I: Shopping Gone Awry Featuring Clueless Connie
“Mom, how about we do our Chrismakah shopping next Thursday, and at the same time we can buy you a new computer and cell phone?”
“So, we’re talking about November 15th, the week before Thanksgiving?”
“Yes, what would be a good time?”
“How about 11:00? That way I can get an hour in at the gym, shower and be ready when you get here.”
“Perfect! Here’s my idea: There’s an Office Depot in Hagerstown, and I get a 10% employee discount. It’s in the same place where there’s a shopping outlet. All our favorite stores are there. We can buy the computer first and while they’re transferring your files, do our shopping and pick up the computer when we’re finished shopping.”
“Oh, honey, that’s a great idea. Looking forward to it.”
“Okay, Mom. See you then. Bye.”
We hung up and I went to the kitchen to start dinner, very excited for an excellent plan and to have Laura help me buy the computer. The one I’ve been using is just so slow and out of date. It was freebie from Laura’s boss that was two years old when I got it (my previous one was 10!) and I’ve had this one about eight years. So, ten years seems to be my computer number which could be why I’m so clueless when it comes to electronics.
To have her help me get a new cell phone was also great as my old one was dying, and I needed a new one really soon. It, too, was a hand-me-up from my granddaughter, Emily, who had cracked the screen on her phone and bought a new one. My son suggested I might want to get a new screen, but I didn’t care. It was an upgrade from my flippy phone and Emily had already had it a couple of years. I didn’t want to pay $100 for a new screen, and then the phone would die.
On that Wednesday, I awoke at eight o’clock to see it was snowing. Rarely do we have snow this early in the season (I mean it was barely autumn). Laura called and said, “What’s it like at your house?”
“It’s snowing but doesn’t seem to be sticking.”
“Well, then, I’m game if you are. I have 4-wheel drive and my Jeep is great in all weather. But it’s up to you.”
Well, I really wanted to be finished with our holiday shopping before Thanksgiving when all the crazy people are out. “Sounds good to me, Honey. Same time?” We didn’t know then that we were just throwing caution to the wind.
“Yep. Don’t worry if I’m not there exactly on time. No clue what the roads will be like and what clueless people are out and about.”
We hung up, and since it was only flurries, I went to the gym as planned. Though it wasn’t coming down too hard, and the streets were just wet, only a few intrepid ladies were there, and I was one of them.
Laura arrived a mere ten minutes late telling me the roads were quite passable, but plenty of idiots were out, and she was going slowly with caution. After we packed up my old computer so they could transfer my files, we were on our way. We took Marriotsville Road because it’s a winding back road with little traffic. We turned on Route 70 going along slowly (following a salt truck which was cool) without any trouble.
Even though by then it was snowing a good lick and was really cold, Laura had her window open about two inches. “Laura, honey, could you close that window? I’m really cold.”
“Sorry Mom, I’m having a hot flash.”
I had to laugh. How well I remember what life is like when you’re in your middle 40’s. “It’s okay, I can wait it out for the minute or so before it passes.” Then she laughed.
At that point her navigator said, “There’s about a 20-minute delay up ahead. Turn onto Route 40 to save ten minutes.” She sounded so nice and confident, but when we took her advice, we found more trouble up ahead. We exited the first chance we could and waited for further ideas from the navigator, which she gave but they turned out to be not much better. I think changes were happening too fast for her to keep up. It was snowing harder and instead of fewer daring souls (or idiots?), there seemed to be more. If my mom were alive, she’d say, “Really Linda? What’s wrong with you?”
At some point, we were at the bottom of the ramp to exit the highway and were immediately stuck behind another car that was spinning wheels on what seemed like half-bald tires, trying to get off an icy patch. I think there was a traffic light or stop sign at the top of the ramp because there were two “lanes” of traffic on this up-sloped ramp, but no one was moving.
Finally, the guy in a truck in the “lane” to our right, got out and walked over to the stuck car, which was a small Toyota that definitely did not have 4-wheel drive. He knocked on the window, Clueless Connie rolled it down and after a short conversation, she got out of her car and walked to the car to her right. The driver rolled down his window, she said something, and he handed her a window scraper. Really? She’s driving in the snow with NO scraper? She’s getting more clueless by the minute.
