The damn thing became directionally challenged.
Most often I talk about writing, bad stuff that happens when you don’t write, and the challenges of writing bad stuff.
But today I want to talk about technology and how crazy it makes me. It’s really kind of an embarrassing topic for me though. I’ve been in the technology field for almost twenty five years and I barely know how to use my smart phone.
You think the reason they’re called smart is because phones these days are so smart they can do it all don’t you?
They can get your Email, share video Face Time with friends, take photos sharper than a traditional camera, and offer you a shit load of different apps created to help you manage your day.
Nope, that’s not why they call them smart. They’re called smart phones because they can only be operated by a smart person.
Therein lies the rub. My phone is smarter than me. Technology is smarter than me and that’s fucking scary.
Because I’m supposed to be the cat who services technology when it goes off the deep end.
Anyway, yesterday morning, I stumbled out of bed around seven, grabbed a cup of coffee then sat down in front of our computer upstairs.
Note to everyone.
We have computers upstairs and downstairs in our split level home. That way, we are accessible to the world regardless of what part of the house we’re in.
I guess both my wife and I suffer a bit from FOMO.
Normally I sit in the kitchen sipping my Community Medium Blend (Yes, the coffee is really named Community Medium Blend. Nice touch don’t you think?) and sip and sit and sit and sip some more as I ponder what I want to write about. Then I do a quick stat check on Medium.
And that’s when my day went upside fucking down.
In my house, because I’m the so called technology expert (Ha! Right!) there are five words which, when spoken at any time of the day or night, can decalcify my spine.
“<Insert appropriate moniker — baby, dad, pops, hey> the internet’s not working.”
Oh my fucking GAWD, I hate those five words.
Yesterday morning as I sat and sipped my coffee, I opened my browser, cruised the mouse pointer over to my favorites, selected Medium and there it was, the dreaded message.
“We’re sorry, but you’re not connected to the internet P.G.. Since you’re the alleged technology guy in the house you better get your fucking ass all over this situation.”
“You know the missus is about to get up and God help you when she discovers she can’t get email or place that Amazon order ya’ll discussed last night.”
“Oh and a couple of things you need to remember before we close your browser and let you eat yourself to death with panic.”
“Each Saturday you pay your bills electronically (you need me, the internet to do that asshole) and you were going to write another article on Medium today.”
“Guess what? Not going to happen until you fix whatever shit just broke.”
What? Your computer doesn’t talk to you like that?
Suffice it to say, this isn’t the first time our in home technologies have flipped me the middle finger. I know how to deal with their idle threats.
I just take the stairs down to the den (With the lights on this time. Last time I fell and almost broke a hip) open up the computer cabinet then unplug the power to the router. I wait a ten count then plug the power back in and bada bing, bada boom, the Barnett household is back in business.
But not this time.
I knew I had an issue the very minute I swung the cabinet door open. For several seconds I stared at the router and then I felt a trickle of sweat begin to make its way down the crevice of my back.
There was a single light flickering on the router. The power light. All the other lights which indicated internet traffic and connection activity were off.
I knew it wasn’t going to help but I unplugged the power and plugged it back in again.
Same thing, one tiny little light.
My router had just become directionally challenged and stopped routing.
My original plan for the day was to gas up my vehicle, get the oil changed then come back and sit in the office all day writing, but when my router decided to stop routing, I knew I was in for a trip to the local electronics store.
Well, I sucked it up, put my boots on (I live in Texas you know) slapped on my Browning baseball cap (Again, Texas) and got in my Ford F-150 (Yes, now you can go ahead and stereotype my ass) and headed out.
Oh, I almost forgot. It was raining like a MoFo.
No problem for the gas and the oil change. I was under a canopy for the fill up and for the oil change, sitting in the waiting room watching a television show about speed boat racing.
I was making good time. It was about nine in the morning and I figured I’d just jet over to the electronics store, pick up another router and have that sucker back online by ten.
Did I tell you it was raining?
