April 28th, 2005

Beagle Bros

I am continually amazed at technical ignorance.

Exhibit one: a well-educated, intelligent, professional woman no more than ten years my senior concernedly lists "we don't have internet" and "Outlook is giving me messages about not finding the server" as, not two symptoms to the same problem, but two separate problems.  I explain that if there is no internet access, there's no way to get email either, since you have to use the internet to get to your mailserver.  (They don't have a mailserver in their office, and never have.)  She got the idea, but it was clearly a new one on her... how do you not get that you have to have internet access to get to email?

Exhibit two: a middle-aged sounding woman mistakenly calls my cell phone while I'm in the supermarket this morning.  She listens to me say "[eight syllable business name], this is Jim, may I help you?" and, unfazed, asks to speak to Antony anyway.  I politely and cheerfully tell her "I'm sorry, you have the wrong number."  With a tone of voice implying possible mental retardation on my part, she attempts to persuade me that she has in fact dialed 655-[number] - I'm not sure if the goal of this is to convince me to return Antony's (presumably stolen by me?) cell phone, or magically turn into Antony, or what.  I explain to her that she has actually dialed six SIX five [number], not six FIVE five [number].  She doesn't sound very clear on this, so I reiterate "you didn't dial 655."  Grumbling, she disconnects.

IMMEDIATELY, the phone rings again.  I glance at the CID, and, yes, it's the same woman.  Sigh.  Politely I answer and say "sorry, you dialed 665 again.  you said the number was 655."  She seems rather suspicious of this idea.  She disconnects.  RING RING RING.  "It's still me."  Disconnect... and it rings again.  Wtf, is she hitting "redial" and expecting it to fix her original fuckup?  This time, fuck it and fuck her, I just hit "mute" and put the phone back in my pocket.

I turn to the guy bagging my groceries, who's grinning at me, and say "it is the year two thousand and five, and there are people who have still not figured out how to use a telephone!"  (Am I the only one who finds this more than a little disturbing?)

Exhibit three: on the flip side of the coin, retrotechnical ineptitude!  While at my Sociology final this morning, a young lady concernedly asks the instructor for a pencil sharpener - there is none in the room.  Dismay reigns.  I look over and say "well, I've got a pocketknife..."  She looks confused and says "will that work?"  Now, I could understand "can you do it for me?" from somebody with no experience using simple physical tools, but... will it work?  Wtf?  When given the concept to start with, how do you not immediately grasp the idea of shaving the wood off of a pencil's tip with a freaking pocketknife?  (For those concerned with her fate, I took the pencil and whittled a point on it for her.  She expressed gratitude and implied no small measure of amazement.)
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