Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


I went to an Apple store and saw the saddest employee in the world

Nothing can prepare you for this sight. Nothing can prepare you for your reaction.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

And no one paid any attention.

Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNet

I thought I'd go to see the iPhone SE.

Because it's one thing to hear about it and another to fully absorb its essence.

Yes, it was a Saturday, but as I walked past a Bay Area Apple store, I could see there was room for me inside.

Apple stores may be back to normal, but perhaps people aren't.

Before the pandemic, this store would have been squeezed of air. Instead, there was room to breathe.

I'll come to my feelings about the iPhone SE another time because, on this occasion, there was something far greater and more memorable to observe.

A man in beige shorts and a blue shirt was meandering backwards and forwards at the end of the store. At first, I wondered what he was doing.

Was he muttering some motivational -- or even religious -- recitation? Was he building himself up for some sort of human encounter?

Then I saw he was wearing a microphone. He was talking.

I have a soft spot for performers.

The crazy ones who are prepared to bare themselves before others and attempt to heighten emotions and broaden their minds.

Apple stores have regular Today at Apple sessions where the knowledgable pass on their wisdom to others, in the hope that those others will become extremely talented Apple-gadget manipulators, thereby becoming more loyal to the cause.

The subject of this session appeared to be tips on editing your best moments on the iPhone.

The object of this session was to enlighten.

The dark part of this session was that no one was listening.

The man walked up and down. He spoke in a measured tone. He acted as if there was an audience. 

Yet there was no one on the stools. Facing him, that is.

A couple of men had their backs to him and stared down at their phones.

I wanted to believe they were actually listening but didn't want him to see their imperfect best-moment editing efforts.

I felt sure, though, that they were merely waiting for their Genius to emerge from the back of the store to attend to their urgent problems.

The presenter didn't relent. He offered no amateur dramatics. He didn't demand that people move down to the front. He didn't scream: "Why don't you love me? What did I do?"

He merely continued with his script, as if he was only one step from a TED Talk.

I watched for a little while and remembered where I'd seen such a performance before.

Some years ago, I stumbled into CES -- it's the only way -- and espied a veritable Vegas performer.

He'd been hired by Sharp to talk about how wondrous its televisions truly were. He had an excellent stage presence, an amicable manner and was very well dressed.

People walked by, just feet from his hand-held microphone. They didn't even offer him a glance.

The show went on regardless. The performer spoke. No one lent him an ear. No one gave him a smile.

Instead, they continued to walk on by, as if fearing they were supposed to give him money.

He carried right on, all the way to the end of his show.

I salute, then, his beshorted Apple counterpart of years later.

He didn't flag. He didn't flail. He performed his piece as best he could. It wasn't 15 minutes of fame, but it was 15 minutes that hopefully made him a little money.

If people didn't want to hear about his manipulations of Cinematic Mode, the loss was theirs, not his.

I wonder when his next performance will be.

Editorial standards