EXCERPT: She Memes Well by Quinta Brunson

The following is an excerpt from Quinta Brunson’s new book She Memes Well. 

When I first saw this customer, I knew she was going to be trouble. Draped in at least $50K of jewelry, she had one of those “I need to speak to the manager” scowls as she stomped up to the Genius Bar. Under her arm was what looked to be a 1960s muff? But as she got closer, I could see it was a tiny dog. Sigh. Little dogs in purses is like a warning sign that you’re gonna be dealing with someone who is . . . difficult.

At the moment she arrived, I was helping another customer, but I could see from her dramatic look-arounds for assistance that she was going to be a headache. When I finished with my customer, I scanned the store to see my coworkers helping other customers. How is this on me? I thought. I glanced to Ikenna, who was purposefully taking a long time with his customer’s broken headphones. That’s like a two-minute appointment, and Ikenna was on minute nine. He shot me a “sucks for you” look. I almost pulled a muscle forcing a smile across my face, and walked over to the customer.

“How can I help you today?” I asked.

The woman dug around in her enormous designer bag, pulled out an iPad, and threw it on the table. “This doesn’t work,” she said as her dog tried to wriggle out of her grasp.

I took the iPad and examined it. It looked to be in good condition, but maybe it was something with the software or internal hardware.

“Okay, got it. What specifically seems to be the issue, so I can assist you in the best way?”

“It won’t unlock. Watch this.” She put the iPad flat on the counter, took her dog’s paw, and pressed it onto the home button. The iPad lit up, and then nothing happened. I stared at the situation, trying to comprehend what I just saw.

“See?” the woman said, jamming her poor dog’s paw onto the home button again. That’s when it hit me: this woman was upset that the fingerprint recognition software didn’t work on her dog’s paw. Let me say that one more time for the people in the back: the lady was mad because her DOG could not unlock her iPAD.

“Ma’am . . . if you are insinuating that the iPad won’t open for your dog, then . . . I would have to tell you that the fingerprint scanner wasn’t created for animals. It only works on humans . . . if that’s what you’re trying to insinuate, of course,” I said, trying to be as noncondescending as possible. I could not believe I had to use this combination of words in a sentence together.

“Well, she needs to be able to access it on her own,” the woman seethed. “I downloaded an app to help with her separation anxiety. It doesn’t make sense if she can’t use it when she’s anxious.” Lol, sure, lady. That’s what doesn’t make sense in the scenario.

I mean, I could see why the dog was anxious. Three minutes with this woman and I was ready to inhale some Xanax. “Well, see, the app is meant for human usage. Not for animals. And also, I’m not sure if you saw the app, but it’s got words . . . and dogs can’t read,” I said, trying to hold back my exasperation.

She moved her Pomeranian from one arm to the other and gave me an appraising look. “I don’t appreciate your attitude,” she sniffled.

“It’s not an attitude, it’s the truth.” She was not pleased, and I knew that this scenario wasn’t going to improve. “You know what, let me get my manager for you two!” I said, pointing to her dog. I turned around and yanked the smile from my face as I walked up to my manager, Jonathan, who was already aware of the situation. He had spotted it from afar and knew I would need relief. Bless his heart.

I highly doubt my manager coded some sort of “paw extension” to help her dog unlock the damn iPad, but I was grateful to get away from the woman. I also knew she’d be more willing to listen to him than me, since he was a large white man and I was a small Black girl who couldn’t possibly know what she was talking about when it came to dogs using iPads! Ultimately though, the interaction left me stunned. This was a type of entitlement that I had never experienced before in my Apple Genius Bar days.

The Apple culture in Los Angeles was (and I’m assuming still is) very different from the Apple culture in Philly. I understood the people who came into the Philly Apple Store. Their problems made sense to me, because they were my problems. I knew that their phone was oftentimes their lifeline. I also knew that these customers didn’t have a lot of time to get their phone fixed because they had to get to their lousy job or take care of their children. When someone came in upset or angry, I empathized with them.

In Los Angeles, it was a whole different bag. I was either dealing with a lot of rude, rich people, or their frantic and desperate assistants. No one wanted to shoot the breeze or even really make eye contact with me. They were busy, they were stressed, and they needed their phone fixed NOW. A few months after moving to Los Angeles and starting this job at Apple, I began to experience a bigger culture shock than I had expected. These people sucked!

Something broke in me that day. All of a sudden, the sunshine was bothering my eyes, the Subway breakfast started to taste . . . like . . . well, Subway breakfast. Even Yogurtland wasn’t saving me . . . and I had a punch card! I stopped feeling
that buzz of limitless excitement I first felt when I moved to LA. The routine was no longer feeling like a stable accomplishment, but more like a trap.

I started to shut down. When my friends would ask me to hang out after work, I’d dodge them and make excuses. While
on the floor at work, I unknowingly stopped speaking unless spoken to by a customer. I turned into a zombie; I was so tuned out. One night, a kid dropped an iPad on my foot and I didn’t even clock it.

The parent of the child went “Um . . . what the fuck? Did you not feel that? Timmy is sorry. Timmy, say sorry to the lady.” It took Timmy yelling “Sorry!” for me to even realize I was in pain. Then it hit me, I didn’t come here to fix tech for Timmy, I came here to work in comedy.

That evening, after my shift was over, I took a page out of Pomeranian lady’s book and asked if I could speak with the floor manager, Diana.

Diana, a small mixed-race woman with the peppy demeanor of a popular-cool mom, was very easy to talk to. When I sat
down in her office, I explained that as much as I appreciated the job and how it helped me land softly into my new LA life, I needed to leave and focus on the reason I moved: comedy.

“Well, I’m sad to see you go,” Diana told me. “But there’s always a job here for you if you need it.”

“Really?” I was surprised to hear that while I was quitting.

“Yeah! You’re one of the fastest technicians we have! We’ll take those East Coast quick-appointment skills any day!”

I took her kindness as a challenge. I was either going to make it, or I was going to be back at that store, telling Saudi princes I couldn’t fix their gold-plated, completely customized “iPhones” because they’d gutted all the Apple parts, making them no longer Apple products. I vowed to make it.

That night I quit, I came home, packed a bowl, and wrote out a simple list of goals:
1. Take more improv classes.
2. Perform more often.
3. Get on TV.

At that point, I’d been at Apple for the better part of four years, and while I was happy with the steady paycheck, I was
starting to get a little too comfortable. Success doesn’t favor the relaxed; it favors the risk takers, and quitting liberated me to take those risks. It opened my schedule up for more classes, creativity, and comedy. I thought that if I put 100 percent of my energy into breaking through to the entertainment world, then I’d be successful and famous in no time.

She Memes Well is GOLD Comedy’s book club pick of December 2021! Pick up your own copy and follow along! To join the conversation, you can DM us @GOLDComedy on Twitter. Or,