The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive
 

Tim Cook took a few minutes to himself after the Apple Event. It had been a whirlwind of activity, the weeks and months leading up to this, and now it was nice to close his eyes, be alone with his thoughts, and breathe.

And so there he sat in his tastefully simple private bunker under the Yerba Buena Center (which they were kind enough to build for him on relatively short notice), away from everything and everyone. The lead shielding built into the walls ensured that his watch would not ring, no emails would reach his inbox, and for a few, short, blissful moments, he could just be.

It was so quiet in the bunker that he found himself actually startled by the gentle sound of an envelope pushed under the door.

Cook was confused, and a touch alarmed. The Yerba Buena Center assured him that the elevator to his bunker was inaccessible to anyone who didn’t have his private code, so how the hell did somebody get down there?

He was about to make the twenty-minute journey back up to the surface when the bunker’s silence was broken by the distinctive sound of a canine yawn and the tk-tk-tk of four paws padding away.

This stopped him in his tracks. Surely some dog did not manage to breach security, slide an envelope under his door, find itself momentarily bored by the whole affair, and then trot off as if nothing had happened.

It was only when he picked up the envelope that he realized how wrong he was. He knew it from the quality of the stationery (Cassegrain, mais bien sûr). He knew it from the wax seal on the back of the envelope, and the distinctly terrible yet utterly charming handwriting on the front.

“Some dog” did not do this. Only one dog could.

Cook carefully opened the envelope, and smiled upon seeing the familiar letterhead.

From the Desk of Banjo L. Cagan Managing Supervising Contenting Content Manager Supervisor, The Yearbook Office

Cook hadn’t heard from Banjo in a while, and had been worried that for some reason, he had fallen out of his friend’s favor. Of course, their lives had both become more complicated over the last few years, what with Cook running one of the earth’s most powerful tech companies and Banjo’s tireless work with Elon Musk on their top-secret, ongoing mission of saving the planet from rogue meteors.

Sometimes Cook was jealous that Musk got so much one-on-one time with Banjo, but seeing as civilization’s fate hung in the balance, he grudgingly let it slide. He returned to the letter.

Dear Tim,

Congratulations on a cracking announcement. I have already taken it upon myself to throw my owners’ old laptops and watches in the fireplace, so as to get them on track with your new products as soon as possible.

(I kid, of course, that would be terrible for the environment; they have all been donated to local schools and thrift shops. I am sure my owners will weep with joy with how thoughtful I was on behalf of the three of us.)

Opening pleasantries aside, I feel like I should apologize. I am so deeply grateful that you included me on your short list to take the Apple Watch prototype for a test spin, and I feel like quite the heel that I haven’t been able to get feedback to you until now. On the plus side, there are quite a few rogue meteors who now rue the day they tried to mess with Planet Earth, so I hope you’ll take that into consideration.

The central question I have for you overall is this: “What does this watch do for ME, Banjo L. Cagan?” And the answer is, as of now, “Not much, yo.”

The good news is that you’ve got a full month and change to apply my notes to the final product before you ship. That doesn’t mean time isn’t of the essence (ho-ho), so let’s get right into it:

TAPTIC ENGINE:

Truly, this is an exciting leap forward, Tim! For centuries, we have craved a way to get tapped on the wrist by a computer watch. And you have finally brought this to fruition. Bravo. And yet, I can’t help but wonder… will people find all of this wrist-tapping confusing? It taps you when you get a notification, it taps you if you’re being lazy, it taps you if you tap it, it taps you when you’re sleeping, it taps when you’re awake, and so on. Honestly, the 1989 Gregory Hines classic Tap had less tapping in it, and the word “Tap” is literally the only word in the title.

So we need to simplify. The tapping should only have a few straightforward purposes, so one’s wrist doesn’t feel like it’s on the receiving end of an all-Morse Code transmission of a Michener novel. What would those be? I’m glad you asked.

ONE TAP - Banjo L. Cagan would like an entire rotisserie chicken. If you are not in my direct presence, the tap would be followed by the watch opening up the page for Zankou Chicken, and automatically deducting money from the watch owner’s Apple Pay account so the chicken will be delivered post-haste.

TWO TAPS - Banjo L. Cagan needs to go out. Again, you, the watch-owner, may not be in a position to let me out. The watch would then automatically call and text my owners simultaneously, alerting them to this situation.