By the time I pulled into the store’s parking lot it was raining so hard It seemed like a monsoon had struck. I sat in the truck telling myself there was no fucking way the rain was going to let up soon so if I was going to do this I needed to, just do it.
That’s when I saw an employee of the store skipping across the parking lot. I’d recognize those powder blue polo shirts they wear anywhere. She had a jacket over her head and was dodging puddles like she was playing a game of high speed hop scotch. As she neared the entrance the electric doors whooshed open and she walked in.
Perfect, the store was open.
I got out, and headed across the parking lot, stoically tilting my head against the torrential onslaught, getting drenched as I headed toward the front entrance. It was then I saw the electronic doors open and the same young woman poke her head through the opening.
“Sir your fly is open,” she yelled.
I shook my head and kept walking in her direction.
I was one hundred percent positive I’d zipped up after I took my cautionary pee this morning before leaving the house. She yelled at me again.
“The store’s not open sir.”
I stopped and stared at the young woman. Rain was pouring in streams from the bill of my baseball cap. My spectacles were peppered with droplets so bad I could hardly see. My blue jeans were clinging to me like shrink wrap.
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“No sir, we don’t open until ten.”
I dropped my head with disgust, turned round and battered my way through the sheets of rain back to my truck. Fumbling with my keys, I started Old Blue (A.K.A the Smurfmobile) and stared at the clock in the dashboard.
There was no fucking way I was going to sit in the parking lot of an electronics store for forty minutes.
I texted my wife I was coming home (yeah I’ve finally learned how to do that) and then drove home and waited it out with another cup of coffee until ten rolled around.
I guess God decided I’d had enough trials for the morning because by the time I reached the store’s parking lot again the rain had lessened considerably. I was able to make it across the parking lot and into the store dry as a bone.
Well, that’s not exactly true. My jeans were still damp and so was the cloth bound seat of my truck.
I was still a little moist okay?
After spending almost forty five minutes picking out a router, I paid for it (the price has doubled since I bought the original router damn it) and drove home. On the way I kept telling myself, “Just read the instructions and follow them step by step and you’ll have it done in no time.”
All I had to do was RTFM. Read The Fucking Manual.
Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and the manual consisted of a single glossy piece of paper about the size of a regular playing card. There were three steps, three simple steps to install this router.
Step One — Download the installation app from the Google Play Store.
Step Two — Go to the app.
Step Three — Follow the instructions on the app.
Step Four — Lean over backward and kiss your ass goodbye, ’cause you don’t know how to work your phone well enough to download anything.
No, there wasn’t a step four, but there should be for people like me.
I thought about boxing the new router up and taking it back, but then I thought of things more frightening than being forced to learn new technology.
My wife won’t be able to order groceries online like she normally does.
Oh, that’s not good. I like to fucking eat.
I won’t be able to pay my bills electronically.
Oh, that’s almost as bad as not eating. Besides, I don’t even know where the fucking checkbooks are.
I won’t be able to post anything on Medium.
Oh dear fucking God, please take me now. I can’t go on living if I can’t post on Medium.
So I downloaded the app (after about seventeen false starts and me almost biting a hole in my lip in angered frustration) and then started the app and followed the instructions, page by well written and concisely articulated page.
In less than fifteen minutes the new router was routing, our computers and phones were connecting and my fingers were flying over my keyboard as I began to write this article.
Sometimes technology can be the overwhelm folks.
Sometimes, outcomes aren’t derived by doing things the way we used to do them. We have to understand there’s always a better way to fix the wheel when it’s broken, a faster and more efficient way to get things done.
When my router stopped routing I learned a valuable lesson.
There’s no reason to be scared of evolving technology. Yes, It evolves at the speed of light and yes, it’s hard to keep up with it sometimes, but it’s here to help us get shit done.
Think of it this way. If you can come up with a better way to get shit done there’s probably an app that’s already been built for it and you can download it to your smartphone and get that shit done in no time.
Just don’t call me to install it.
I’m still trying to figure out how to send photos with my text messages.
Let’s keep in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org