Recently I went to an Apple store. In a suburban mall in New Jersey. It was the week after Black Friday weekend and its deluge of online sales. I had hoped to exchange an iPhone case I also bought on line.
At midafternoon the mall was quiet as most malls are in a state where COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are once again leapfrogging themselves. But the Apple store was more than quiet. it was bare. No new iPhones or MacBooks on the tables. No iPhone or iPad cases on the shelves. Nothing. To. Buy.
It was one of the saddest things I’ve seen in a pandemic year of sad upon sadder things. A store which like all Apple stores has always been brimming with delighted energy – silent. Nearly deserted. 3 weeks before Christmas.
It was suddenly a metaphor for everything I’ve cried over as 2020’s increasing miseries and tragedies and deaths piled up. This Apple store looked like – well – death. Like a place where the lights were about to be snuffed out. As I said, a metaphor for all the human lights snuffed out needlessly this year and all the small business lights snuffed out because Congress couldn’t find enough decency to help them through this financially until the very end of the year. When it was way too late. Then there are all the grandparents who still can’t see their new grandkids and all the kids who still can’t go to real school in person and all the young people in their first or second jobs who still can’t drop by anyone’s desk to ask a newbie’s casual question.
An Apple store means many things to many people. But until now it has never meant lost jobs or food bank lines which stretch forever. Or loved ones who never saw the holiday gifts already bought for them. An Apple store. Deserted and like so much in 2020 and still in 2021- dead.