Friday, January 23, 2015

Little Known Dangers of e-Gadgets

Dear George,
I don’t know why, but technology makes me anxious.  Maybe it’s because the cutting edge devices in my youth were ballpoint pens and 45 R.P.M. record players.  I feel unconfident about mastering unfamiliar stuff, but, beyond that, I usually get a sense of impending doom.  Whatever the case, Katja is much more bold and adventuresome.  She and our friend Donna have been talking for a long time about buying mini-computer tablets to replace their bulky desktop computers.  Last Monday they set out to look at options at the computer store at the mall, and I came along out of curiosity.  Though it felt like an alien land, I have to admit to being very impressed.  The store was busy, and there were probably sixty employees in brightly colored shirts out on the floor.  The wizardry of the devices was amazing.  The only gray-haired salesman in the store, Dennis, spent nearly four hours with us, and he was patient, low-pressure, articulate, and helpful.  Both Katja and Donna settled on high-end tablets plus keyboards, and at the end of the day we returned home with new expensive toys in hand.

Katja’s purchase sat in its unopened box on the counter for the next 48 hours.  Neither of us ever acknowledged its existence.  She had also purchased a Wi-Fi box to hook up to our cable system. I didn’t want to open that either.  Fortunately our friend Alice (pseudonym) and her teenage son came over to help us.  Doing stuff we would never figured out ourselves, they got our Wi-Fi up and running.  Then Alice gave us a short demo of some of the wondrous things Katja’s new tablet could do. 

Katja left for her French literature class about 7 p.m. that evening, and I started trying out her tablet, doing e-mail, Siri, and Google.  Wouldn’t you know, after ten minutes the screen froze up and then it went totally black.  I pushed every button I could find, but nothing happened.  I apparently had succeeded in destroying the new foolproof machine.  I called Alice in a panic.  Luckily she lives nearby, and I walked over with the broken tablet.  It took her a while, but eventually Alice got it turned on again.  She said that that shouldn’t have happened, and, if it were to happen again, we should take the tablet back to the store.  I swore eternal gratitude and privately told myself that I would never again go near a device that clearly had been sent by Satan.  

Walking home on Ludlow Avenue in the dark, I called Donna on my cell phone to let her know about the tablet’s problems.  As I was chatting, my foot hit a raised pavement on the sidewalk.  With my cell phone in one hand and Katja’s tablet in the other, I didn’t break my fall and landed smack on my rib cage.  The devices spurted off into the dark.  Lying flat on the ground I reached around and recovered the phone and the tablet, then gradually picked myself up.  I was banged up and in a state of shock.  I explained to Donna what had happened, then hung up and slowly made my way home.  Once in the house I turned the tablet back on and was relieved that it still seemed to be working.  However, its brand new cover had gotten scratched in my fall.  Katja came home.  After fussing about my mishap, she discovered the knicks on her tablet cover.  She was sad but philosophical, observing mournfully that new things possessions get some bruises.

I didn’t feel that I was seriously injured, but, at Katja’s urging, I made an appointment at my doctor’s office the next morning.  They did some X-rays and other tests and gave me a prescription for a painkiller. I said I was doing o.k. and wasn’t worried.  Then they called back today.  Much to my surprise, the X-rays showed two broken ribs and impaired breathing.  The caller said I can expect to be in pain for the next four to eight weeks and need to guard against pneumonia.  That’s a depressing development.  I can’t help our aging dogs get up from the hardwood floor, can’t lift them into the bed or the car, and should avoid strenuous walking with them.  Nor can I drive for a while, work out at the gym, or go to my line dancing class.  I can do some more sedentary things, but the list of restrictions covers most of the enjoyable parts of my life.  I guess, instead of sheepdogs and line dancing, I’ll spend my new spare time learning to use Katja’s tablet.  That would be useful so long as I don’t break any more bones in the process. 

G-mail Comments
-Donna D (1-24): David, I feel so bad for you, but I love the way you ended on a positive note by noting that you can use your time learning how to use the new tablet.  Maybe you can teach me what you learn! Keep healing so we can go hiking in the spring, okay?

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