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Apple Store's Secret Room

The Apple Store's secret bathroom: You need an escort to go potty in tech giant's glassy realm

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The Apple Highland Village store is nifty, but where's the bathroom? Photo by Tyler Rudick
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The sleek interior beckons customers inside, but during the day the glare is a problem. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_Apple store_Highland Village_new glass_May 2012
News_Apple store_interior_Highland Village_March 2012
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Apple store - Highland Village
Get Directions - 4012 Westheimer Road Houston

I have mixed feelings about Apple stores.

The architecture is stunning — case in point: the glass-enclosed Highland Village store that is modeled after one in New York's Upper West Side — and the products are still cool. But I usually only stop by because something's wrong with my Mac or iPhone, and having to navigate the confusing lines automatically puts me in a grumpy mood.

Such was the case Monday when I showed up for an afternoon appointment at the Genius Bar to figure out why my phone wouldn't download an iOS5 update using iTunes.

 In an embarrassing move, you have to escorted to the bathroom by a cheery employee who doesn't seem to mind while he or she stands guard outside the door. 

The two-hour ordeal included periodic disappearances of my genius helper just at the moment I needed him, having to constantly shade my eyes to see the computer screen because the sun coming in through the glass roof is so bright, and interminable waits while photos downloaded from my phone to my computer.

After about an hour, it was time bathroom break. But, alas, at this Apple store there is no easily accessible rest room.

The bathroom is on the second floor, normally closed off to customers. I'm guessing designers purposely decided to place the bathroom upstairs to prevent thievery and discourage visits. In an embarrassing move, you have to escorted to the bathroom by a cheery employee who doesn't seem to mind while he or she stands guard outside the door. (That hasn't happened to me since first grade.)

For a retailer that touts the newest and niftiest, the bathroom is surprisingly low tech. The lights do not automatically come on — there are no sensors  — so you have to flip a switch. The toilets have are no water-saving features and the water in the sink doesn't automatically turn on or off.

Moral of this story: If you're going to the Apple store, don't stop for a coffee at Starbucks first.

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