So, when I tell you about how one of my days went last week, don’t be offended. If you are older than I am (or even younger) and don’t understand technology, don’t think I’m picking on you. I’m not. (And, Mama, I’m not picking on you either.)
Okay, now, having said that, let me tell you about a day I had recently. It actually only took about 2 ½ hours, but it felt like a day.
I walked into my parents’ house with no idea what I was getting myself into. The Goose had told me that Grandmama said she had someone coming to work on a phone, but I didn’t know what that meant. I thought I was just dropping the Goose off to hang out with Grandmama for a little while. Grangraddy was out of town, so I thought it was a good way to entertain both mother and child.
When I walked in the door and heard the old man say, “Oh, good. I’m glad you’re here,” I should have pretended not to speak English and turned and run. Oh, but no. I, being the good Samaritan that I am, looked to see what he needed help with. I had no idea who this man was and certainly had no idea what I was walking into.
My mother has a hearing problem. It has grown progressively worse through the years, and she has a hard time hearing us, especially on the phone. She decided to have a caption phone installed. This is an awesome invention, and I’m excited for her to have it. I think she’ll find it very helpful. On the day that I walked into her house, she was having it installed. The man who installed it was this really nice, 70’s-plus man who said he knew what he was doing and really, really liked to talk about it. He explained to the Goose and me that he worked on computers before I was even born (insert the Goose’s dinosaur comment here) and that the computers he worked on were big enough to fill a room. The Goose later said to me that, perhaps, if that was the last computer he had worked on, it was time for him to find a new job. (She is an insightful little girl.)
When I entered the scene, the man was looking for a phone jack in the family room to hook up the caption phone. He needed a jack for the phone to work. The Goose said, in all seriousness, “What’s a phone jack?” She had no idea. The man was busy leaning over couches and furniture looking for a jack when I told him there wasn’t a jack in the family room. He had my mother looking too. He tried to get the Goose to help, but she said she had no idea what he was looking for. I told him again there wasn’t a jack. He said there had to be one because there was a phone in there. I told him the phone was wireless and there wasn’t a jack. He said he knew that but there still had to be a jack. I said there wasn’t a jack. He continued looking for a jack. I said there wasn’t a jack. He said there had to be a jack and continued leaning over furniture and looking. I remained silent. Then, he said there wasn’t a jack so we would have to put the phone in the kitchen.
In the kitchen, he began asking my mother whether she used voicemail or an answering machine. The conversation went something like this:
Old man: “Do you have voicemail?”
Old man: “So you don’t use an answering machine?”
Mama: “Yes. I use an answering machine.”
Old man: “So you don’t have voicemail?”
Mama: “Yes. I have voicemail.”
Old man: “Do you have an answering machine or voicemail?”
Mama: Blank stare.
Me: “She has an answering machine.”
Old man: “Does she call a phone number to check messages?”
Me: “No. That would be voicemail. She has an answering machine.”
Old man: “So she checks an answering machine to get the messages.”
Me: “Yes. That would be the meaning of an answering machine.” (I wasn’t really sarcastic to him, but this is what it sounded like in my head.”
After the whole answering machine/voicemail drama, the man figured out that he could not put the phone in the kitchen because the answering machine was in the office. The caption phone had to be near the answering machine to pick up the messages from it. He said he wasn’t sure what to do. I suggested putting the caption phone in the office and then said, “Oh, but that won’t work because there is only one jack and it is being used.” The Goose said, “What’s a jack?” (Not now, kid.) The old man said that wasn’t a problem because he had a splitter for the jack. Seriously??? After 30 minutes of searching for a jack and rearranging the kitchen counter to fit the phone, he told me he had a splitter for the jack? At this point, I was ready to bang my head, and the phone wasn’t even plugged in yet.
The man began installing the phone. Now, don’t be too impressed by that. “Installing” the phone meant taking it out of the box, plugging it into the wall and plugging it into a jack. (“What’s a jack?”) When he said he had to set it up on the wireless internet, I had a sinking feeling that I was going to be there for a while. He kept talking and talking and talking as he worked. My poor mother couldn’t hear him well enough to know what he was saying, and she kept asking him to repeat himself. He was just babbling anyway, so there was no point in repeating himself, but he did. Much to my surmise, he did. He made sound effects as he worked.
