Tie my shoes please

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sometimes it takes a kid’s point of reference to let us comprehend an everyday life reality. A recent Dennis the Menace cartoon aptly describes this very human conflict.

In the cartoon, Dennis is striding across the floor of the family kitchen holding a cookie in one hand, while he’s eating another. His mother and father are watching him with looks that only the parents of Dennis the Menace could display. Dennis’ father remarks to his wife, “He can program the DVR, but he doesn’t know how to tie his shoes?”

Has there ever been a parental reflection that displayed better insight? When it comes to the advancements of civilization, children always seem to be just a bit ahead of the average adult. Even though they seem to accept and understand new technology, they still have to go through the regular growing pains of early childhood development that have always existed.

Each of us has similar experiences to offer as evidence of this process. Our house is quite long and the Internet Wi-Fi is connected in the furthest room from my own bedroom. In order to receive a Wi-Fi signal strong enough for use in my room, I had to purchase something knows as a “repeater,” a few years ago.

One time this contraption had to be completely “rebooted.” I wonder who came up with “reboot,” and why did they pick that word? In any case, I was unable to make heads or tails of the instructions that accompanied my repeater device.

I called my son in Seattle and he patiently, as he has on more than one occasion, walked me through the necessary steps, to revive my repeater. I was very thankful, but also a bit chagrinned. It is difficult to accept that you are not only getting older with all that that entails, you are also becoming more and more tech savvy inept.

A recent event happened to a friend that is one more another example of this trend. My friend called me on his “land line” phone. You remember these home telephones, which were once the staple of every modern day American household? Sadly, more and more individuals are disconnecting these phones, preferring to use only cell phones.

When my friend called, he informed me that he had lost his cell phone. He asked me to call his cell number to see if he could hear it ring, hoping he had perhaps lost it in some hidden area of his home, such as perhaps in the cushion of a chair. My return call did not elicit a location, however.

I called him back on the landline, and asked him if he had contacted his cell phone provider, to disconnect his cell phone. He was a bit shocked to realize, that this was necessary in case someone else had found his phone, which would allow them to use it.

His provider not only was able to cancel the old phone connection, they also gave him one of the newer “smart” style cell phones. His older cell had been one of those early models, which is no longer available to customers.

He came for a visit later that day and we spent the better part of an hour practicing some of the rudimentary steps one has to learn to be able to properly use of one of these new fangled smart phones — (I could only give him the basics, as my own usage skills are quite limited).

During this learning period I reminded my friend that this was just the beginning for him. I explained that these phones offer a multitude of uses and we barely scratched the surface that day.

Due to a stroke and loss of significant eyesight, I have not been able to drive a vehicle, for the past 15 years. I own a 13-year-old Chevy Suburban and I am lucky to have friends and family who drive me to various destinations.

Despite its maturity, the Suburban is still in great condition. I don’t use it too often, so I have no plans to replace it anytime soon. Having said that, there are some aging issues that have to be addressed on a regular basis.

The stereo radio, clock, disc player device, had begun to experience some issues a couple of years ago. I finally was forced to have a completely new more up to date version installed. This new model contained many new features, including a backup camera.

It has a touch screen instead of knobs or buttons, so it requires a bit more knowledge to effectively operate. Last month when daylight savings required a clock adjustment, I noticed that the time in the Suburban had not changed.

The clocks on my cell phone and satellite television automatically adjust without any input from me when those time changes happen. As I pondered the efforts it would require to spring forward my radio clock I made a very “old fogey” choice. Rather than call some expert, or spend several stressful minutes trying to decipher the instruction manual steps, I chose to just leave the clock on the old time.

Now when I am in the vehicle, I simply look at the time on the radio clock and mentally add an hour. This method will suffice until next fall, when we go back on regular time.

There is an embarrassing note regarding this choice. The Suburban has a satellite connection called Onstar. If I knew how to enable it, the radio could be “paired” (another modern day tech term). This would allow my clock to change automatically, just like my smart phone.

Instead, I have decided just to leave things as they are for now. The world is changing faster than I can keep up. If I live long enough I will most likely be in a place where they will need to tie my shoes for me, just like Dennis. It makes me wonder, however, will I need a smart phone to order my oatmeal?