“Road kill on the information superhighway” is the expression. It’s used to describe people with little computer experience. I’m one of them, and I’m here to say we’re not peasants from the 4th century. We didn’t migrate en masse from Oblivion, N.D. We’re not escapees from the Katie Couric Institute For Those Incapable of Spoon Feeding Themselves Oatmeal Without Producing Self-Inflicted Spoon Wounds All Over Their Faces.
DAMMIT. WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS. Some of us can drive. Some of us can successfully play with crayons. Some of us are highly-paid TV meteorologists with hairpieces more technologically advanced than the NORAD supercomputer. All we ask for is a little – just a little – respect. A little – just a little – respect would be especially helpful when a techno-challenged person like me is making a first time computer purchase.
I was in this situation just recently. I was looking through the yellow pages for a used computer dealer when I came across an ad that made me look twice. “Steve’s House of Used Computers and Fresh Fish. We cater to idiots.”
This is how my exchange there went:
“Hi. I’m looking for a computer.”
“Great. I’ll help you find what you need. How much RAM are you looking at?”
“Oh, I dunno. Maybe 100 head. Ha ha.”
Steve reacted to my off-the-cuff humorous remark with the same level of amusement Bill O’Reilly showed when his cat was run over by a lawn mower.
“Seriously, I don’t need that much RAM. I don’t really want to go overboard RAM-wise. I guess I’d say medium RAM.”
“How many gigs of hard disk space do you need?”
“You know, Steve, I really don’t know anything about computers. In fact, this is my first computer purchase ever.”
“That’s OK, sir. We all have to start somewhere. I’m here to help you. I have this great 186 processor. The 186 is the fastest, most powerful processor available on the retail market. And since you’re a first-time customer, I’ll make you a special deal. The whole outfit for $10,000.”
“Wow, you are all right, Steve. Do you take Mastercard?”
When I got home, I realized I had no idea what to do with this thing, so I called for the free tech support Steve told me about.
“Thank you for like uhhh calling Crashmaster tech support. How may I like uhhh assist you?”
“Hi, I just bought one of your computers and I have no clue…”
“Credit card number.””Well gee, I was told tech support was free of charge.”
“Mister, if you want something free, the Salvation Army is giving out powdered beans. Credit card number.”
I gave her my credit card number which I’m not going to repeat here because even I am not that stupid. “Do you agree to the $400 flat fee whether I help you or not?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“Uhhh like no.”
“OK, I agree.”
“OK, sir, you obviously have a software problem. I’m gonna have to refer you to Microsoft.”
“Thank you for calling like uhhh Crashmaster tech support.”
In desperation, I checked the yellow pages and found a listing for a mobile tech support unit called the Nerd Squad. The dispatcher said he would send someone right out. Within an hour, a strange looking vehicle shaped like a gigantic plastic pocket protector pulled up to my house. Two guys named Screech and Spaz jumped out. I’m not too sure how to describe them, but have any of you seen Dumb and Dumberer?
When I showed them my computer, they looked at each other for about two seconds and then exploded into the loudest, longest continuous laughter I’ve ever heard in my life. It started out as kind of an explosive paroxysm, then after about 45 minutes it settled down into more of a ripply, giggly gurgle. Then they looked at each other and pointed to the computer and exploded into hysterics for about one more hour. When this cycle repeated four times, I started to become seriously concerned about their medical well-being. Plus, it was now 3 AM and I was being charged by the hour.
Fortunately I found a DVD of The Bob Saget Show and administered emergency anti-amusement first aid. By the time they fully recovered, I realized I had been had. But I applied for an assistance program for the techno-backward called No Idiot Left Behind, and I’m now gainfully employed by the US Government as a Betamax/eight-track tape service agent.