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Wishing You Were In A Windowless World

, , , , , | Related | January 24, 2023

This happens back in the days of Windows XP. Many of my family members are able to do simple computer tasks like browsing the web, playing games, etc., but I am known as the family “computer genius” due to my ability to perform such wizardry as Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V and “Save As”. I have also learned to do some basic troubleshooting, so one day, my mom calls me up as she’s having some trouble with her laptop.

I arrive and spend quite some time poking around her system to be sure what the problem is. Eventually, I tell her that this looks like one of those problems that can be most easily fixed by reinstalling Windows, and I advise her that we need to transfer any files she wants to keep to an external medium.

We spend some time searching for a USB stick and going through her system to determine what she wants to save. At this point, I’ve spent more than three hours on her system and am finally ready to reinstall Windows.

Mom: “You know what? I don’t think you really need to do that. I have a warranty with [Big Box Electronic Store]; I’ll take it to them and have them fix it.”

Me: *Stares in shock*

I tried, to no avail, to convince her to just let me finish and she could be up and running again within the hour. She insisted on taking it to [Big Box Electronics Store].

They had quite a few repair orders in, so she had to wait two weeks to get her machine back. When she went to pick it up, they informed her that software issues were not covered by her warranty, and she had to pay them $150.

Guess how they fixed her problem? They reinstalled Windows.

A Green Light On Generational Silliness

, , , , , , , | Related | January 23, 2023

When I was in the first grade, my dad showed me how magical he was; he could make a red light turn green simply by opening and closing his car door!

He had the opportunity to do that a few more times before he and Mom divorced when I was about ten. I hadn’t figured it out by the time he pretty much disappeared for the next fifteen years.

I started doing that trick with my own kids when they were about five and seven. I didn’t overdo it — only once or twice a year and then only “when absolutely necessary.”

One morning, I got off work early and I was taking them to school. We got stopped at a large intersection heavy with traffic. I mentioned that we might not get to school right on time.

My son (nine then) suggested:

Son: “Hey, Dad, why don’t you make the light change so we won’t be late?”

Wow, I hadn’t thought of that.

Me: “Uh… well… See, all these other people are in a hurry, too, and I don’t wanna interrupt the flow of traffic until some of it clears out. I’ll change it in a minute.”

They were satisfied.

My own son now has two boys, in first and second grade. They came over the other day and one said:

Grandson: “Hey, Grandpa, my dad can make a red light turn green!”

Me: “Really! How does he do that?”

Grandson: “He turns on the windshield wiper two times, and it changes!”

I glanced at my son and we shared a small, silent smile.

Me: “Well, that’s good, but it sounds like he’d have a little trouble with that when it’s raining!”

At least he came up with his own magic.

When The Up-Selling Is Warranted

, , , , , | Right | January 22, 2023

A mother and her young son are buying a Nintendo Switch with me. The son is holding the display box as he’s excited and needs something to hold while his mother and I discuss the purchase.

Me: “And will you be purchasing our accidental damage cover?”

Mother: “Absolutely not. This is already too expensive!”

Me: “While $120 seems like a lot up front, it covers all accidental damage for two years. That’s just five dollars a month.”

Mother: “Are you implying that my son is an imbecile who will destroy his new toy?”

Me: “Not at all. I am simply stating that—”

With that, the young son sighs loudly in a fit of boredom, as we’re apparently taking too long. He throws the (thankfully empty) box across the store and knocks over another display item.

Me: “…that accidents do happen.”

Mother: *Staring at the box on the floor* “…Only five dollars a month, you say?”

Welcome To Helicopter-Con

, , , | Related | January 22, 2023

Every year, I do a family trip to a local convention. A few years ago, my infant daughter joined us and my helicopter-mom-turned-helicopter-grandmother invited herself along. While it was irritating, I did appreciate the help and bought her a ticket so she could enjoy the convention.

But instead, she sat in our hotel room the entire weekend, complaining that she had nothing to do. We tried suggesting museums in the area, parks, restaurants to try, etc. But no. She insisted she had to be there “to watch the baby”, invited herself on a trip that had nothing of interest to her, and then complained about being bored.

The global health crisis canceled the trip for a couple of years. The convention was back on this year, and we were looking forward to it. But Mom… wasn’t.

Mom: “Well, I didn’t have a good time last time, so I don’t really want to go this year.”

Me: “Okay, then don’t go.”

Mom: “But someone needs to watch [Daughter].”

Me: “I’m going to watch her. If needed, [Brother] said he doesn’t mind babysitting for a bit. I got a safety harness to keep her from wandering off and an information tag for her to wear in case we get separated. I’m also friends with half the staff. They know her and know how to contact me if needed.”

Mom: “I can still come, but only if you want me to. I just don’t want to sit in the hotel room all weekend like last time.”

