Merriam-Webster defines a computer geek as a person that is an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity, hence the phrase “computer geek”.
I don’t say that in a derogatory manner at all. In fact, in the early days of computers, I envisioned myself as somewhat of a cutting edge person. I became quite proficient at Lotus and WordPerfect, the precursors of Microsoft’s wildly popular Word and Excel programs.
I played the early computer game, Pong, for hours before Pacman replaced it as the most popular game of the time. Both games would bore all of my grandchildren to tears, including two-year old Will. Kids are born with capabilities I had to painstakingly learn in my early twenties.
Along the way, I lost my edge with computers. Just as I would become proficient on a program, the next version would be rolled out making me feel like I was starting all over. It is sort of like when Harvey’s or Rite Aid does a major remodel. Everything is there, but you don’t know how to find anything.
Televisions became more sophisticated as well. I can sit in my chair and see who is at the front door, look at pictures from my phone or laptop, watch hundreds of channels on satellite or cable, and listen to music from around the world.
Like many, I was raised in a house with a small black and white television in the den that received only three channels. It is truly amazing to see how televisions have become an entertainment center for the entire house. They are truly incredible and wonderful devices until something goes wrong.
It used to be that you just called the television repair man, but those hardly exist anymore. Technology has changed for them just as it did for the old Maytag repair man.
We recently returned home from an Auburn football game. It was bad enough that we lost the game, but upon entering the house we discovered that several TVs weren’t working properly. The fancy remote in the den wouldn’t control the auxiliary speakers on the television and for some reason the sound was stuck on loud.
The TV in the bedroom was blank, meaning that Mary Lou was missing all of the old black and white Christmas movies. After all, we can’t go more than a week this time of year without watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
We got the screen on the bedroom television repaired, but were having to use, heaven forbid, two remotes. Even worse, there were now exposed wires visible behind the television. That wasn’t such a big issue back when you attached aluminum foil to the rabbit ears. The television in the den still had the auxiliary speakers stuck on loud.
Finally, in desperation, we called the Geek Squad in Dothan. Surely a group with such a name would be able to figure out the aggravating problems that were plaguing our entertainment centers.
A few days later they showed up. I couldn’t meet with them and had to leave them a list of what was wrong. Less than 30 minutes after they arrived, ML texted me to let me know that everything was already working. They must be really smart, I thought. I couldn’t wait to find out what they did to fix such a complicated set of problems so quickly.
“How did they hide the wires still exposed from the last repair?” I asked in amazement. My wife could hardly contain her glee as she put her finger on the bottom of the TV and pushed, hiding the exposed wiring.
Not wanting to be outdone, I asked about the speakers being stuck on loud. They just unplugged them and plugged them back in, she smiled. The fancy remotes just needed some new batteries.
That’s right, the geeks that I admired so much for being so technologically savvy had come to my house, pushed the corner of a TV, changed a battery, and unplugged a device before plugging it back in. Then they took my money.
I am going to put away my Computers for Dummy book forever. The next time I aspire to be a geek I am just going push, pull and kick. After all, it used to work for my old Plymouth.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org