I don’t know if this is a “Apple” thing, or just a human thing. But I can’t imagine being in a “Microsoft” store and having the same thing happen.
The day after Christmas I went to the Apple Store. I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, and wanted to use it. I took my 6 year old son with me, and he headed straight to the little table in front of the Genius Bar where Apple had set up a couple of iMacs with games. My son seemed happy, so I started looking over the software and other low end items I could afford with the card.
It should be said that the place was fairly packed with people spending their Christmas money on iPods, iPhones and accessories. I couldn’t find any must have item on the software wall, and was moving to the iPhone accessories… but my son wasn’t at the computer. I looked around the best I could and he wasn’t in the store. I’m about to freak out, when I go up to the Genius Bar and had them page him.
No luck. Now I’m pretty upset, and I head out front where it was a bit quieter and called the wife to get her to come down to the store and help. As soon as I’m out front, a group of about 10-15 people joined me. All had their iPhones out. “Send me a picture,” the first one said. “I’ll help you look.”
You read that right. 10-15 people I did not know stepped outside, all wanting me to text or mail or bluetooth them a picture of my son, and they were all ready to go looking for my son around the outdoor mall. I pulled up a recent photo and was getting numbers to text the picture too, when one of the women asked “Is that him?” and pointed down the way.
There was my son returning from the other end of the mall. He saw me and ran and grabbed me.
Seems he couldn’t find me and thought I’d left. He knew his mom was down on the other end, and thought I’d gone down there to her. But he couldn’t find the store she was in, and was coming back to the Apple store to try and me.
These strangers and their iPhones were ready to come to my aid and find my missing son. I was moved beyond words. I’m sure they think that I’m an ungrateful git for not saying more, but the relief was overwhelming. Needless to say I had a long talk with my son explaining that I would never leave a store without him, and that instead of leaving himself he should have gotten help in the store. He understands that now. (In fact, he’s done that in the past, but I think the loud crowd scared him and he felt “safer” out of the store.)
So while I was EXTREMELY nervous for a while, it all turned out great and I saw just how wonderful iPhone users can be.
I do want to stress something, though. At no time did I think my son had been “taken.” I didn’t feel the need to rush and grab a cop, or call them, at that time. I was worried, more worried that he’d fallen in the lake at the mall or stepped into traffic, than that he had been abducted. For one thing, he’d scream bloody murder, and for another that just so rarely happens. My fear was finding him before he got so scared or worried that he got hurt.
In fact, he was nicely calm, and taking care of himself. While he made a “bad” decision, I’m ever so happy he made a decision and acted on it, instead of being unsure of what to do. Yes, it meant he wandered the length of an outdoor mall all by himself, but he acted. He made a plan and went with it. Find Mom. Can’t find Mom, go back to where Dad was. Overall, not a bad plan. Just not the best.
And I got the chance to see how many people still give a damn. And that was worth the worry.