Let me begin this post by stating that I am habitually late to the technology party. It's not my fault; it's genetic. My parents have an uncanny sense of timing, investing in gadgets mere moments before they become obsolete, and then continuing to use them for years afterward.
To wit, we purchased our first family computer, an Apple IIGS ,when I was in first or second grade, and at the time it was fairly state-of-the-art. Nine years after that, though, the twenty minutes it took to boot up no longer seemed amazing. I don't think my folks really got the concept that we would periodically have to buy updated machines. In retrospect, my first clue should have been the fact that the IIGS was housed in the same room as their 8-track player.
We also got a VCR pretty early on in the VCR timeline. True to form, we got a Betamax, and soon found that there were about 4 movies available for us to rent at the video store, and three of them were in Yugoslavian.
These days I am considered the technology wizard of the family, a distinction based jointly on my age, my ownership of a DVD player, and the fact that I've successfully downloaded music. I do not, however, currently own an iPod, as it seems like they come out with a new one every two weeks and I'm afraid of not having the bestest one, so I'm consequently holding off on buying it until they come out with a model that not only plays audio and video, but projects an interactive, holographic image of Clive Owen into my bedroom.
I have to confess, though, that I have zero patience for attempting to explain technical things to my parents. I find it completely exasperating. I realize that a lot of it has to do with their age, in that they didn't grow up around computers and other digital doohickeys and are just fundamentally unfamiliar with them. I also realize that my own understanding of this stuff would seem pathetic and underdeveloped to the average 9-year-old, but my blood pressure inevitably rises every time my dad calls me and says "how do I make the box disappear?" or my mother inquires just how, exactly, does The Email work? Which is why what occurred last night is so very special in my mind.
So, here's what happened: Based on a sudden and inexplicable desire to have the capability to read The Superficial from my kitchen, I decided that I needed wireless internet access at home. I called Verizon, provider of my DSL, and inquired into what I needed to accomplish this. I was told it was nothing more than a wireless router and network card. Easy peasy.
I gallivanted into Staples last night, purchased said equipment and breezily made my way home, thinking that my ability to read instruction manuals would be all I needed to install the hardware and be on my way to multi-room Googling.
Oh how very wrong I was.
Apparently, one needs a degree in astrophysics (with a minor in transcendental meditation) to install this shit. There are codes. And plugs. And prayers. Sure, the hardware comes with an installation CD, and you pop it in thinking it's going to guide you step by step, but all it really does is quantify why, precisely, you are a moron.
I'm not saying I cried, but two hours into the process, I must say I did feel a little misty. I figured I'd have to call one of those consultant-type people to come to my house and do it for me, (and in my defense, the 'pay someone to do it for you' tendency is also genetic). I felt incredibly stupid and useless, as I am 26 years old and should have a pretty good grasp of this stuff. When I'm sixty and we all live on the moon and I can't figure out how to get the wizzburt to flangit the humptybip, then I'll resort to consultants. But it's not yet the time.
So I called Verizon, fully expecting to be told to either call Linksys, who made the router and network card, (which would have been a reasonable, if annoying, response), or that a technician would have to come to my house, which is a world of shit I do not need.
But incredibly, miraculously, astonishingly, a nice young man answered the phone who not only spoke intelligible English but did what no installation CD could do -- he held my hand through the telephone and made it all okay. It took 45 minutes and was ridiculously complicated, but he was a gentle and caring lover. And when, at the end of our affair, he asked if he had "met my expectations," I replied that he had, in fact, exceeded them. And then we shared a cigarette.
So props to Verizon customer service. I never thought I'd say that, (the word "props" or the praise of a large and seemingly heartless corporation), but it's true. As I wandered around my house with my laptop last night, I felt like Bill Motherfucking Gates, and that, my friends, is quite a feeling.