We know the iPhone hates sweaty hands.  Now I can confirm for you that the iPad is also averse to large, sweaty, men — sort of like the one you see below — unapologetically lurking on the New York City subway system.

Janna is crazy about her iPad, and when I received an SMS late yesterday afternoon from her in Queens saying — “I think I broke my iPad” — I was immediately crestfallen for her.

After stewing a bit, I decided to try and see how broken her iPad was from afar in Jersey City.  I used the “Find my iPad” App, typed in her information, and found her iPad!

Her iPad told me Janna was walking home from Journal Square!  Okay, so the iPad was still working a bit — who needs an iPhone 4, anyhow?  At least the sophisticated GPS stuff was active and she had at least a 3G connection on her WiFi iPad.

When Janna finally arrived, she was hot and sweaty and teary-eyed — plus it was Midol Week, so she was already in a patience deficit — but she was ready to rally and fight back to help find a solution.

The story of what happen came in signed stumbles.

The subway.

Big, sweaty man.

Bumped her hard.

iPad flew out of her hands.

Hit the ground.

Landed on the corner.


She showed me her iPad.  It was on and blinking the White Apple of Death Logo in some sort of coded pattern.  I visibly cringed a little bit and she began to cry.  The off button located on the top edge of the right side of the iPad was smashed into the device and was unresponsive.

I tried to assure her everything was okay and we’d find a way to fix it. She said, “We aren’t fixing it. We’re not buying a new one. I’m done with technology. I’m always breaking it!” I nodded in agreement and she started crying again. I shook my head with her and cringed again.  A little more crying.

I plugged her iPad into iTunes and it stopped blinking and started synching.  That was a good sign!  I showed her the active iPad wallpaper of our beloved Jack the Cat and her eyes started to brighten.

I was able to backup all of her data.  The iPad would not, however, turn off.  I think that’s a better problem to have than never turning on, but I decided to see if there was any danger in leaving an iPad on 24/7/365.

I called Apple Support and they said it was just fine to leave an iPad on for eternity.  Then they suggested we take the iPad to an Apple Store Genius Bar just to see if they might be able to fix the button on the smashed corner.

I hung up the phone and leapt online and made the appointment for Janna at the SoHo Apple Store for the morning.

Here’s the note Janna attached to her Genius Bar reservation:

I am Deaf.

My husband — [redacted] is his Apple ID to confirm we bought two iPads online from Apple — bought me an iPad for our anniversary.

Yesterday, on the R-train, a big, mean, sweaty guy bumped me and knocked my iPad on the floor. It landed on the turn off button and now that button is jammed and won’t move. The corner is crushed a little bit.

The iPad blinked on and off with the white apple logo.

My husband hooked it into iTunes and the iPad came back to life. Everything was backed up and Apps were updated.

I can’t afford to buy a new iPad or pay to repair it — no, we don’t have AppleCare on our iPads, but we do on our MacBook computers — so I want to know if you can somehow un-jam the turn off button for me today.

Thank you.

Here’s the email confirmation for Janna’s Genius Bar appointment and the P.S. admonishment at the end of the email to use the iPhone App instead of a computer is sort of funny.  (Note to Apple:  Don’t tweak people when they’re reaching out to you for help — you’re picking on the raw wounded and the hopelessly scarred!)

This morning arrived and the PATH trains were in meltdown mode because of the heatwave.  Janna was not going to make her appointment at 9:20am.

I didn’t know what to do, except to leap back online and try to get her another reserved slot.

10:50am was open.  I grabbed it for her.  I explained in the reservation note why Janna was missing her 9:20am appointment, and added that she was definitely on her way.

When Janna arrived at the Apple Store in SoHo, Meredith was waiting for her.

Janna was so upset and desperate she didn’t recognize Meredith at first.

When our Genius Bar appointment was processed, an Apple employee at the SoHo store noticed Janna was Deaf — and notified Senior Operations Manager Meredith — because the employee knew Meredith had some previous experience working with the Deaf and knew some signs.

Meredith read the note Janna submitted for her appointment and immediately remembered her. Ten years ago or so, Meredith was Janna’s boss at the Gap in Manhattan. Meredith hired a lot of Deaf workers and Janna loved working with Meredith.

Over the last decade, Meredith and Janna moved apart as onward and upward usually requires of friendships — but Meredith kept Janna in mind and knew about the books she’d written with me — and when Meredith told Janna this morning that she was going to swap out her broken iPad for a new one, Janna cried a little.  I cried a lot.  I didn’t cringe.