Old man: “You just click this here and ‘vvvrrrppp,’ it works.”
Old man: “You just click this here and ‘vvrrrppp,’ it works.”
Old man: “Now you do this and , “pfffffttt.”
Old man: "Now you do this and, "pffffttt."
You get the point. I thought I was going to lose my mind.
The old man finally had the phone plugged in and set up, but it would not connect to the internet. He checked the phone and said it had a dial tone. The Goose asked, “What’s a dial tone?” The old man kept insisting that it had something to do with the wireless connection since it had a dial tone. The Goose again said, “What’s a dial tone?” He said maybe if he unplugged it from the jack and plugged it in again, that would help. The Goose said, “What’s a jack?”
I knew good and well that it wasn’t a problem with the wireless connection because it showed that it was connected. He tried to say the wireless must be having problems and maybe it was the modem. (What I wanted to say was, “Oh, yes. Maybe it is the modem. Do you have floppy disc you can insert to fix that?” I controlled myself. - And for those of you who did not understand that last statement, the local community college offers computer classes. You might want to consider it). I told him that the system said there was a problem with the account, but he insisted that it was the connection. I gave up discussing it and waited for him to draw his own conclusions. Finally, he decided to call tech support. (By the way, I think I’ve found the most dreadful job in the world….tech support for a phone company for old people.)
The tech guy answered, and the old man told him what was going on. The tech guy said he needed to unplug the phone from the jack and from the power. The Goose said, “What’s a jack?” I told her to go away. The old man would not listen and was talking over the tech guy, saying he had already unplugged the phone. The tech guy said, “I know you have, but I need you to do it again.” The old man proceeded to talk even louder and say he had already done it. The tech guy calmly said, “As I was trying to say, you need to unplug the phone and let me reset the account. Then, you can plug it back in.” The conversation I just described sounds easy enough. Actually, it went round and round about 5 more times before the old man listened. Finally, he said, “Well, that’s what I thought. There is something wrong with the account.” (“Thud…thud…thud…” That’s the sound of me, banging my head.)
By this point, I was ready to cry. I really was not in a good mood when I got to my parents’ house, and this old man was not helping me any. He got the system up and running and said, “Now. I’ll teach you how to use it,” looking at me. I told him I was sure I could figure it out. He said he would just go through the book with me to teach me everything I needed to know. I again said I was sure if I couldn’t figure it out, that my husband or my kids could teach us. He said he just wanted to make sure I knew what I needed to be able to help my mother. So, remembering those blogs about the fruit of the spirit that I have been writing, I decided to take my patience out for a test-drive. And, let me tell you, I got my driver’s license in patience that day!
Two and a half hours after I first entered my parent’s house, the old man finished his very, very thorough explanation of everything I ever wanted to know about a caption phone but was afraid to ask. He asked if my mother understood everything, and she just gave a blank stare. He asked if she had any questions, and again, she stared straight ahead. All I could think was, “No, Mama. Please, please don’t ask anything.” My mother finally snapped out of her coma and opened her mouth to ask something. Quickly, I said, “I’m sure I can show you everything you need, and if I can’t, Mr. E can.” Mama nodded compliantly. Thank you, Mama.
The old man kept chatting as he packed up his stuff. He finally left, and Mama, the Goose and I all breathed a collective sigh. I’m pretty sure I even heard Nugget (the tiny Yorkie) breathe a little sigh. I walked the old man out to his car and watched him pull away. I’ve never been happier to see anyone leave in my entire life. I went back inside and was just about to say how happy I was for him to be gone, when I looked up to see him at the screen door. He had forgotten something. Fifteen minutes and more talking later, he was on to spread his technological knowledge with some other poor, unsuspecting soul. If I had known where he was headed, I could have called to warn them, but I figured, at this point, it was every man for himself. I was just happy for him to be gone! -Al