It’s hard to say how long she was stuck. We were there about 15 minutes, so who knows how long she was sitting there? There was a lot of snow on her back windshield; however, it was snowing pretty hard at that point. She cleaned the window and returned the scraper, truck man sat in her car while she waited on the side. He got it moving and over to the side of the road. No clue what she was going to do now, especially as she was in more snow. But we didn’t care since she was out of our way. However, we still couldn’t move since there were more cars up ahead.
Laura said, “Forget this shit,” and turned around and drove down the exit (so against the law, but there was no one to care; I’m betting others followed suit). We were back on the highway and she took the next possible exit which was a very windy, narrow, hilly, backwoods neighborhood road. “Oh, goody,” I said. “Here we are on Shitsville Road.” We both laughed about that, as Laura carefully maneuvered the Jeep for the next 2 ½ miles where we ended up intersecting with Liberty Road. We were in Fredricksburg at that point.
Knowing we were not going to make it to Hagerstown, I said, “Let’s just stay on Liberty Road which eventually will take us to Eldersburg, and we can go to Kohl’s and do at least some of our shopping and get the computer and phone another day.” Laura agreed, saying, “I think I have some coupons for Kohl’s.” So that’s what we did. Amazingly, I found about 90% of what I wanted for almost everyone on my list. But here’s the best part: When I took out my Kohl’s credit card, the clerk told me it has expired. “Really?” I said, perplexed. “I’ve had it only about a year or so.”
“Yes, but you haven’t used it in all that time, so it automatically expires.”
This turned out to be a blessing. “No worries,” she continued, “You can get a new card, and because it will be your first time using it, you get an additional 20% off today’s purchases.”
“And still get the 30% discount with the coupon I have?”
“That’s correct.” Well who wouldn’t want that deal! And so, I saved a lot of money. I wasn’t regretting not making it to the Hagerstown Outlets after all!
“Laura, Foundry Row is just four miles from my house. Let’s stop and see if we can get the rest of my purchases.”
“Your wish is my command,” she said as she continued to be my chauffer and accomplice. At Old Navy I bought all except one gift, and Laura bought a few more things. But this is not the end of the story.
II: Wayne’s World Doesn’t Include Me
I still hadn’t purchased a computer or phone. The only day Laura could help me buy them was Black Friday which would be my LAST choice for a shopping day. That’s when the same crazy people who are unprepared to drive in the snow go shopping for the holidays. It would be just my luck to find the perfect computer only to have someone else snatch the last one off the shelf, (I already hate that person!) Or the checkout line would be so long that people are pitching tents, ordering dinner or maybe even breakfast for the next morning!
But Laura was busy up until Thanksgiving and was leaving the following Tuesday for Jamaica, a birthday gift trip for her husband, Tommy. So, there were no choices. I was telling this to my son Geoffrey who had me on speaker phone and Jillian, my daughter-in-law, said, “Well good luck with that! You won’t get home before 11:00 at night!” That was very close to prophetic.
Again, Laura picked me up at 11:00, but this time we went to the store in Reisterstown, much closer to home. Laura had called Office Depot in advance to find out which tech was on duty and to let him know we were coming. As it turned out, there was no real need since the store was not crowded. Wayne, the technician, was very helpful to me with choosing a computer.
Since it was Black Friday, there were many good sales and I bought a Hewlett Packard on sale for under $400! I also bought the tech support and, of course, had to pay to have the files transferred. The final bill, after Laura’s 10% discount was under $500. Wayne said he was leaving at 2:00, and the files should be finished transferring by then. We left to go to Best Buy in Owings Mills, a few miles away, to get a new cell phone.
When we arrived, the parking lot was packed! So was the store. I mean really, all the residents of Owings Mills must have been there. The line for every sales person seemed to end at Pennsylvania! “O. M. G! Laura, look at this place!”
