Friday, April 10, 2009

Modern Technology And Other Airport Chatter

Not having to travel anymore with my laptop is my favorite perk of retirement. I hated schlepping that thing with me everywhere. Canceling my Blackberry email account and using a plain 'ole cellphone, is something I consider a life-changing bonus when I stopped working.  Ahhh to be disconnected.

But, during a recent cross-country trip, I was delayed for hours in an airport with absolutely nothing to do, so I decided to kill some time and "rent" a keyboard and Internet connection at one of those kiosks they have in airports now.  You might have seen them but refused to pay the hideous, per minute charge?  Well, I was that bored, and had already read three newspapers, all the tabloids, plus "The Economist" and  "More" magazine.  

I inserted my American Express card into the computer station and was connected surprisingly fast. Once I scraped the mystery stickiness off the Return key, I got to work and flew through my messages in about 15, very expensive, minutes.  After logging out, I gathered my belongings and found an empty seat next to a scruffy looking college student apparently on his way home for Spring Break. 

His name was Mark-- I could see it in big letters written in Magic Marker on his backpack.  He had the usual electronics that come with teenagers-- the latest iPod and the coolest Blackberry on the market.  Mark was texting a mile a minute as Bono rocked, at an ungodly decibel, in his ear.  I felt fairly cool having recognized it was U2 playing as I twiddled my thumbs praying for our delayed flight to get a move on it.

After another hour of sheer boredom, I dug through my carry-on and found a big bag of M&M candies.  I was starved but ate them slowly, one at a time, to make them last for the anticipated three more hours of flight delays. After my third bite, Mark, who had barely looked up from his keypad, suddenly found me incredibly interesting.

He struck up a conversation typical of a 19 year old-- This sucks, that's a drag, what a bummer-- you get the drift.  After a few minutes, I offered him some M&Ms. Now I was, apparently, riveting.

Mark munched away by the handful and the conversation eventually lead to my having "rented" the airport computer. He'd seen me on it and thought I must be "really rich to waste my money" on something like that. Ha!  If he only knew. Anyway, eventually he gave me the once-over from head to toe, then stared deeply into my eyes.  What's up with that, you ask?

His next words are ones I will not soon forget....

As if I was an ancient dinosaur he said, in the sweetest most condescending voice you ever heard, "It's really great that you know how to use a computer.  I mean, not every one your age can." 

Hello-- I'm 50 years, old not 115.  The putz.

Without mentioning I retired last year, I explained I was in the advertising business and actually knew a thing or two about computers and the great big World Wide Web.

He looked at me with amazement.... and scepticism.

Seriously, I said.  I've been in the Internet game since before most people had email addresses.  He thought I was full of crap as if, duhhh, email had, like, always been around.

I moved my M&Ms out of his reach.

Mark mocked the idea of people still relying on fax machines and others who couldn't program their DVR. There were numerous comments about his mother-- who I surmised, is actually younger than me-- and how she can't figure out the house alarm system let alone Google or Facebook.   Geezers and old-timers were laced through his conversation as he laughed at the "older generation".

Before I bitch slapped him, I changed the subject by asking what his major was in college. Believe it or not, it's Communications! I nearly choked on my candies-- At which point, he asked for the rest of my M&Ms.... Since I was choking and all.....

Yes, I was conversing with a future marketing maven of America-- The kind that wouldn't pay two cents for the over 35 demographic, let alone the graveyard category of over 50. Grrreeeaaat.  This is what we have to look forward to from the Class of 2011?  

After Mark held the bag of M&MS up to his mouth and poured the last few dozen down his throat, he had nothing else to say. We sat in silence as he laughed and chuckled over emails and texting with his college buddies.  When our flight was finally boarding oh those many hours later, dear Mark asked if I needed help carrying my (very small) bag.  Ah, no thanks Dude.  This granny can carry her own stuff, thank you very much.

Communications major, my ass.  

Welcome to TheFiftyFactor  -  Joanna


  1. I can't stop chuckling. My 76-year-old mother surfs the web with skill, and my 46-year-old husband thinks the Internet can watch you in your home (I don't know how---through the monitor or something) even when the computer is turned off. LOL

  2. Did you ask him what the meaning of life is? Obviously he thinks it entails using gadgets. Someone needs to communicate some truths to said m&m munching Mark. Maybe it's his mom whom he scorns. Wonder how the parents who got him those toys do for a living?


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