My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day . . . and how wonderful it was

2013-12-17 — Good Characters (Leave a message)

(with apologies to Judith Viorst)

By Andy Chuang

Sometimes I wake up happy. Sometimes I wake up feeling grumpy. Yesterday I woke up late and in a cloudy mood.

However, it didn’t take me long to feel more positive because I had a plan to meet up with friends for lunch.

But I was on the road for only a few minutes and already I was annoyed. I saw two men driving badly, at different locations. It just happened both were in F-150 trucks. They were cutting people off and driving their trucks like sports cars. I also saw two women driving distractedly. They were both texting and holding up traffic briefly, not realizing it was their turn to go.

Chinese word for driving badly

I used to have an F-150 truck and would love to have one again. I think driving a big truck makes some people feel more powerful and above the law. It’s true especially when one has nothing else to show off.

Chinese word for distracted

Lunch was great. Well, the food was just okay, but meeting up with good friends and having edifying conversation was great.

Chinese word for genius

After lunch, I headed for an appointment at the Apple Store to see the “Genius.” My iPhone’s battery had been draining much faster than it used to for a while, but in the last few days I could see the percentage going down almost by the minute.

A friend told me he just had his iPhone battery replaced for free because a Genius said it was defective. I’ve had my iPhone for over a year and it’s out of warranty, but I thought if my friend could get his battery replaced for free, maybe I could too.

Chinese word for happy

So I was in a better mood driving to the Apple Store. When I thought about the bad drivers I had observed in the morning, I realized that I was ignoring other positive things around me. So I started to pay attention to drivers who yielded or waited for pedestrians. I saw beautiful trees and colorful leaves still on the trees. I saw moms walking with their children. There were still plenty of bad drivers, but just by switching my attention to positive things, my mood was better and my stress was gone. It was if Louis Armstrong’s “It’s A Beautiful World” was playing in my head.

Chinese word for battery

At the Apple Store the Genius told me my battery was at 40% capacity and should be replaced. But it was out of warranty and I have to pay $79.

Chinese word for quality

I was not happy to hear that I have to pay to replace a battery that’s barely a year old. Doesn’t Apple say the battery normally loses 20% of its capacity in two years? And in just a bit over a year mine is down to 40%? Do I have to pay for that? Where is the quality?

Chinese word for spending money

I had to make a decision right there. Should I sell the 5 and buy a 5s because I don’t want to put money into a phone that I’m only going to keep for 10 more months before upgrading to 6? But then I wouldn’t feel right selling a phone knowing its battery is only at 40% capacity. So I “bite the battery” and spend the money.

Chinese word for waiting

The “Genius” said it would take 30-minutes. While I was waiting, I saw another customer with the same battery issue. Her Genius told her it would cost her nothing to replace the battery. I don’t know how long she had the phone. Her Genius managed to replace the battery in 10 or 15 minutes. I wondered if “my” “Genius” was new or just slow. I waited for over an hour before another Genius asked me how I was doing. When I told him I was waiting for my battery to be replaced, he checked and said, “Oh, sorry, we didn’t know you were still waiting. Normally people shop in the mall and come back and ask us.” I guess he was trying to be helpful or make me feel better, but I thought that was a stupid excuse! I was now upset. I had been sitting there the whole time. The “Genius” never came back! Why was I treated differently from the other customer?

Chinese word for upset

To add insult to injury, the fixed phone had practically the same battery percentage: 57% before replacement and 56% after. My mind immediately went to the worst: This guy charged me money but didn’t even fix the phone! I had no way to verify whether the battery had actually been replaced.

Chinese word for idiot

I felt the “Genius,” who I considered an idiot, didn’t really care. He took the phone in and never came back. Vanished! I was left waiting and waiting. It was such a bad experience.

Chinese word for choice

This morning I woke up and thought about choices and consequences I had chosen. I wasn’t happy about paying for a new battery but it was the policy. So my choice to be unhappy didn’t accomplish anything. Not only did I lose money, I ended up losing my calm too. I could have chosen to be more grateful that I got an appointment the afternoon I wanted and that my phone was repaired without complications. Besides, I played with some demo apps and learned a few new things. And I haven’t noticed the excessive battery drain today, so my suspicion was probably unwarranted.

As for the “Genius,” I could have chosen to cut him some slack. Maybe he was overwhelmed by the number of holiday customers he had to deal with. Or he was new and still learning to do his job. Or maybe he was under pressure to replace 1000 iPhone batteries before the store closed.

I also thought about my own business and my customer service. As much as I care about doing the right thing for my customers, I have made many mistakes. I’m grateful that most of my customers have been willing to put up with my mistakes.

Chinese word for patience

I admire people who work for the Apple Store because I can’t imagine myself dealing with so many questions and unreasonable expectations—like mine!—day in and day out and putting on a smiley face. They have more patience than I do.

Chinese word for gratitude

Is there any point here? I realized that what I choose to focus on affects my happiness. This world is wonderful and terrible at the same time. The cup is usually both somewhat full and somewhat empty. If I learned anything in the last 24 hours, it is that at every moment of every day, I need to be more mindful of what I pay attention to.

I am reminded of a quote: “The winner sees an answer to every problem; the loser sees a problem to every answer.” Do I want to be a winner and overcome my circumstances or do I want to be a loser and be overcome?

I am also reminded of a Bible verse: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” . . . and the result is peace. It’s better to fill our thoughts with nice things than junk.

It’s easier to think about focusing on the positives than to actual do so. I’d like to hear from you if you have some insight into how to be positively minded.


Updated August 23, 2014: Apple issued iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program:

“Apple has determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently. The affected iPhone 5 devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013 and fall within a limited serial number range.

If your iPhone 5 is experiencing these symptoms and meets the eligibility requirements noted below, Apple will replace your iPhone 5 battery, free of charge.”

I checked mine. It says “Our records show that your battery has already been replaced. If you paid for a battery replacement service, check with Apple to see if you are eligible for a refund.”

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