Life in These United States

At the suggestion of an e-mail correspondent, I interrupt my previously scheduled elementary school reminiscence for the following announcement.

His headset jack would not plug into his I-phone, so he made an appointment with the Genius Squad. At the door of the Apple Store a Less-Than-Genius suggested that his case might be the problem.
His case was not the problem.
May I see your phone, the Less-Than-Genius said.
Of course.
There’s a bead inside, the Less-Than-Genius said.
I have no beads, he said.
Your appointment is with Joe, the Less-Than-Genius said.
Joe, a Genius, said, There’s a bead inside.
I have no beads, he insisted.
Joe took the phone behind closed doors. He returned some minutes later to report the phone could not be fixed.
The good news was Apple would replace his phone. The bad news was that because the defect was due to “a third party,” he would have to pay $79.
You mean the bead, he inquired.
Indeed, Joe meant the bead. Joe offered him a needle-nosed flashlight so he might see for himself.
He saw light reflected back at him.
A Japanese man, his hair worn in a knot, was at the table with problems of his own. He borrowed the flashlight and looked into his own unfixable phone. Dust, the Japanese man said, smiling broadly.
He paid the $79. At his request, Joe re-installed Pandora, so he could again hear Red Garland.
Do you think, his wife asked, that the Genius Training Manual instructs, When the customer reports a jack will not go into a phone, reply…