I have no concept of which day of the week it is. People who are at work are not people talking to me. Messages I need to respond to include deadlines I've let slip and friends I've rerouted in an attempt to meet deadlines before they are gone. I have forgotten a transcription, I missed a friend's performance, I requested a personal information session after the open event I was registered to attend. I plow on with making plans and don't look back because I forget about them.
Someone asks me how I am doing and I say all I can see is my own calendar.
At the Apple store in Soho I am getting a phone repaired, but it is not mine. To finish fixing the phone and save the information on the defunct device, I am manually sending contacts and files one by one to a laptop. I am simultaneously on my own phone sending responses and writing drafts one by one. I am sitting there as customers with issues come to be serviced by a Genius in a red shirt until one of them approaches me cautiously and I start to believe that I am at a doctor's office. Is her hand on my shoulder? Hovering on my shoulder? Is that concern on her face or anger? "Are you alright?" I am asked, and I feel as though the fluorescent lights are the hallway of a hospital. I feel my face immediately flush hot and red. I assure this woman with the iPad - or is it a medical clipboard - that I am fine, that I'm just working. "Okay, because you've been here for four hours already." She says this without changing the concern on her face. Her eyebrows do not move.
I feel my face flush again. It is hot in here. I take off both my denim jackets. I am still wearing a sweater.
I tell the woman I know how long I have been here.
I tell the woman I can move if it is a problem.
I do not look at the other people sitting around me, waiting for their turn, turning to look at me in the meantime. Four hours already.
Finally she laughs, or smiles. "You're fine!" I don't know why she has come over to me.
Don't try to fix what is not broken.
Is this Apple Soho or is this a hospital waiting room? I met the man assigned to help me at 12:30pm and he tells me his shift does not end until 9:30 that night. Instead of scrubs he is wearing a red shirt. Instead of discussing my feelings we are discussing the cleanliness of not relying on apps.
Authority walks around in red shirts. I am sitting at the far end of the wing, at the end of a table. I watch the red shirts find the names they are calling, greeting their broken and lost come to be saved. The red shirts are warm and sit down close, they are relaxed and unhurried. "So tell me what's going on," they say. "What seems to be the problem?" I listen as the patients list their symptoms, explain what they have or have not done. Meanwhile I am working and simultaneously working on myself. "I'll check in with you before your technician is ready," the red shirts say before another red shirt takes their place. Their greeting comes with diagnosis and prognosis and treatment and sometimes no cure. The terminal are upset. The red shirts do their best to advise on the next steps but it is usually starting at $300.
I do not finish my work but change locations.
I consider whether it is the fluorescent lights of the Apple store that trigger a return to sickly feelings, unsavory and being watched, being whispered about into a handsfree microphone. "That one." The architecture of an Apple store was originally inspired by the design of a hotel lobby, an inviting space for anonymous service and in-between leisures. The architecture here is grand but like a medical treatment wing with a famous donor.
I tell the staff that I feel safe here in the store. "That's good," they assure me. "We like to hear that."