outside his building.

Just like the old days. I like it when that happens; when I find myself slipping back into a routine that had once been so ingrained in me, and so familiar. We don't often have a reason to swap the kid-baton in a parking lot these days, but when we do it still evokes preschool and sippy cups and listening to The Philadelphia Chickens on CD on the way home.

I took the kids to the Apple store with me on our way home. My iPod won't let me play or sync my music library anymore, and I can't figure out why.  I tried to get it fixed on Friday, but despite the fact that I had made an appointment, the store was so crowded, and the genius Apple people so busy, that I had to leave before my appointment, just so I could make it to T.'s carpool line in time.

I told the kids about the set-back on Friday, over dinner. There is little L. likes to talk about more than Apple, and Steve Jobs, and quality control problems. But that night he was distracted, so he listened for a bit and then headed off to the office for his computer time. But yesterday, his belly full of his favorite pizza, he was happy to talk on and on about Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs, apparently, didn't wear deodorant.

He yelled a lot at people.

His biological parents made his adoptive parents sign a document promising they would send him to college.

He dropped out of college, but stayed on campus to take the classes he really wanted to take.

He once flew to India to meet someone, found out that man had died, and then flew back home without even bothering to stay and do some sightseeing.

He was a strict vegetarian and sometimes ate nothing but cereal for weeks on end (Um, I asked L. Sound like anyone you know?)

He was the quality control department at Apple, L. insisted.

Well, I corrected. I think he had people running it for him.

No! L. insisted. He WAS the entire quality control department, no doubt about it.

I let it go, and T. and I listened to more fun facts about Steve Jobs until we arrived at the Apple store, just in time for my appointment. Despite the fact that it was 12:40 on a Monday, the store was packed, and we ended up waiting 40 minutes before a genius guy called us over. L. had been getting more and more frustrated by the minute, muttering things about quality control, and trying to get me to flag down every blue-shirted Apple guy we saw (there were many).

The genius guy fiddled with my iPod, deleted the entire contents, and told me to re-sync at home. "It should be fine," he said confidently.

It wasn't. I spent an hour trying to figure it out on my own. I fumed. L. hovered, concerned. T. patted me on my arm.

"I can't believe that genius guy couldn't fix it," I said. 

"What did you expect, Mama?" L. said. "Steve Jobs DIED. Quality control is over!"