There are some occupations that come with a certain amount of aggravation, especially service occupations, and most especially ones in which you are tutoring and teaching others about advanced technology—Apple computers, iPads, iPods, for example.
Sheryl Heller, President and Superwoman Techie, and Mike Avery, Vice President and Tutor/Tech, of Twin Peaks Geeks and GeekHampton, know this only too well. Once, when they were on vacation in Spain at Christmas, a vacation that they took after working 16-hour days seven days a week for over a year straight, an urgent e-mail buzzed their respective iPhones: “You installed our new modem for the wireless but NEVER gave us a password. Nephew visiting. He can’t get ONLINE! HELP!”
There they were in San Sebastian sipping a local red wine, absorbed in the singular loveliness of the Basque region. A longtime client has accused them of failing to give them the new password. What did they do? [expand]
I can pretty much verify the facts of this story. I was the client. Sheryl and Mike didn’t forget to give me the password. In fact, Sheryl and I came up with the password together. I completely forgot. I didn’t write it down and keep it in a safe place, and if I had, I’d forgotten where. The password had to do with my dogs. Within seconds, Sheryl—and I still don’t know how she does this—e-mailed me MY password. Problem solved.
This is but one small example of the world of Twin Peaks Geeks and GeekHampton (All Mac All the Time), a company that has just opened its brand new digs in a slick, modern, airy space at 34 Bay Street in Sag Harbor.
When I interviewed Sheryl and Mike and Amy O’Donnell-Rajs, the Operational Wizard Geek-in-Training (see business card), and asked them about some of their most memorable, challenging experiences, I could at least take comfort in knowing my mistake didn’t rank in the Top Ten Most Unbelievable Requests.
Way back in the day, when Sheryl and Mike were just starting their company in San Francisco and Sheryl was with a client working on her Mac, Sheryl did what she normally would do, empty a client’s trash to clean up the system. In this case, inexplicably, this particular client had the very odd habit of keeping all of her files in her TRASH, not on her desktop in folders or in her documents file, she kept everything in her TRASH!
“I asked her, ‘What do you do when you want to empty your trash?’ And the woman said, ‘I take everything out, empty what I don’t want, then put everything back into my trash that I want to keep.’” Logic defying? Yes. To this day, before Sheryl makes a move, she asks, “Can I empty your trash?”
Other top issues the team faces with their Apple clients: spilled beer and margaritas (particularly in the summer); a client left his iPhone on the lawn. The sprinklers came on (Zap!); another called and said she spilled olive oil all over her keyboard, but emphasized it was EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL. Whew! “The machines are usually fried, but we can rescue and recover the data,” Sheryl said.
Then there are the calls that begin this way, Amy explains, “A guy calls. Says his desktop computer is dead. It won’t turn on. So I ask him, ‘Are the lights on in your house?’ And there will be a long pause. ‘No,’ he says, ‘we had a power outage.’”
Twin Peaks Geeks and its store, GeekHampton, provide a full-service Apple Specialist center, offering tune-ups, repairs, network installation, hard drive replacements, backup drives, batteries, cables, RAM upgrades, accessories, sales of iPods, Mac computers, iPads (which are so in demand they have trouble keeping them in stock), and exceptional tutoring and training.
Whereas Sheryl is “The Fixer,” Mike is “The Tutor,” one with seemingly limitless patience and an endless supply of Apple intuition. (He attributes his patience to years working as a security guard at a San Francisco hospital with an emergency psychiatric unit.) He will sit with a client, often those of us who were not born with an iPod attached to our cribs, and slowly, lovingly explain how to create a document, use it, save it (not in the TRASH); what to do in iPhoto with all those pics we’ve taken with our digital cameras; how to set up Mac Mail, etc.
“You need someone to help you, not yell at you or make you feel like an idiot. We advocate for the client to make their Apple experience personal,” Mike said. (Like remembering their passwords!)
What turns Sheryl on about her career, she said, is “being able to solve the problem. Getting the fix done.” Mike likes “knowing I’ve helped someone, when that moment comes and they say, ‘Oh, that’s how I do that.’”
Mike, Sheryl and Amy are the core of the operation. (There are 12 employees total.) “We’re very balanced,” Amy says, then she and Sheryl laugh and Mike rolls his eyes. Mike and Sheryl started out working from their home in Hampton Bays. Amy came on board thinking she’d work for a few months temporarily. She was set up in their basement. That was three years ago.
Eventually they opened a storefront in Hampton Bays, but quickly realized they’d need a bigger space. With many, if not most of their clients based on the East End, they searched for a new, bigger space and were determined to get into it before Memorial Day. They had settled on a spot in the Bridgehampton Commons. All was moving along swimmingly until a few weeks before they were going to make the change and the whole thing fell apart.
It was Mike who drove by the new building on Bay Street and the rest is history. They tapped local carpenters, electricians, and builders to work with. Custom cabinetry, a standout feature in the store, was done by James Demato of Design Works in Bridgehampton.
“We work well together,” Amy says. “We defuse each other,” Sheryl chimes in. “They’re Libras!” Mike cries out, “Help me!”
“He’s the even-keel one,” Amy says, then she and Sheryl laugh like schoolgirls passing notes in class.
GeekHampton will have a grand-opening reception on Saturday, June 25, from 3 to 7 p.m. WEHM 92.9 will be there broadcasting live, food and refreshments will be served and one lucky guest will win an iPad2. The iPad drawing will take place at 5 p.m. and the winner must be present.
For more information, you can visit online at www.twinpeaksgeeks.com. [/expand]