One of my last acts at Apple was to make sure my Mom got a deal on a new 20 inch iMac G5, fully loaded. Extra RAM, DVD Burner, and a great video camera (an iSight for the geeks in the audience) I tossed in to make up for forgetting to call her on her birthday this month.
I actually always remember her birthday (July 12 for those who care about such things). It's just that somehow, every year, there's something that distracts me from calling until it's too late. If it wasn't for the fact that my mom has no doubt that I love her (and that she does get a sick twisted kick out of watching me use big words to flagellate myself when I realize the gaffe) I would feel really bad about it.
Okay, maybe I already DID feel really bad... but I get over it a lot quicker than would otherwise be possible.
So, as the geek in the family, I've been getting the inevitable calls. The only thing saving my sanity is that I get my geek genes from my mother*, and thus she is a LOT smarter than the average tech support call. However, my mom hasn't been able to indulge her abilities as fully as I have, and so she defers to me in most things technical.
For the time being she's still on dial-up... AOL to be precise. Sad, I know... but she's thinking about high speed networking, thanks in large part to the idea that it'll make two way video between Long(GUH) Island and Phoenix not only possible, but a frequent event.**
So, since she already has the account, she wanted to know about the details around setting up the new box to do AOL. That was Thursday -- I assured her that it should be next to no problem getting it installed (aside from the philosophical objections to it, of course, but I had already told her of those in many a past conversation), and if the disk she had was more than a year or two old she might be better off snagging a disk from the local
So, today she calls me, stuck at the same screen EVERYONE gets stuck at, the damn "enter your mail account" screen. If you don't have one set up, don't have the info handy, or are using AOL, you can just leave it blank and hit "Continue", but the wonderful wizards of Cupertino think mentioning that on the configuration assistant screen is too HARD.
Well, once she's past that, I mention she should have no trouble with AOL. She noted that the disk she had was a couple of years old, and probably too ancient for her needs. I noted that she could use it to at least get online, and there's this odd tone to her voice, and she informs me the disk in no longer available.
"Oh no..." I exclaim. "You didn't throw it out, did you?"
"Well, I actually, I heard from someone I could use them as coasters."
At first I thought she was kidding.
Then I realized that, in the two days since I had spoken to her, she had checked the copyright on the disk, saw that it read "©2003", and decided it was worthy for only one thing, and lost little time before using it such. You see, she had never THOUGHT of actually using them for that before...
I couldn't help it. I tried as hard as I could, I swear I did. I mean, it's my MOTHER, and openly snicker, giggling, then outright laughing to the level of an actual guffaw is just poor form, even for the only male son.
It's also dangerous. Now that I have fulfilled my genetic duty to the matriarch of my line, it could be argued that I am now superfluous. Fortunately, said female progenitor obviously thinks I might be good for one or two more, so I have been spared.
For the time being.
After she asked "So, should it work if it's not scratched too badly?" followed shortly by "Well, I didn't drip anything on it yet" (both of which nearly crippled me with yet more excessive, "you had to be there" levels of mirth) I let her get on with playing with her toy, exhorting her to call me before trying to call AppleCare or AOL for support.
Not that she would wind up with complete idiots EVERY time they called, which is often the case, admittedly. Rather, my concern is that sometimes my mother's communication style is a bit... odd. As in, unless you realized she WASN'T a run of the mill, "hey, the cup holder on my computer is broken" enduser, you ran the risk of misunderstanding her question and minimizing her plight, thus frustrating all concerned and (more importantly) pissing off my mom.****
It felt good to laugh like that, even if no one out there understands why. It was a good end to a day where I scored a cool costume that fit me PERFECTLY from the SF Opera Prop/Costume sale today, had a long luxurious bubble bath, and was extra relaxed. The only downsides this weekend was the early departure of graceful_heart when her obnoxious soon to be ex decided he was "dying". His exact whine -- the man had a stomach flu, and was CONVINCED of his imminent demise, and only the woman who was 90 minutes away could save him. She's still living with him for the nonce, so she had to bail... but not before Roni and I had corrupted her a bit by showing her Rocky Horror on DVD, complete with callbacks.
That's the only other bad thing... right now Roni has apparently come down with a bit of a bug. She's running a 101.8 degree fever, thanks to a thermometer that penguin_goddess just brought over. Kim and I are going to watch some cartoons while I fret about why the sudden illness. I'd say it's probably nothing, but that's like walking up to murphy, kicking him in his big, hairy, Irish nuts, and daring him to do something about it.
* Do I really think there are such a things at a genetic inclination toward geekery? Hell yes. I've witnessed my mother INTUITING concepts I have bashed my head into a desk until bloody trying to explain to people less than a third her age, so they don't have the excuse that it's something they weren't raised with.
** This will be made easier by the fact that one of the OTHER last acts committed at Apple was buying dcatt a Mac Mini and Camera as well. After dealing with her PC problems both there and afar, it's merciful. It also means that, at such time when she needs to upgrade, little Lilly's first computer with be something that actually WORKS, has a command line worth accessing, and development tools already built in. I'm thinking she'll be programming circles around daddy by 6, shortly after defeating the parental controls built into OS X Tiger... but I'm getting ahead of myself a tad there
*** Ah, the joys of regional supermarket chain references. Is it me, or have I been doing a lot of footnotes lately?
**** I was more concerned for the poor, well meaning techs. My mother has long since gotten over her prudish side and has the same skill of verbal evisceration as I do, only as a fully accredited, accented, Long Island grandmother. You do the math.</strike>