After my computer crashed the other day, I found myself spending a lot of time at the Apple store, The Temple of Delightful Technology. I made an appointment through a friend's computer since mine wasn't working. The appointment was for Saturday at 11:15 am, which turned out to be during a downpour, and very stressful because you cannot be late or you don't get to see the wizard. I can't remember the last time it was so important to be on time, maybe never. I parked illegally right by the entrance to the mall and hauled in an armload of hardware. The store was wall-to-wall people as I made my way to the Genius Bar and saw my name on the overhead screen. I was next in line which gave me a tremendous feeling of relief that I had made it and smugness that I was going to see the wizard. My name was called, and Norm was my genius. He moved at lightening speed plugging in my hard-drive and various components, chatting, being calm and friendly along the way. As I was there for over an hour, I witnessed the movie that someone needs to make.
There were at least 8 geniuses behind the bar, solving people's crisis with the smooth and debonair flair of teenaged, tattooed James Bonds. (I think you have to be 17 to work there.) This IS the new frontier, where two paradigms meet. The young agile technologically natural, ego-free problem solvers and the older technologically challenged old cowboys straddling up for some relief. The look of desperation of older men who had of course "done all the trouble-shooting" before resorting to coming and the housewife who needed the instructions repeated at least four times by her very patient genius are all followed by overwhelming gratitude when the problem is solved. The genius becomes the hero of the day, every ten minutes! The bar is the shore of the old and new world, being met not with war or hostility, but with kindness, grace and some serious smartness.
I think the real genius is the Apple culture. This scene exists wherever there is an Apple store. The one in New York City truly is a glass temple where one thousand miracles must occur on a daily basis. I wonder how many people have met and fallen in love in an Apple store? Whoever created this job called "the genius" is a genius. The self-esteem, the spirit of cooperation, the presence required, the instantaneous feedback of really helping someone and the non-gender based manners are intoxicating. At first I thought, well these people are going to have a hard time going out into the real world after this and finding a real job that is this fulfilling. Then I realized that thought was old paradigm thinking. This IS the new paradigm for jobs!