Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Yesterday, Tuesday, I had a strange experience with technology.  On Monday I was in Florida at the condo my brother and I inherited three years ago today.  I was there because the air conditioning unit needed what is called a "tune up."  If I did not have this done in early March I would have lost the opportunity to have it so tuned up for reasons that are related to a contract we have with a vendor.

So, I was given an 8-12 time slot for Monday.  I was parked in the house with my phone in my hand starting at 745 a.m.  When, at noon, nobody appeared, I called the business.  I was told that he would be there any time now.  When, at one, nobody appeared, I called the business.  The technician was "just finishing up a job" and would be there shortly.  At 130 the technician called to say he was on his way.

At 2 pm in came a technician who looked like he had heard that I was sore.  I explained that I had no beef with this poor shnook who probably just goes where the business tells him to go.  And probably hears an earful from frustrated customers at every stop.  Twenty minutes and some friendly conversation later, the air conditioner was tuned up. I signed a document and all was well in the world.  Sure I had only a few hours of Florida sunlight left, but hey, there are worse problems.

It was cool on Monday night for Florida. I took a walk and needed a long sleeve shirt and even with that it was a bit brisk.

I woke up on Tuesday and noticed that the air conditioner was not working. Just great.  Less than 24 hours after it was tuned, the thing that had been working before it was tuned, now--tuned--was not functioning. I figured it had to be something minor that the technician had done inadvertently.  So, I go to call the business using my cell as we have no landline at the condo.

I see that the call is going out, but I hear no ringing at the other end.  I try again. No ringing.  I call another number, the call apparently is going out, but no ringing.  I go to the cafe in the complex and ask someone to call me.  She tries. Her call goes directly to voice mail.

Just great. The air conditioner does not work.  I am leaving for the airport in a few hours, and I can't contact the business.  My laptop is functioning so I have to write to my brother in New Jersey and ask him to call the company and set up an appointment.  I tell him I have to be out of the condo by two.

In my car I go and drive to an A T and T place. They reset the phone (not before trying to sell me a new phone) and the phone works.  I call my brother. He tells me that he has made an appointment for 1 oclock (they promised) for a technician to see what the trouble is.  I drive back to the condo.

Yesterday, go figure, it had gotten warmer in Florida so I am warmer myself in the not air conditioned unit.  Also, go figure, the technician is not there at 1.  I go to call the business as I have to leave at 2 for my flight.  The phone does not work.  I shut it off. I turn it on and it works. I call the company and they tell me that the guy is just finishing up a job and will be there in ten minutes.  I have heard this refrain several times in the last day and a half and now know that the person who is giving me the likely time of arrival is full of fecal matter.   When the repairman does not appear at 130 I go to call the business. The phone does not work.  I'm having just a wonderful day.  I shut the phone off, and turn it on.  The phone works. I call the business and the spewer of false information tells me that the repairman is on his way.  Sure.

At 2 he shows up. Another poor shnook who is just going where they tell him to go.  In thirty seconds he sees that his colleague who was there yesterday had turned a dial one way while tuning the air conditioner  and had forgotten to turn it back.  Zip zip the air conditoner is fixed. I get in the car to drive to the airport. I go to call my brother to tell him all is well and the condo will not melt.  The phone does not work.

So, today during lunch hour I go to the apple store which is an enormous three story building in prime real estate on Boylston street in Boston. If you ever want to know why your ipad costs what it does, go check out this building.  Must cost a sweet bundle to rent the spot.

When I walk into the building I see, all over the first floor (and then later I see them all over all floors) an army of smiling 20 somethings with ipads. They are all there to deal with guys like me who either want to buy a product or more likely need service.  The fellow I deal with is wearing a sock hat inside and duds that are a college student's attire except for an apple tee shirt.  He is all positive when I tell him what I need. He tells me that a technician will be with me in 45 minutes. The guy pokes at his ipad and I get a text telling me that I will get another text when they are ready for me. I ask if there is a Starbucks nearby. He says there is. I say I will go there. He says "Awesome."

I take a walk to the Starbucks a half block down.  A 20 something woman with green hair says "awesome" when I ask for an egg sandwich and coffee. When I ask her if I should swipe my card or use the chip, she tells me to swipe.  When I do so, she says "Awesome." I sit down, sip my coffee, pick up my sandwich when my awesome sandwich is ready.  I take a number of bites in my sandwich when I am buzzed to be informed that the technician is ready for me.

Back I go to the Apple Store with smiling apple shirted believers swarming around.  One such smiling kid says I should go to the third floor. I walk up the stairs, see more smiling children on the second floor. I walk to the third floor. There are dozens of swarming smiling Apple people there. Every one is saying terrific or fantastic to whomever they are chatting with. I go to a counter. I tell the smiling kid there that I was buzzed. She asks my name. I tell her. She pokes her ipad and says, ALAN! like I am someone she has been looking forward to seeing and is now delighted that I have arrived.

I say, yes, I am Alan.  She says, "Awesome."  Then tells me to sit down on a bench and a techie will come out to check out my phone.

I sit down and feel like a very old guy.  I have to be forty years older than every smiling apple-person. These people look like they have found religion and have taken some drugs along the way. They are all so smiley and happy looking like they have found the right route to spiritual salvation.

My mental meanderings and thoughts that I am ancient are interrupted by a young smiling woman in an apple shirt with a ring in her nose who says she is "looking for Alan!"  I tell her she found me, but feel like asking if she is old enough to drink.

She sits down and tries to explain what might be wrong with the phone and what she is going to do to try and remedy it.  I swear I do not understand a single complete sentence she is uttering. I get a few words here and there, but if I have to take a listening comprehension test when this is over I will fail miserably.  I ask some questions which sound to me, let alone to her, as if I am saying something like,  "So you think that 2 and 2 is 4?"  And she is trying to be patient with me and smile.

She takes the phone to a backroom and I sit on a stool near a long bench on which sits maybe thirty IMACs for those who are waiting or are just meandering about.  Back comes the 20 year old and tells me what she did and how I can do it myself.  Yeah, right, I think.  She sees my doubt and shows me. "You just hit this, and then you hit that, and then you hit that, and you are all set."

By the time I get to the second floor I am sure the technology will have changed so the instructions she gave me will be worthless.  I pass, not kidding, at least twenty more apple clad smiling people and I feel like I have just spent time in a building that a cult has rented.

I ask someone on my way out, how she became so knowledgeable about this stuff.  "Just by playing around" she says.

When I got back to the office I spotted something on the net about the best places for people to retire.  I went through the list.

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