So I walk into the Apple Store this afternoon and, of course, the place is packed.  There are about two dozen “geniuses” having their brilliance tested by roughly four times as many customers.  I want to get in and out as quickly as possible so I approach one of the red-shirts (I suspect it’s a seasonal thing) and tell him I’d like to purchase some iTunes gift certificates.  “Should I just grab them off the wall?”I ask, pointing to the display across the room.  “No, just line up over there,”he says, motioning over to the daunting customer service queue behind me.  “It won’t be long.”

This, it turns out, is the first of two lies he tells me on this day.

And so, I line up.  And wait.  And wait.  The people ahead of me seem to be in a hurry – up until it’s their turn at the till, at which point they’re like some kid who has finally reached the spinning tea cup ride. They giggle and laugh and joke with the staff, considering this, pondering over that.  It is clearly THEIR moment and, after waiting twenty minutes for service, they’ll be damned if they don’t make the most of this opportunity.  Eventually, the guy in front of me finishes regaling us all with the meandering tale of his net-savvy nephew. provides the following two definitions for the word “anecdote”: 1. a short account of a particular incident or event, especially of an interesting or amusing nature.  2. a short, obscure historical or biographical account.  In this case, it was the latter.

And, finally, it was my turn.  I stepped up and requested an iTunes gift card.  The genius pointed to the display across the room (something, I needn’t remind you, I’d done some twenty minutes earlier) and informed me that I would have to go over there and select one before returning to pay for my purchase.  “That’s what I initially assumed,”I said, “but that genius over there told me to come here instead.”

“No,”she said, presumably correcting me when, in reality, it was her fellow genius she was correcting.  “This is just for in-store gift cards.  iTune gift cards are over there.”

Sure, I could have argued the point but, instead, I sighed and threw my hands up in mock surrender.  She was still yammering on when I walked out of the store.

There will be no iTune gift cards under the tree this year.


I remember back when my buddy Carl used to refer to this show as “the fastest hour on television”.  This season, however, it’s been a ponderous affair, chock full o the most unlikable and annoying participants to ever race.  The teams in this weekend’s two hour finale come down to: 1. the thieves, 2. the other thieves, 3. the backstabbing pretty boys, and 4. the idiot goat farmers.  Who are you rooting for? The two sisters or the country bumpkin and his girlfriend who stole money from two other contestants, one of who was grieving for his sick father?  The lunkheads who targeted their supposed “friends” with a U-Turn, effectively eliminating a team that was running well behind them?  Or the simple goat farmers, one of who complains at length about his twisted ankle – and then volunteers for the ensuing tennis challenge where he spends a significant portion of the time sitting on his ass, complaining about – guess what? – his twisted ankle!

Sitting through yet another season of this show is like seeing a magician’s act one too many time.  After a while, you can’t help but see through the facade.   It’s gotten to the point where I can correctly predict when those supposedly random “non-elimination legs” will magically appear (hint: contestants the production clearly find more interesting seem to luck out with a disproportionate amount of reprieves).

Perhaps most annoying of all is The U-Turn which allows one of the lead teams to force a trailing team to go back and complete a second task, all but eliminating them from contention.  In a competition that appears to put everyone on equal footing (and appearances can be deceiving), it’s an annoying and palpably unfair disadvantage.

This entire season has simply left a bad taste in my mouth.

“Maybe next year, we don’t watch,”suggested Akemi.

Reruns of Modern Family, here we come!


Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

Oh, you have!  Never mind then.

36 thoughts on “December 6, 2012: Complain complain complain!

  1. You can order iTunes gift cards on-line. I’d mind my business or cheer you for voting down those geniuses with your dollars. But that’s totally what I want for Christmas so it must be what everyone wants.

  2. You can buy iTunes cards at most grocery stores now, Mr. M. I think they even have them at Target or Wal-Mart here, at least. No need to wait through that long line. I bought a pack of them at Sam’s for a few dollars less.

    2Cats: My hubby built that cat tower when Harry (big cat) was younger. Hubby wants to build a bigger one but he hasn’t had the time. The little cat, Sammy has adopted Harry for his mom (or maybe a heating pad). We call Sammy “The tumor” because he always manages to be attached to Harry in some way.
    Your cat is so pretty. He still looks like a youngster. Is he a Kitler? I couldn’t tell from that angle.

