I’m apparently a technology genie

My mom called me a few weeks ago, and the start of the conversation went like this: “We want to watch a movie, and …”
When my parents call me about anything technology related and I hear the word “and” I know I’m going to have to walk them through something over the phone or go over to their house and fix the problem. In this case, that “and” was followed by “our Roku doesn’t work anymore.”

I proceeded to tell my mom they have an older Roku — a streaming player that allows people to watch movies, TV shows and other content on a TV via the Internet —and they would probably have to buy a new one to watch movies again. Their Roku was like anything in the vicious cycle of technology: It got outdated and didn’t work correctly any longer.

Then my wife picked up on our phone conversation and chimed in, “Don’t they have a smart TV?”

Indeed, my parents do have a smart TV, but up until that point in time they’d never used any of the “smart” functions on it. I thought to myself, “Nice job, wifey; I’ll just tell my mom how to access the Amazon app on their TV so they can rent movies again. Boda bing, boda boom, problem solved.

I first had to explain where to press on the remote to access the app.

“Do you see that big button in the middle that looks like a v and another v on top of each other?” I asked my mom, which elicited the response, “You sound like you’re talking to a kindergartener.”
I then proceeded to walk her through the menu and password screens. When she got to the point where she had to type in her wireless Internet password, she entered it wrong three times before making a successful attempt. I heard my dad chiding her in the background.

“You just be quiet,” she said to him. “You couldn’t even press the tiny buttons on this remote with your hotdog fingers.”

I was suppressing laughter through the rest of this process, which involved a few more wrong passwords when my mom got to the screen to enter her Amazon account information. When she finally got to the screen where she could scroll through and select movies for rent or purchase, she screamed, “Victory!”

I could have given my mom a hard time about this particular bout of technological ineptitude — like any good, smart-aleck son should do — but I refrained. At this point in my life, I realize just how much stuff my parents have helped me out with that I previously knew nothing about.

For example, a few weeks ago the main lift cable on our popup camper broke. It took me a while to find a replacement cable, but I got one from Milwaukee, and my dad and I installed it over this past weekend. And it worked, amazingly, on the first try. I have a somewhat limited mind mechanically, so if I had tried to tackle this project myself, the bottom part of my camper would probably still be in bits in pieces on my driveway.

My parents have helped us out with home improvement projects, painting, and my mom even routinely clips our dog’s nails, which a vet charges you like $20 a time to do. There have been numerous projects we’ve done around our house that I probably wouldn’t have attempted without the guidance of my parents.

So I guess I’m fine with being their IT guy, even though I don’t consider myself that much of a savant when it comes to computers. I did fix their wireless printer recently, though, and anyone who has ever even touched a printer knows that fixing one makes a person a technology genie. That is my role, and I accept it. To summon me, one only needs to bang angrily on an electronic device and say the words, “I want this to work, and …”

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