We were saved by Apple!

Janna had Meredith call me because Meredith needed some information to facilitate the swap because Janna’s broken iPad was not turning on.  Meredith told me all about their wonderful reunion and I have now shared that magical story with you here.

Miraculously, Meredith was able to get Janna’s iPad to finally turn on and I didn’t have to look for proof-of-purchase on my end.  The swap was complete in ten seconds.

You might argue Meredith did Janna that solid in swapping her crushed iPad for a brand new one only because they know each other — but I disagree.  After I learned about the swap, I told Meredith I was going to write this article about our fantastic experience with Apple SoHo, and Meredith was fine with it.

If Meredith had been acting out of character or beyond Apple Store policy, she would have asked me to keep this swap story quiet — and I would have — but she did not.  That alone tells me Meredith’s mandate as an Apple manager is to get the consumer happy no matter what and no matter who you are — and that sort of “First, Always Do Good” guiding mantra clearly pays off exponentially in so many right ways that cannot always be described in writing, but are always felt in person.

I profusely thanked Meredith and wondered aloud with her about how large New York City is and how small the world becomes when, through luck and kismet, two old friends can be reunited in sad times while simultaneously resurrecting from those ashes to fall together, once again, into the happiness of doing the right thing.


  1. That’s a great story, David — so good of Apple to be so helpful. I have had similar experiences at that SoHo store where they replaced my iPhone after a different Apple store said that my problem was due to “water damage” — though the problem was unrelated to water damage.

    1. Gordon!

      Love that story! I think I love Apple SoHo even more now if that’s possible! Wowser! That’s the hotspot to go in NYC when you want truly pro service.

      I forgot to mention in the article that, when Janna entered the store, Meredith greeted Janna with her sign name — Janna was a little freaked out at first because your sign name is a very unique and special thing, and she wasn’t expecting that sort of greeting at all from an Apple employee. That little muscle memory of the mind from Meredith made the experience just that much more rare and completely satisfying.

  2. UPDATE:

    iPad is restored and backed up. Half the Apps did not get transferred. Checking their boxes in iTunes and synching solved the matter.

    1. Forgot to add we were able to get Janna’s unlimited AT&T data plan “transferred” to her replacement iPad. It took about an hour on the phone with AT&T to make it happen. The process was not convenient or simple, but it is done.

      You will need to give AT&T your new ICCID and IMEI numbers — found in SETTINGS | GENERAL | ABOUT on your iPad

      Then you turn off your iPad — press the Home Button and the Off button simultaneously until you get the “Slide to Power Off” screen. Slide. Power off.

      Pull the SIM card.

      Read tiny numbers from a tiny SIM card to AT&T tech over the phone — numbers are light grey type printed on an off-white background and impossible to see without strong light and magnification — then wait a moment or two as the AT&T network gets updated to find your iPad.

      Turn on your iPad and your phone should finally register with your original iPad phone number. You don’t have to re-register your iPad or enter your credit car number. AT&T will transfer it all for you.

      AT&T has “Special Ops” for reprogramming your iPad and you dial a special number to reach them. They’re based in Louisiana and they are downright friendly and patient — and that’s just what you want when dealing with long strings of endless numbers on a Friday night.

  3. Great story and good to see some places still have good customer service.
    I see people sitting on the train with their iPads and wonder about people bumping into them and spilling the iPad to the floor. One reason I don’t use my laptop on the bus or train.

    1. Great to see you here with us, Mik!

      I still can’t get over the great Apple service. It was unexpected and delightful!

      Oh, I agree about bumping iPhone and iPads while on the street and public transportation. I never do it. Janna, however, finds those “empty spaces” in her day the perfect place and time to catch up on reading and email — and if she didn’t have those four hours a day to fill with work while “transporting” — her trips would be boring and empty. She’s making a calculated risk ratio that she’ll get more work done than it will cost her in heartache and device replacement. She’d been pretty lucky over the years…

      She’s also especially careful about the “grab and run” thieves who stand near the doors and when the train stops, they time their “snatching” and exit right before the doors close. Getting bumped and jostled is much harder to predict and defend against.

  4. I love your story! My sixteen year old daughter has had similar difficulties with her iPhone. The Apple team at First Colony Mall in Houston and at Northgate in San Antonio both came to her rescue. Yep – not one, but two replaced iPhones. Apple’s customer service is reasonable and logical when working with their customers!

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