    Ponytail: Thanks for the link! Jelly acted just like I pictured it.

    Akemi’s The cookie pictures looked so good (the chocolate ones). Were those truffle cookies?

  3. 1. Technology has not simplified our lives, instead it’s complicated it. According to some reports, it’s also causing people to be increasingly impatient and aggravated. As I decrease the amount of technology in my life (including the amount of time I spend online), I find that I am becoming more patient and content, and once again I have found the time to stop and smell the roses…OH, and to chit chat with the first available sales clerk about my day! Joey, you would HATE standing behind me in line! 😈

    2. Reality TV, Joe? Really?? I have no sympathy, at all…you get what you deserve.

    3. Forget the NFL. You’re Italian, Joe…arencha supposed to be playing with your bocce balls, or something? 😉


  4. I would have just gone to the local store (here: Wal-Mart, Target, any grocery store, drug store) to get a gift card. Is it different in Canada?

  5. i have to agree with most of what you said about the amazing race. for me it’s not as fun as it used to be to watch. but yet i do. because there’s so little on TV these days that i care to watch.

  6. Haha, yes for sanity reasons never ever step in the apple store unless you have an appointment to get something replaced.
    You know you can order anything online and often with free shipping, right?
    Shoppers carries a ton of gift cards, from spas, Keg to iTunes.

  7. OMG, I have so been there and done that. Went into an AT&T store to upgrade my phone for free. You exactly described my tortureous time there, except I never got to the sales person. I gave up and just left after waiting about 20 minutes (making the people behind me in line very happy). It was ridiculous! I was later (that same day) in a Sam’s Club store and passed by a booth where they had different brand’s phones. Usually I avert my eyes and don’t look at the salespeople because they always look like they want to sell you something and want to lure you over there. But this time I thought…hmmmm…and decided to stop and ask. Sure enough she fixed me right up with 2 new upgraded AT&T phones for free. Fast, easy, no waiting. Thanks Sams!

  8. Give the NFL another chance. 🙂 As Cheryl said, it’s your blog, complain away.

  9. You wouldn’t catch me in an Apple store this time of year for a million bucks. As for the Amazing race, I am reduced to cheering the goat farmers. Not that I particularly like them, but they have persevered despite themselves, and as you say, I can’t stomach the thought of the thieves winning. That was a new low for this show, and I do hope they address the issue in the future. At least Survivor is shaping up to be a bit more interesting. I’m hoping Denise can hold out for the win, though at this point I’m satisfied with anyone but Abi winning. As for the NFL, let’s see what you say come Superbowl time. Though while we’re at it, how about the proposed alterations to the kickoff? 4th and 15…oy vey.

  10. @Joe:

    Sure, I could have argued the point but, instead, I sighed and threw my hands up in mock surrender. She was still yammering on when I walked out of the store.

    I usually end up having to vote with my feet at least three or four times a year. The latest time was at a video game store where the woman in front of me (at the checkout) decided that instead of selecting the games from the shelves and bringing them to the checkout to buy them, she would just take her list to the checkout clerk and ask them to find the games (of course, there was only one person on checkout at the time).

    So when she started with the first game, I was a little annoyed, but thought it should still be quick…then she went on to game 2 and then after that, game 3…and then she started asking questions about games that weren’t on her list. Twenty minutes later, I was still standing there and she was up to five games with no sign of stopping.

    I finally had to leave to leave to keep a doctor’s appointment, so I put my one game down on the counter (a birthday present for my son David), and left. The clerk was immediately apologetic, promising to try to hurry things up, but I told him I had an appointment to keep and couldn’t wait (which was true).

    Since it wasn’t the clerk’s fault, I did go back later and buy the game, but the experience has put me off going anywhere near a specialty store this Christmas season…I’ll do the rest of my shopping online and visit the brick & mortars in January.

    On an unrelated note, I found yesterday that I have to go to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. Frankly, CES is not fun for me. I end up doing booth duty from 8am to 8pm and then out entertaining customers until midnight and then up at 6am to do it all again. It’s an exhausting schedule.

