I walked into the Verizon store on Garth Road recently. Under my arm was my Xfinity modem. It’s quite substantial in size. Nothing like the flat 14.4 BPS Linksys router I proudly bragged on back in day that let me grab data from the mysterious electronic signals from my telephone wire (please don’t call my house and bump me off the bulletin boards!).
I was greeted by 3 younger punk-based humans who’s style of dress suggested they were highly knowledgeable of the modern technology products offered, most of which I had no interest in. At first I thought they were European, possibly German, as they had that “look”. It was one of those magical days when no one was in the store but them and me and when asked what they could do for me, I held up the modem and loudly declared, “I need help with my computer”.
Just like my wrong conclusion that they were Germans, this incorrect description caused a snicker of techno self-righteousness from the trio. One of the emo-stylish humans (I wasn’t sure of the gender of each) repeated my assertion in a question and again the giggles. With a look on my face of extreme vulnerability I said, “Yea, I think this one’s a 386.”
The Intel 80386, also known as i386 or just 386, was a 32-bit microprocessor introduced in 1985, but my statement drew a blank look as to content. Instead was… pity. Pity that as a senior citizen, wearing shorts, socks and Crocs, a faded green Keep Baytown Beautiful shirt, and an old Jeep baseball cap that looked as old as me, I had sadly let technology pass me by.
With an air of aloofness, this human individual took possession of my “386” device and marched off toward the back of store, exclaiming that that particular “computer” was out of date and after scanning it, located a shrink-wrapped identical replacement and handed it to me. By the way, did you know that you must download an Ap to your smart phone to program the new modem? Yea, kind of surprised me too. My emo-human did not mention that tidbit, thereby indicating it was plug and pray – just like the old days. Plug and play was Microsoft’s modus operandi and more times than not, didn’t work as advertised, thus the pray part.
He/she returned to the mini-pod of waiting emo service technicians and ignored me. As I headed past the knowledgeable group, one said, “Enjoy your computer!” and again the troop giggled. I thanked them and smiling, replied, “Do you even know what a 386 is?” The total absence of recognition flooded their faces, which was rapidly replaced by boredom and a return to their screens. I was no longer their concern.
“Google it,” I said, but deliberately replaced the G with a J, making it sound like I said Joogle it,” and left. Now here is the weird thing about these Xfinity modems, I replaced my modem 6 months ago with the one I turned in. I replaced it initially because chatting online with the company, I was told mine was a dinosaur and it was. Now 6 months later, I was again told the same thing and if I wanted to experience “blazing fast speeds” I need the newest model. My emo tech told me the one I turned in was “really old” as they scrutinized me. I felt they were getting a “two fer”, me being number two.
“No one has used one like this in like forever, like really forever” they said and scanned, swiped, clicked, and basically showed me how real techies do it. The word impressive must have crossed my mind, as I was boring and old and technology obviously had passed me by. To them, we had nothing in common, except maybe a smart phone and I noticed when they grouped back up, all 3 had their faces buried in their phones. My phone was in my Jeep. I could go 10 minutes without it.
You’ve all seen it and experienced the same if you have a few gray hairs, or maybe an absence of hair altogether. Its okay, I had fun and within minutes of getting home, my new blazing fast modem was up and running. Oh, by the way, you might need a new modem, just don’t call it a... computer.