This went on for several rounds before she finally decided not to go, but…

Mom: “I just don’t think it’s a good idea to take [Daughter] with you. I can babysit her over the weekend.”

Me: “That defeats the purpose of a ‘family’ trip. She’ll be fine.”

Mom: “What if she gets hurt at the event?”

Me: “There’s medical staff onsite, a first aid kit in my car, and a hospital ten minutes from the hotel.”

Mom: “You’ll need groceries while you’re there. And you know how picky she is.”

Me: “There’s a [Fast Food Place] around the corner, a mini-mart two blocks away, and a convenience store in our hotel. I’ve been visiting this area several times a year for over ten years. I know where everything is.”

Mom: “But how will you know they are open? You know how much milk she drinks. Do you even know if the hotel will have a fridge?”

Me: *Exasperated* “Yes! The hotel rooms always have one! We’ve been doing this trip for over a decade. And I’m the one that makes the arrangements because I know the f****** area. Can you trust me to take care of myself and my own kid for once?!”

My helicopter mom finally relented and stayed home. And wouldn’t you know it? We had a lovely trip and my daughter had a blast. And it turned out a mini-mart trip for milk wasn’t necessary; the hotel restaurant had milk cartons at their breakfast buffet and the staff were kind enough to let me take a few to my hotel room to meet “toddler demand”.

Really Phoning In That Phone Pick-Up

, , , , , | Friendly | January 22, 2023

When I get off the bus at my usual stop, I spot something shiny on a bench. Upon closer inspection, it turns out to be a relatively new iPhone. By the looks of it, the phone must have slipped out of someone’s pocket when they were waiting for the bus. I stand there for a moment, debating whether I should just leave it and hope the owner comes back for it or take care of it and try to track down the owner.

As I’m standing there, a text message pops up on the locked screen.

Message: “This phone has been lost. If found, call [number].”

All right. That makes things easier. I call the number from my own phone, and a young woman picks up. I can hear another young woman in the background.

Woman: “Yes?”

Me: “Hello, I’m [My Name]. I just found a cell phone.”

Woman: “You found it?”

Me: “Yes, it was on a bench by [Bus Stop]. I live nearby, so I can hang on to it if you want to come and pick it up.”

Woman: “We’re in [Other Town] right now. Can you bring it to us?”

I laugh, thinking she’s joking.

Me: “I just came from there, and I think one visit is more than enough for today.”

Woman: “Pleeeease? We’re on our way to a party, and my friend really needs her phone.”

I stop laughing. This woman is actually expecting me, a complete stranger, to pay for a two-hour round trip to another town to bring her a phone that her friend forgot.

Me: “Okay, here are your choices. You can pick up the phone at my house, which is a two-minute walk from the bus stop. I can mail it to you, at your expense. Or, I can turn it in to the police and you can pick it up there. Pick one, or I’m just going to leave the phone here on the bench and forget I ever saw it.”

Woman: “No, no, no! Don’t leave it! We’ll come pick it up!”

Me: “Okay, I’ll hold on to it, then. I live at [address]. When can I expect you?”

Woman: “The party starts at eight. I guess we’ll be back in [Hometown] around two?”

Me: “In the morning? I’ll be asleep by then. Can you come by tomorrow?”

Woman: “Ahhhh! Why does this have to be so difficult?! We’ll be in touch tomorrow, I guess. But my friend really needs her phone right now. What if something happens and she can’t call her parents?”

I explain to her, in the kindest words possible, that it is not my problem. I explain to her that I will take care of the phone for now, but if I don’t hear from them the next day, I will turn it in to the police. There is some extended whining on the other end of the line before they hang up.

I get home and start cooking dinner, and then I get a call from an unknown number. 

Me: “Hi, it’s [My Name].”

Man: “Hello, I’m [Man]. I understand you’ve found my daughter’s lost phone.”

Me: “I believe so. I spoke to a couple of young women earlier, but I didn’t get either of their names.”

Man: *Sighs* “Yes, that would be them. We live two blocks away from you. Can I come by and pick it up?”

Me: “I’d have to see some proof that it’s actually your daughter’s phone, but okay.”

Ten minutes later, a man rings my doorbell and introduces himself as the man I spoke to on the phone. I bring the iPhone, and he confirms that it is his daughter’s and proves it by unlocking it with the code she has provided.

Me: “I’m so glad we could find an easy way to do this. They wanted me to bring it to them in [Other Town].”

Man: “Sorry about that. My daughter called me from her friend’s phone and complained about it. Her brilliant solution to the problem was for me to pick it up and bring it to her.”

Me: “Will you?”

Man: “Absolutely not. My wife and I are having the night to ourselves and we’ve both had a drink before dinner. [Daughter] knew when she left that we wouldn’t be available to drive anywhere. She keeps telling us she’s an adult now and can do whatever she wants, so that means she gets to live with her mistakes, as well.”