Whining 101

I was standing in the express checkout line in a local supermarket and watching the cashier scan my bananas, soup, and orange juice. I had only 7 items, well under the 10-item limit posted at the line entrance. When she got to the pears she looked at them as if she were trying to decided if they were edible or not.

"Bartletts," I told her, thinking that her confusion stemmed from an unfamiliarity with basic pear types. She smiled, punched a few keys and sat the pears on the built-in scale. The register rang up US$4.32.

"I donit think thatis right. They should be 89 cents a pound and I only have 3 pears," I told the cashier. Her neutral expression gave way to a look of mild irritation. She thumbed through a book, found what she was looking for and punched some more keys on the register, which then proclaimed my pears to be of the bosc variety and would cost me US$3.27.

"I donit think thatis right either," I said, and the look the cashier gave me said that she had a vivid image of what she wanted me to do with the pears.

By now the line had grown, and the look of frustration on the faces of my fellow shoppers told me that, if asked, they would likely pay to see me do what the cashier wanted me to do with the pears. I insisted that the pears were bartletts, not bosc, and that the price should be more like US$2.00.

The cashier grabbed her book again, thumbed through it, found something and entered it into the register. This time the register said the items on the scale were "produce" and that the unit cost was 89 cents. The total price of my produce was US$2.21, far more acceptable than the US$3.27. I left the store with my pears, happy for not having paid too much for them.

So, what does this little vignette tell us, beyond the obvious fact that I like bartlett pears? Well, for one thing, it illustrates the power of complaining, even in the face of resistance and exasperation. It also show us that complaining does not mean puling incoherently like some kid who doesnit want do something and is searching for reasons not to do it, nor does it mean that you register your problem by frothing at the mouth and blustering like a fog horn. A reasoned response, and even a well thought out angry response, is always better than yelling, spitting, and getting red-faced.

Chill, then complain.

I am chilled and I want to complain about those who complain about the people who complain.

Recently Scott Williams shut down his forum on the MacOSX.com Web site to protest "how negative the Mac community has been and continues to be over all the great products Apple releases for us." Several others who have posted on this site are also fed up with the negative comments, the complaints, and the outright indignation expressed here, and on other sites, about some of the things Apple does, wonit do, or stops doing. While I donit agree with some of the positions expressed in some of these complaints, and I ignore those who believe the only way to get their point across is to bludgeon you with foul language and incoherent diatribes, I canit agree with those who complain about the complainers.

Follow me?

Iim not going to go into the particulars of why folks are complaining a lot right now; thatis been covered by myself and Bryan Chaffin here at TMO and by many others on other sites. I will say that people are peeved about some of the changes Apple has made recently, not so much that the changes were made, but how they were made and how much things have changed. That as a background, I am left to wonder exactly what it is that those who feel there is too much negativity in the Mac community think people should do if they donit like whatis happening to them? Should we be shy, shrug our shoulders and believe that thatis the way it is, love it or lump it? Should we grin and take whatever Apple grants us, kowtowing as we open our wallets?

I believe that what we are seeing, reading, and hearing is the frustration people have towards Apple, which may be exacerbated by Appleis silence. Apple had seemed to have become more open recently, showing that it does listen to its customers and making changes. Now it seems that Apple has withdrawn, becoming quiet and immovable, which only makes people angrier. Where else are they going to vent if not on forums and chat servers?

Many complainers are huge Apple fans and they complain because they are upset and need to let off some steam. When you get so large a number of unhappy people two things are apparent: there are a large number of unhappy people and these people are unhappy for a reason, maybe even two reasons. I suggest to those who think thereis too much negative karma in the Mac community that they take a look and see why that might be, and understand that people, just like me and my pears, arenit going to just stand there and accept what they believe is not right or fair. Complaining is not only a reasonable thing to do, it can be the right thing to do.

If you have a complaint please post it below.

Vern Seward is a frustrated writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. Heis been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.