An Immobile Mobile

I was recently on a trip for two weeks in Boston, New York, and New Jersey and in preparation for that trip, at the very last minute I decided that I needed to get a new mobile phone. My iPhone 4S was a few years old by now and could barely hold a charge. As I was racing around doing errands the night before my flight, I suddenly realized what a pain it would be to have to duck into coffee shops or other places on my trip just to charge my phone. I needed a new phone! I had been wanting to upgrade to the new iPhone 6 anyway, so that evening I went to my local Apple store in Minneapolis and went through the lengthy and annoying process of changing phone carriers, getting a new phone, and transferring all of my contacts and data to the phone. FINALLY I was done and everything went smoothly. Whew! And the phone looked really cool; it was a lot bigger with a faster processor and an excellent camera. Perfect. I don't get new gadgets very often so I was excited to bring this new toy with me on my trip.

Well, unfortunately my shiny new iPhone didn't turn out to be everything I had hoped. Not long after I left Minneapolis for Boston, I soon realized that the larger phone size was causing strain and pain to my hands--especially while texting. My heart sank. I loved this phone! And now it was causing me pain because of its size? While in Boston, and then in New York and New Jersey, I continued to use the phone because I didn't want to deal with exchanging it while I was traveling. However, probably due to the stress of travel, my RA started to flare up anyway, and especially in my fingers and hands. Texting and using the large iPhone 6 touch screen didn't help my RA flare-up; it made it worse. Yet I didn't want to deal with the added stress and exhaustion of trying to find an Apple store to fix the situation.

Luckily a new friend I met in Boston, and a fellow RA patient and blogger, alerted me to the fact that I only had 14 days to exchange my phone without getting penalized and having to pay an extra fee. Fourteen days from when I bought the phone in Minneapolis? Dammit. By the time I remembered the message she had sent me about it on Twitter, I was dangerously close to reaching that deadline. And now I had left Boston and was in New York, navigating packed subway trains and streets and not knowing what the heck I was doing for the most part. I didn't have the time or energy to deal with exchanging my phone! But, after speaking with a very nice woman on the phone at the SoHo Apple store, she convinced me that the best thing to do would be to bring my phone into the store and exchange it for the smaller 5S. By this time, my right thumb was noticeably swollen and painful to touch and move, due to the strain put on it from my too-large phone.

On Day 12, after an already packed morning and afternoon spent in Brooklyn, I took the subway back to Manhattan and found the Apple store in SoHo. The store was hot and uncomfortable and packed with shoppers buzzing around and probably people mooching off the free wifi. I felt sweaty, dizzy, and developed a headache immediately (I'm not a fan of shopping in general). Fortunately, I didn't have to wait too long before someone helped me and put me on the waiting list to get help with exchanging my phone for the smaller iPhone 5S.

After waiting for what felt like an eternity (it probably wasn't actually that bad), a new employee came over to assist me. Since she was a new trainee, she had to grab her manager/trainer to deal with my somewhat complicated situation. At first I thought, Oh great. This is going to take forever and I'm going to end up with a phone that doesn't work, or something will go wrong.

I'm happy to report that my phone-changing-experience with my friendly trainee girl and her manager went very smoothly. They were patient and extremely helpful and spent a long time assisting me to make sure that I left the store a satisfied customer. The manager's knowledge and competence was immediately evident, and both employees were genuinely understanding of my problem of having RA and the phone physically not working out for me. What a relief.

Thank you so much, Kingman and Lex, from the SoHo, New York Apple store! You saved my trip and you saved my hands.

My only worry now is what will happen when the RA-friendly iPhone 5S is no longer available? Does Apple even know or care that the bigger and newer models aren't good for people with RA? Maybe I should tell them.

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