It was not my fault I got a new car. The old one was perfectly good and with, 200,000 miles, it was just getting broken in. Then my right shoulder, to use the precise medical term, went wackadoodle. It all happened relatively quickly. When I consulted my friendly neighborhood orthopod, he took an X-ray, studied it for the briefest of moments, and shook his head. Having had a lifetime of interactions with orthopedic surgeons, I can tell you that when they look at your x-ray and shake their heads, it is not a good sign — it is not a good sign at all. Brace yourself for an array of new scars and long stints in physical therapy. I think his exact words were, “You have the shoulder of a ninety-year-old who has been sledge-hammering concrete since puberty.” The expert opinion was that I needed a new shoulder. Since I could not comb my hair or raise my arm or reach into my back pocket with my right hand, I tended to agree with him. His advice was to go get one, so I did. It is an excellent shoulder. In the interest of not disobeying my surgeon and physical therapist, though, I did have to get that new car. Out with the manual transmission, in with the automatic. You already know all of this so I’ll get right to why I’m bringing it up again.
During the whirlwind orientation from the salesman, he introduced my phone to the car and pushed buttons so fast his hands were a blur. Every once in a while he’d make brief eye contact and say “Understand?” I was about one week post-op and the only thing I understood was that I liked Percocet. I had a friend with me and was just hoping he was taking notes. Well, he wasn’t and the Percocet wore off and I didn’t know how to use the navigation system. I vaguely remember the man saying something about my phone and a cord and the car’s screen. Everything else was a blank.
Even after the extremely desperate measure of reading the owner’s manual I still couldn’t get the map to come up on the screen. Knowing full well I was going to be humiliated, I returned to the dealership and threw myself on their mercy. When I pulled in, the nice man asked what the problem was. When I told him I couldn’t figure out the map feature he said I had to talk to the “tech guy.” I got that awful “talk to the tech guy” feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was just like being back at the orthopod … here was another person full of arcane knowledge and he was going to try to explain things to me using his arcane language and sooner or later I just knew he was going to shake his head.
It was obviously not this man’s first rodeo. I thought he was great and I wasn’t even on Percocet. He explained how I get my phone to tell my car where I wanted to go and he showed me where to plug in the umbilical cord so together they could give birth to an acceptable route. There was one bad moment when he was talking to the car but the car wasn’t listening and in less time than it takes to say “Steve Jobs” he figured out I didn’t have Siri on board or Apple Maps or both. He said Apple Maps was just the best and that I should get it. By this point if he had suggested I start sacrificing live chickens to the Apple gods I would have done it. He was making my car respond to my every wish. Almost. To demonstrate my new-found power (and to give him some idea if I had absorbed even half of what he had said) he had me talk to the car. Gingerly, lest Siri become startled, I leaned over and told the car screen to go to my home address. Very very gently the tech guy pointed out that the microphone was actually somewhere over my head and I might have better luck focusing my request in that direction.
I’d like to nominate this man for the Nobel Prize in the category of Explaining Technical Things To A Technologically-Challenged Individual Without Using Very Many, You Know, Technical Terms And Without Even Once Shaking His Head Or Acting As Though I Am The Dumbest Person He’s Ever Met. He certainly has our vote … me and my new best friend, Siri.