Chicago Ate My iPad


A very experienced traveler whose advice I cherish once let loose with this pearl…”Under no circumstances go through Chicago.” Apparently I needed not only to cherish the advice but to heed it because I went through Chicago and it ate my iPad. In the never-ending search for the fine balance between an airline with cheap fares and an airline that has a reasonable maintenance reputation, I ended up in the very windy city. To rationalize my decision, I went to Midway airport, not O’Hare. It’s possible Amelia Earhart isn’t really lost. She’s still in a holding pattern over O’Hare waiting for a gate to open up.

The weather when we arrived wasn’t great but that soon changed. It got much worse. The time between the deteriorating weather patterns was gainfully used by my playing Words With Friends. WWF is just online Scrabble except the rules and allowed words for Scrabble don’t apply to WWF. Other than that it’s identical.

Eventually we got on an airplane allegedly headed south, went to get de-iced, watched a crew scrape the latest layer of white slush off the runway, and headed for sunny Florida. Florida wasn’t sunny but at least the runway did not require a snow plow. Things went along beautifully by which I mean my fellow travelers and I set up a bar in my hotel room and made multiple trips to the free hors d’ oeuvres. This impromptu party lasted until about nine at which time it is required in Florida that everyone over the age of sixty-five (meaning ninety-five per cent of the population) must go to bed. When you begin the day by getting up at 2 AM to catch an airplane and end the day in a tavern/ hotel room, you need to sleep sooner rather than later.

As I do most mornings, I made coffee and reached for my iPad to see if I still didn’t have any vowels in WWF. Then I noticed an odd thing. It was 6 in the morning but my iPad insisted it was 5. My iPhone knew it was 6 AM. Knowing Chicago is on Central time, I assumed my iPad thought it was still there. Then I saw my iPad said 5 PM not 5 AM. Things in Chicago are wacky, but not that wacky. If there is one thing anyone who owns any electrical device knows, it is to restart that device at the first hint of trouble. I turned it off. I turned it back on after the prescribed one minute. No good. Off and on again. And again. I even did the “hard” restart, the “hard” portion of which I cannot explain. I went to the Settings menu and saw the time zone button spinning like a top. In my naivete I thought the iPad didn’t know where it was even though I paid extra for the built-in GPS. Hoping to give it a hint, I turned off the “automatic update” feature on the thing so I could put in the correct time zone. Wrong! When I turned off the automatic time zone update, the time zone of Taipei came up. That explained the thirteen hour time error but left everything else unanswered.

Congratulating myself on critical thinking, I opened the map app—-such a salubrious phrase. It very un-salubriously refused to recognize the iPad was in the eastern time zone, the state of Florida, or even in the United States. Things like this are not reassuring for several reasons. After I Googled the problem to see if the wisdom of the Internet could help me out, I found story after story about iOS 10 and 11 containing a huge glitch that renders the time zone update nonfunctional if a time zone is crossed while the iPad is in airplane mode. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t time zones crossed thousands of times a day in airplanes? Aren’t iPads required to be in airplane mode when on an airplane? You see where I’m going with this. This is beyond a Catch-22. This is a Catch-122. At least. Also, almost all the airlines have gone to electronic navigation charts run on iPads. The less you think about that the better you will sleep the night before your next flight.

You know what my own little problem means, right? This means I have to either call Apple or go to an Apple store. I’ll probably have to call because, you know, my GPS thinks it’s in Taipei.

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