“Mom, we knew it would be like this. We have lots of time. Just chill.” Again, I was lucky with the sale and was able to buy a new Samsung for $169. After we found what we wanted, we got a number and were told it would be about an hour since there were seven people ahead of us. We spent that time finding a case and cord for the phone. Laura wanted to buy a case for something she had purchased for Tommy, but I said I would get it as another gift for him, since I’d done so well at Kohls.
When they called our number, I put up all my purchases, plus bought an insurance policy in case I would drop and break the phone, all for under $300! What an amazing day. There was a bit of a rub getting the phone started as I am on Geoffrey’s phone plan, and the clerk said she needed some information from him, social security number and something else I don’t recall.
Luckily, he answered when Laura called and gave us what was needed. The bad part was that by then my old phone had completely died and couldn’t be charged and they were unable to transfer my info. I had some cool photos on there, but oh well, what could I do? This is a reason to print film the old-fashioned way!
We left Best Buy and decided to have some lunch as it was almost 3:00 plus we wanted to stop at Baltimore Sports for a few choice gifts. How nice that there was a Starbucks in the same complex. After a quick lunch there and some cool gifts later, we returned to Office Depot to get the computer. It was 4:15 and the files were not even half-way finished transferring. It’s not like I have games and videos and stuff on my computer. (I’m lucky I can access email and Facebook!) I guess Wayne did not get started on it until his shift was almost over.
The new tech said he thought it had maybe another hour to go. We worked our way over to the area where they have the office furniture and made ourselves comfortable in their cushy sample chairs. Laura started to teach me how to use my new phone, no easy task. I recently heard Dolly Parton say in an interview, “I’m a low-tech girl in a high-tech world.” Me too, I thought.
Over the next 90 minutes or so, I learned what I could, practiced sending texts to multiple people, putting in the contacts of the people whose numbers I knew by heart and practicing use of some of the other icons. Of course, I had to do these tasks many times before I could do it without her prompts! (My grandson still had to help me a few weeks later because I forgot how to send multiple texts.) I’m sucha dork!
Finally, the computer was ready. We packed it up and headed out during rush hour/Black Friday traffic and arrived at my house at 6:15. I really needed to start dinner, so Laura said, “Mom, you can’t help with this. Just fix dinner, and I’ll do it.” By the time she worked her magic and my computer was set up, it was 7:05, and she left. She called at 7:45 to say she was home. Jillian was kind of kidding with her comment about being out til 11:00, but she wasn’t too far off!
But wait! There’s more.
IV: Inept Email
Everything I wanted, like You Tube, Facebook, etc. was easy to access, but I could not get on the most important thing: Email! Here’s what happened:
- I clicked all the proper prompts, and sometimes even got my email list, but could not access the messages. When I clicked, nothing happened.
- I called Laura. She did what she could over the phone, but it didn’t help, so she said, “Mom you paid for tech support. Call them.”
- I did. The guy was helpful and said one of the techs would take over my screen and fix it. He said, “You don’t need to stay on the line. Once we get the screen share, you can hang up.” Great!
- Email worked for a few days and then went back to not letting me in.
- I called again, got a different tech who explained that the first guy should have done it differently. He got another tech to screen share. Again, email worked for a few days, then didn’t.
As I write this, I’ve had my computer two weeks, and email is still not working. Stay tuned . . .
The End, I Promise
It is a week before New Year’s, and it’s finally working properly. Laura figured out that because I have AOL through Verizon, the computer needs to know I am staying logged in. I have to click on “stay signed in” each time I go on email.
She also suggested instead of turning the computer off, I could put it to “sleep” so it can do updates when I’m not there. Who knew computers needed to take a nap? I’m the one who needs to catch some zzz’s! Anyway, these things together seem to be doing the trick. Those tech people could learn a thing or two from my amazing daughter!
But I might still decide to change to a different email service. The thought of that would turn my hair white if it wasn’t already! Would I have to learn how to work a different program? New icons? Some other torture I don’t know about? Plus, I just hate having to notify everyone of a new email address. Oh well, this is the world we live in but not because I want to!