It’s amazing how fast technology changes. In my work life, I’ve gone from faxes being the primary form of electronic communication, to using AOL for “electronic mail” (that’s what we called it in the day), to getting multiple hundreds of emails daily.
A few short years ago we were all gaga over a phone called the Motorola RAZR. It was a small, thin flip phone that could easily fit in your pocket. Then, Steve Jobs and Apple changed the world with the introduction of the iPhone. Now when you see a flip phone you laugh at the person trying to text message on it’s multi-tap keypad.
In the work world, and maybe more important in life, if you don’t adapt to the speed with which technology is changing you will be left behind. To be forever branded old.
Here’s the the thing. I’m middle-aged. I’m my Dad when I was in high school.
I. Have. Become. My. Dad.
Yup, there you go. I’ve said it. That’s a weight off my back, which is good since your back is one of the first things to go when you get old.
However, I’m doing my best to keep up with the tech train so as to not be left behind standing on the platform at the station. There are so many times when I can see the train pulling away. And still, I run to jump through the door before it closes. Meanwhile, my kids are constantly reminding me that the trains are getting faster and that I’ve got a bum knee.
Yet, believe it or not, there are some situations where I’m still the go-t0-guy for all things tech. Where people consult me. Yes, ME! Where I’m considered the expert!
While I’m feeling old in my house, the reality is, I’m still young when compared to my Dad and Father-In-Law. I’ve still got it in my head that I can catch that train. They on the other hand are thinking, “Damn those trains are fast. Whatever, I’ve got my electric golf cart. I’m good.”
They’ve accepted that technology is for the most part beyond them. They are the ones still have a flip phone. They’re the ones who when something isn’t working quite right on their 8 year old formerly shiny object, call the 1-800-help-me number and stay on hold for an hour vs. doing a quick Google search and trying to take care of it themselves.
This past weekend was a prime example of my being called upon for my expertise as I paid a visit with the family to my in-laws house for the weekend. Being the only semi-technical relation within a three-state radius of the in-laws’s it’s pretty much my job to be their tech support.
So, here’s how a typical visit works.
After a busy kid-filled morning at our house running from one event to another, we load up the family truckster and head over the river and through the woods to the in-law’s.
Upon the arrival, we go through the requisite hugs and unpacking of 5 days worth of stuff for a 2 day visit then we settle down. My MIL starts in with, “Can I get you something to eat? You look like you need something to eat.” MIL to Mrs. CV, “CV looks hungry. Does he need some food?”
This goes on until I acquiesce. After all these years, I know she’s just trying to build up my energy stores for what’s coming. Wait for it…
In comes my FIL: Hey, CV, good to see you guys. Can I get you a beer?
Me: I’m good, maybe later.
FIL: Come on, you sure you don’t want a beer?
Me: Oh OK sure, but only if you are drinking.
FIL: So how’s life? Work good?
Me: Yep, busy but good.
FIL: Rat race it is. So, I’ve got a question….
And, so it begins.
FIL: Can you give me a hand transferring photos from my camera to my PC again? It doesn’t seem to be working and I really need to send some pics to the family.
Me: <sigh, didn’t we do this the last 3, no 10 times I was here?>
FIL: I know I’m doing something wrong, and well…awww forget it. You don’t need to do spend your time helping this old dog learn new tricks.
Me: No really, it’s OK <dear God please let there be a power outage…wait…wait…nope none>. Grab your camera, let’s grab that beer and we’ll tackle this.
After popping open my beer, I walk over to their desk and lift the lap top lid open. Of course. It’s powered off.
After a typical Windows machine power up of oh, roughly 10 minutes and one beer later, I’m greeted with the nightmare I knew was coming.
The Windows Update screen and the following message:
You have 8 critical updates!
We’re gonna need more beer.
Me: I tell you what, this is going to take a while <because you have first generation DSL that is slower than most government office fax machines> why don’t I go ahead and plow through this and you can go play with the kids. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.
Roughly an hour later, I’ve got all the updates and forced restarts done.
Me: Hey FIL I’m ready, where’s that camera?
FIL: Excellent, we should be able to do this before we start BBQ’ing.
Me: <unlikely> Sure!
So, with camera card inserted into the PC we begin.
FIL: Wait a minute, MIL! MIL! Where’s my yellow legal pad with all the instructions for how to get photos on the computer?”
See, each time I’m lulled into a false sense of security in that while we go through this exercise, FIL writes down every, single step on how to get pictures from the camera, to the PC and to the interwebs for all the family to share. But, for some reason <perhaps his chicken scratch short hand or my lack of patience…OK likely both> something usually goes wrong in our educational process.
FIL: OK got my notes <flips page, flips, flips, flips…flips> ah here we are.
Step by step. By step. By step we go through the process and then click the Upload button. And, are greeted by the lovely “Time Remaining Until Complete” dialog box with a number that can only mean one thing: I’m going to be spending more than a weekend here waiting for this to finish.
We’re gonna need more beer.
So, as we go through the ritual of dinner at the in-laws, I periodically check the progress bar: Shit 20%. Really?
Alas, somewhere after the 4th (or was it 5th) bottle of wine and a couple glasses of Port for desert it’s done!
You know what? Being the VP of Family IT isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But, I must say, the pay I receive in the form of kick-ass meals and wine, along with the benefits I get seeing my kids giggle and having a great time with the in-laws is worth it <clearly the alcohol is talking>.
So, while I close the lid on the laptop knowing that I’ll be right back here in a couple months doing the same thing, I smile knowing that these family moments are really few and far between.
Then I open the lid of the Advil and shudder at the hangover I’m going to have in the morning.