    My bright spot this year? I used your blog as a restaurant guide to Vegas and I’ve booked Michael Mina for one of my customer dinners. With a short list of restaurants from your blog, I’m good to go for the rest of the dinners as well. So thanks, Joe, for the great restaurant and trip posts…you’re making my CES saga bearable!

    Light commenting over the next few days due to Christmas parties and Barb’s birthday on Sunday.

  11. Speaking of The Amazing Race, I was amazed how they never hit Natalie and Nadiya with a penalty for stealing James and Abbas money, although they found it on the side, they never once made the effort to ask who it belonged too and even said on camera that they think it was James and Abbas, and seemed happy to have the money, from a moral standpoint you have to wonder why they didn’t hit them with a time penalty for being thieves

    And of course the Natalie and Nadiya team was just plain irritating earlier on in the season with the ‘Twinny, come on twinny yay twinny twinny, yay twinny’ almost endlessly, done for effect no doubt as the camera was on them, they came across as obnoxious lol. Made me laugh when they called the Abbie and Ryan team obnoxious for criticising them haha.

    .On your U turn point Joe, as the race was on its 9th leg, and Abbie and Ryan had a decent track record prior(1st twice, 2nd three times, 4th 3 times), the Uturn in leg 9 was quite smart, at least in my opinion. They’re racing for a million dollars, the time for friendship at that point is over, not to mention Abbie and Ryan were 1st on the ‘double your money leg’ so would be racing for 2 million had they survived that leg.

    Anyway, I had a pretty sucky 24 hours, ended up with food poisoning somehow, and I really don’t know how, and as a result crippling stomach pain/sickness that kept me awake and feeling crappy all night, symptoms eased after a while and i managed to get a few hours sleep but gosh, I haven’t had something like this before in years. My stomach still feels in pieces haha ugh

  12. Joe and my apologies to the proper origins of the Rosti:

    Have you considered the brand “Simply Potatoes?” These are in safeways and other large supermarkets at least in the US. Already shreded raw potatoes? Green bag and labelled Hash Browns. Not with seasoning…just the potatoes. Then you could squeeze excess moisture out easily since it is already shreded.

  13. Never watched The Amazing Race but the snippets I’ve accidentally seen confirm to me that it’s just a show about whining people. If I wanted to watch a bunch of people whining I’d go to my office Christmas party.

    I keep toying around in my brain with a snippet of an idea for a fly-on-the-wall style mockumentary that shows the behind the scenes of a TV talent show. The production meetings before shooting starts where they go through potential contestants and pick who will win before a note has even been sung. The drama when the phone vote picks some talented loser that the producer hates so they decide to have a “judges decision” sing-off episode to eliminate him (nothing means ratings more than having the audience favourite in peril!). The private investigator that digs into the past of the contestants and “leaks” damning stories to the press. The scripted and pre-arranged “walk-out” and subsequent “sacking” of one of the judges due to “creative differences” with the head judge. The “emotional” “reunion” and “reinstatement” of said judge when they realise it was all just a “big mixup”.

    I think it would be humorous and enlightening in equal measures.

  14. I’m still rooting for the Chip and Dales. You’ve written about Survivor before, and how certain people deserve to win because they were strategic. Doing what you can to replace a strong team that wants it with a couple of lazy goat farmers in the final four is definitely a strategic move.

    There’s always Canadian Amazing Race next Summer! Maybe that’ll be… Better. Or worse, much worse.

  15. The production of Amazing Race made a huge mistake with Natalie and Nadiya. They should have been sent home for stealing. Many people are unhappy with this.

  16. I actually rather enjoying this season of TAR, but I’m not sure how’s it’s different from recent seasons which I didn’t care for as much. The only team left I don’t like is the twinnies, so hopefully they don’t win. My preferred team is the Chippendales guys – they seem like nice fellows and most importantly they seem to be really enjoying the experience of racing and always treat each other well. Even though he was a bit of a nit, I did regret the loss of Abbie and Ryan, even if it’s just because they were a foil for the obnoxious twinnies. (Although, in a post-show interview, they both seem very self-aware and acknowledge that at times they weren’t their best.)

    I’m actually more annoyed at Survivor lately. Maybe I’ve just seen too many editions of this show, but I can now tell what’s going to happen almost every episode from about the 1/2 hour mark. The editing almost always gives away the bootee, and the music always gives away who’s about to win a competition. I watch more out of habit now than anything.

