For some reason my 83-year-old father bought an iPad. It sounds like it was an impulsive buy at Wal-Mart while he was using a coupon to get some maple-glazed donuts. He bought the basic version which requires wireless internet access. My folks have cable bundled with DSL at home. My mom knew she didn’t have wireless, but was under the impression she had Wi-Fi. I’m not sure what she thinks Wi-Fi is, but clearly she doesn’t know it means wireless.
They turned on their iPad and waited for something to happen. After staring at the tablet for a few minutes they concluded that nothing was happening. So they took action. I can imagine their arthritic crooked fingers jostling for screen domination as they over-aggressively swiped at icons.
My mom probably said, “Beel, wait a minute (she pronounces Bill as Beel when she is angry or frustrated with him – I’ve heard more Beels than Bill in recent years). We need to connect to the Wi-Fi since we don’t have wireless." I’m told they then looked for a place on the computer to plug in the iPad. I’m not sure if they figured out how to disconnect the plug to make it a USB. At this point, I got the phone call.
“Hi honey, your father bought an iPad. I don’t know why he did it. So stupid. He says we need to watch our spending and he comes home from Wal-Mart with an iPad. He said it was on sale. And now we can’t get the darn thing to work. Our Wi-Fi won’t plug in so I guess we have to get wireless internet. We’ve called the cable company and talked to them for a half hour and now they have to come out. Our router is supposed to work but we can’t get it to connect. Dick from down the street has an iPad and his worked right away, right out of the box and Dick doesn’t know anything about Wi-Fi, routers or wireless. So he might come over and look at ours but I don’t know why Beel bought this stupid thing anyway. He doesn’t even know how to work the computer.”
“Hi mom. How are you? I’m fine, thanks for asking.”
Slightly amused laugh. “Oh honey, hi, I’m just so frustrated with your father.”
“Hey, now he’s one of the cool kids on the block.”
“Oh sure. It took him ten minutes to find out how to turn it on. He said he was going to get a donut and he came home with an iPad. What is he going to do with an iPad?”
“Listen mom, they really are pretty easy and lots of fun, but you guys aren’t set up for wireless at home. And you don’t have Wi-Fi either. Wi-Fi is wireless. You need to get a wireless router and set it all up, but I think that might be over your head a little bit. No offense. I’m basing that on the fact you were still using a typewriter five years ago.”
“Wi-Fi is wireless?”
“Yes. When is the cable company sending somebody out?”
“Okay, well if you are anxious to get the iPad going, go to Panera. You can get wireless access there.”
“Hold on, let me get a pencil.”
“Why do you need a pencil? And who uses pencils anymore? Why do you even have pencils in your house?”
“I want to write this down. You said go to pin-era? What is that?
“Mom. It’s not a website. Panera. The restaurant. You know, the place I always had to go to when I was visiting you if I needed online access on my laptop. It’s about a mile from your house.”
“Ohhh, Panera! How can they help us get the dumb iPad to work?”
Laughing. “They won’t help you unless you are hungry or thirsty in which case you can order food and drinks. They don’t have an IT staff there to teach you how to use your iPad although that’s not a bad idea for all you old folks in Florida.”
“What is an IT staff?”
“Never mind. Just know that you can go to Panera and get access to the internet. All you have to do is choose their network on your iPad. It may even come up naturally. A page will come up asking you to agree to their terms. Check the box and you are online. Then you can set everything up.”
Silence with slightly heavy breathing. “I don’t know why he had to buy this dumb thing. I’m going to go out and buy some shoes.”
“Okay mom. Go retaliate. And wait for the cable company to come out. Thanks for the great phone call. This whole thing delights me very much.”