The Circles of Apple Store Hell – A Cautionary Tale

In a moment of supreme idiocy, I booked an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar for a borked phone on a Saturday. A Saturday at 3:30, to be precise. A Saturday at 3:30 in the afternoon in one of four or five Apple stores in the entire state. Huddled in the teeming masses, waiting to be assisted, all I could think was, “This must be Hell.” The crush and flow of store patrons from back to front made me wish that Dante could be resurrected and properly organize the circles of Absolute Hell in the Apple Store. But he’s dead, so I’ll try my best to fill in for him.

Imagine if you will, the brightly lit Apple store. Minimalist art and gentle fonts beckon you in, calming you with the blonde-colored wood so favored by young college students and IKEA. Is that The Lumineers playing? You recognize the song because you’ve heard it on the radio. You’ve never heard any of their other songs but you know you like this one. “Ho, hey!” whirls wistfully through the room.

Welcome to the first circle of Apple Store Hell. In this sphere, your greatest sin is curiosity. You can still breathe the fresh, conditioned air of the mall. You could retreat and be back in the hustle and bustle of an Apple product-free world. You could escape, if you wanted, but you’re drawn in inexplicably.

With that first hesitant step, you have fallen into the second circle of Apple Store Hell. Salespeople in bright shirts notice you but do not yet approach. They circle, with watchful eyes, ready to pounce with a smile. But their claws are not in you yet. And the colorful rack of new iPods looks so fun! Is that green? Green is your favorite color! You walk towards the table, sidestepping a ‘tween taking selfies on a display iPod. The screen is so bright; so much brighter than your older mp3 player. And here is your second sin–desire. “I should replace my iPod,” you think to yourself. “I mean, it’s getting old. And I just got this fat tax refund!”

You continue down the long table taking in the colors, mentally calculating the prices. Then the sharp scent of sweat and chaos touch your nose. This is a warning. You’re descending into the third circle of Apple Store Hell and there’s no turning back as you’ve already performed your third sin–calculation. A decision has been made in the back of your head, though you haven’t quite accepted it yet. “I’m just considering,” you tell yourself, “I mean I might not actually buy anything.”

You hear a rustling next to you. There’s no escaping now, as a friendly Apple salesperson comes up and asks you brightly, “Can I help you?” You smile back. The Matrix has you, Neo. “I’m just looking around,” you try to reply, but both you and the salesperson know that’s a lie. “That’s totally understandable,” the salesperson replies. “Let me tell you all about the features of our newest iPod.” Who knew that returning friendliness with friendliness was a sin? It is in the fourth circle of Apple Store Hell.

And now you are falling, falling quickly into Hell–too quickly to know how far down you are until, with a thud, you hit the deepest level of Apple store Hell.  You don’t know it’s happened; everything is so warm and shiny and welcoming. You’re smiling widely and handing your credit card over, which the salesperson quickly swipes through a machine on an iTouch. (Is there nothing technology can’t do?)

Welcome to Hell, darling.

You can contact Sarah, the author of this post, at

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