THREE TAPS - Banjo L. Cagan thanks you for sending him that chicken, but needs more garlic sauce and pitas.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Does this mean Banjo will get millions of rotisserie chickens sent to him every day, and that his owners will receive millions of texts and phone calls alerting them that he could use a good sniff n’ wee?” And the answer is a polite, “Of course it does, how dare you.”

Moving on.

HEALTH AND FITNESS:

Again, I have to commend you. FINALLY the public has a wrist-based device that will help people track their health and fitness. And that’s all well and good! But how will people know how I’m doing?

Keeping in mind that we’ve now set aside the Taptic Engine for three very important, specific jobs, we need to add another alert system to the watch. Separate from the taps, but just as important, if not more so.

Enclosed are schematics for what I call the “Zaptic Engine”, my gift to you. To put it in layman’s terms, it’s a car battery the watch owner wears on their hip in a fanny-pack, and is permanently attached to the watch with a stylish pair of jumper cables. Now, let’s say that my bed is not soft enough, and I could use 17 more pillows. The watch would deliver a gentle 8-milliamp shock to the user, letting them know this is the case, and then encourage them to text and call my caretakers to rectify the situation.

While it may seem that me requiring more pillows neither falls under the heading of “health” nor “fitness”, shut up.

Now as much as this pains me, I have to not talk about me for a second. Let me begin by telling you a little about me: I don’t have to wear clothes. Occasionally I’ll wear my smoking jacket and cravat when I’m feeling jaunty, but 99.9999% of the time, I’m just stone-cold nude, my man. Just out there. Swingin’. No shirt, no shoes, no problem. Maybe a collar. Maybe.

This is for a few reasons (the years I spent at that commune in Boulder, for example), but mostly it’s because I’m a dog. I have been given a luxurious coat of fur, and that’s pretty much all I need to get by.

So let’s say I was called upon to design a people clothing line, and when the time came for me to introduce my fashions to the world, they were just collars. Nothing else. Now I think a segment of the populace would be very excited about this (in every sense of the word), but for a lot of people, this would not satisfy their requirements for clothing. And they would ask me, “Banjo, I can’t help but notice your clothing line offers no clothing.”

Imagine if my response was, “Well, I don’t wear clothes. So there. Suck it.”

Tim, I’m 100% sure that you do not have a menstrual cycle. But I’m 100% sure that 50% of the population does, and would like to keep tabs on it. You get my meaning here, champ? Fix up. Look sharp. Don’t make me get Zaptic on your posterior.

PRICE

$50. You want a gold one? $100.

“Banjo, how are we going to make money off of this product,” you might be wondering. My answer? You’re doing great! Look how rich you are! You’re in a secret underground bunker, and I know for a fact every toilet in your house is made of platinum! Apple has so much bloody money, I imagine that every day in Cupertino, you all swim around in it like you were a flock of Scrooge McDucks!

You charge top dollar for everything you sell, and then you update it a year later and charge people even more. And yes, there are no guns being put to people’s heads, and yes, nobody is demanding they wait in line like they were camping out for Dead tickets in anticipation of the day you bust out a new line of aluminum gorilla-glass iWhatnots. That doesn’t mean you have to keep being jerks about it. Let folks have a cool new thing that doesn’t physically pick them up by the ankles and shake all of the money out of them.

I am being willfully naive, Tim. I understand you are in business to make money, and I understand that there is no logically sound way to hit my price-points. But to charge anywhere from $400 to $10,000 ($10K, JESUS, TIM, WE’RE OLD FRIENDS BUT THAT IS UNTENABLE) for a cool new thing...I don’t know.

It’s more important that you worry about my chicken and my pillows and the 50% of the world you spaced out on than the price, I suppose.

Tim, I’m getting a text from Elon that there’s some nasty business happening in the inky black void of space, and if we want to wake up and still have a Europe tomorrow, I should probably hop on that.

I’m sorry if I used some tough language here, but I know you can handle it. Always liked the cut of your jib, that’s why I gave Steve my highest recommendation to take you on in ’98.

Cheers,

Banjo L. Cagan

Cook carefully folded the letter, returned it to the envelope, placed it in his pocket, and made his way to his private elevator.

He wasn’t relishing the next month and a half of work, but he had his marching orders.