Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some news from the ancients.

1. I went to breakfast with some of my buddies this morning, and as it happened, I was the one who stood in line to pay the bill. I noticed that the table nearest the counter was occupied by elderly people, even older than I. They were talking about posting pictures to Flicker. Now, not one of those folks was younger than 70. It occurred to me that if either one of my parents were at that table, at that age, they wouldn't be able to grasp the whole idea, much less act on it. It would be just too esoteric, too complicated. I don't know that my father ever took a picture with a "brownie" camera, or operated a stereo.

2. Back to reality, the elderly lady paying her bill ahead of me at the restaurant was paying in coins. She had brought a handful of them with her to the counter, leaving her purse behind at the table. Meticulously, she counted out the money, and thinking she had miscounted, she counted it again. Still not right. She had to leave the checkout line and go fetch her purse. Then of course, it became a problem of digging in the bottom of the purse looking for the change to make the right amount. I'm going to guess that this lady, like my parents would never have an iPhone or a Blackberry, or even a computer, and would certainly never contemplate posting pictures on Flicker. But, you see, some things never change, and that includes the exasperating behavior of old ladies at checkout counters.

3. My cellphone received another one of those nuisance advertiser calls, only this time, it got stuck on the screen that says, UNKNOWN CALLER, etc. I went to the Verizon store, even though Verizon is another of those companies which behave the way government behaves when it has you in its grasp. The young man looked at the phone, then looked at me as if I were a child and said, "Well you just push one of the buttons." Whereupon he pushed every button on the phone and the screen did not change. Perplexity spread across his youthful visage, and then maybe a bit of annoyance, and he said he had never seen anything like this before, which I doubt because I never think I'm the first one that a particular calamity has befallen. With the flick of a fingernail, he popped off the back of the phone, fished out the battery, disconnected it, reconnected it, and pushed the power button. Up came the welcome screen, and then the correct screen. "That solves half our problems," he said, and smiled kindly.

So my advice to you old folks out there who are struggling, as I do, with electronic equipment my father wouldn't have touched, here is my advice. Disconnect it and then reconnect it and solve half your problems. It will probably work with that machine some hospital some day puts you on to keep you around for a few more weeks.

4. I got a call from one of those charities that keeps calling no matter how much you contribute. They have that right, you know, even though it may annoy us a lot. So this time, on a sheer passing whim, I said that I was dead. "Oh, I'm so sorry," came the answer. "My condolences. I'll update our records." So, I will probably never hear from them again. Next year I may try this with the IRS.

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