Over the weekend I tried to help a friend figure out how to Facetime with her grandson. My friend has not bitten the bullet and switched over to the addictive smartphone, but she has a castoff from her daughter that will work with wifi. An in person lesson didn’t quite do it. She could Facetime me, but somehow not her grandson. So there we were the next day, trying to figure out the problem over the phone.
My friend has some tech skills. She can program her DVR, use a computer, and text on her not so smart phone, but it’s only when you are trying to explain things to someone new to a new gadget that you realize how much vocabulary and know-how you have come to take for granted. Swipe up! Push the home button. Try holding the power button down. Find the icon that…. It gave me some sympathy for my kids when they try to explain tech to me. I master one gadget and they replace it with another.
If you were an adult by the 90’s you remember the avalanche of technology that defined the decade- cell phones, Blackberries, pagers, not to mention the World Wide Web, digitized answering machines, next generation video games, and digitized home appliances large and small.
I remember getting a bread maker for Christmas one year. I got out the directions, assembled my ingredients, and pushed things out of the way on the counter to make space for its giant footprint. I made the first call to the bread maker support line when I couldn’t get the pan firmly attached to the base and it was jumping around violently. The friendly young man on the other end of the line talked me through getting the pan clicked in. I thanked him for his help and hung up.
Mixing was noisy but seemed to be going along okay until I heard beeping. Consulting the manual, the machine was supposed to beep twice when it was time to add additional ingredients, like the raisins in raisin bread. But it wasn’t that time. So I picked up the phone and called the friendly support man back. He asked questions, suggested checking various things, asked about the scheduled beeping, and finally sounded a bit concerned.
“I’m sorry,”he said. “But I really don’t know what could be causing that. As long as the machine is working right otherwise, you’re probably okay to let it run, but keep an eye on it and unplug it if you have any other problems.”
So we let it run and it made a wonderful, toasty brown loaf of homemade bread.
It was only later, after I turned off the bread maker and put it away, that I found my husband’s pager beeping away on the counter behind it.