  17. We get our iTunes gift cards from Target. That reminds me–older son wants those for his birthday in a few weeks. Can’t believe I’m about to have a 16 yo. Driving, here we come!!!!

    I feel so old. 🙂 Especially today (12/7) since it’s my birthday. And you know what, no one ever has a problem remembering it because of the historical significance. I’ve already heard from people so far today that I haven’t heard from in months.

    Hope everyone has a great day!!!!

  18. Wish we could edit our replies. muttergrumble

    Just wanted to add that the ep of The Amazing Race is the only one I’ve watched this season, and only watched it because they were at the tennis court in Manacor. Being a big tennis fan and a fan of Rafael Nadal, who lives in Manacor, I had to watch. Yeah, I know. The only thing the show had to do with Rafa was that they were in Manacor. Obsessed fan here, okay? (I’d be more obsessive if it had something to do with Switzerland and Roger Federer.) Anyway, that whiny goat herder or whatever he is was awful. Yet he didn’t move on the court like he had a sprained ankle. Faker! Aughh The show used to be pretty good. Now it’s only good for the scenery.

  19. Alisa Russell: Happy Birthday!!!!! Good luck with your son driving. My son started driving last year. Nerve-racking……

  20. Good for you, with respect to the Apple store situation. I absolutely HATE going in there. It’s always a “let’s see who’s got the craziest, most ironic/artisanal facial hair and piercings” hipster-fest with all those damn “geniuses”. We get it, you’re cool and yet, not somehow. At some point, I’ll have to share my first experience in one with you where a “genius” kept going back to the back for the answers to the questions I had. Reminds me of the Human CentiPad episode of South Park. Classic.

    Customer service is a lost art these days and I’ve left establishments on that principle alone. I no longer shop or dine at certain places simply because they either employ nothing but morons and/or have zero customer service skills. My time is too valuable to me to have it wasted by some dolt straight out of the movie Idiocracy. Sadly, some of these businesses are so large, and the employees so uncaring, that my obstinance will go unnoticed and unreported. In fact, the employees usually react as if there’s something wrong with ME, and they have no idea what’s really happening.

    Sad state of affairs……

    -Mike A.

  21. @Alisa Russell: Happy Birthday! Feel old when your kids are (gulp) 30 and 33, like mine. 🙂 Hope you enjoy your day!

  22. Well, it’s a tough life and that’s for sure but did you see what your friends at Beta5 have created for the Christmas season? Perhaps you and Akemi could buy one! A very Canadian Christmas activity. 🙂 You could segue it into a walk through the lovely Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt Regency. I love Vancouver in December…even with the rain!

  23. I watch Amazing Race for the sights of the country, and the challenges are always related to the culture. The racers are really secondary to me, When she found the money, she did try to give it back but the sister told her not to, as it was a race. then the couple told her the same thing. I could tell she felt bad, but went along with it. I think competition and morality don’t always go together. I wonder why they didn’t get a penelty since another season a team got it for moving someone’s bag with passport in it? Maybe because they left it? I wonder. Personally I would have given it back, as I would be afraid of getting the penelty and because I don’t keep things I know belong to somebody else.

  24. @Alisa Russell~~ Happy Birthday to you!!
    Don’t watch amazing or any reality shows that I can think of, too much drama, the 1/2 hour sitcoms sometimes hold my attention. This time of year is busy and stressful, so take lots of cookie breaks.

  25. Why did you ask where to buy a gift card if it was obvious they were on the wall? That was your first mistake. I don’t want to be snarky, but — you’ve bought gift cards before, right? It’s not something you even need to ask for help with. I just went to the local grocery store, grabbed some gift cards from their turny rack thing (including one for iTunes), and checked out. Easy. I think you were making it too complicated.

    As for the Amazing Race, I think I might have watched a few minutes back when it was still new. Reality TV isn’t my thing. This wasn’t helped by having worked in that field for a couple years and seeing even more than is obvious to the viewer just how ‘real’ it is. I prefer scripted.

  26. Here in the US you can buy just about any gift certificate including ITunes in the grocery store.

    @Alisha Russell Belated happy birthday.

  27. Don’t recall if BC has Safeway, but usually every few weeks, they have itunes gift cards for 20% off….

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