My Dad vs. Modern Technology

Sooo Hotmail is officially dead. Sounds like everyone who was still holding out was migrated over to Outlook. I could really care less about this development, except it made me think of my dad and a funny story.

My pops is a hard-working, traditional kind of dude. He’s spent the better part of 40 years as a painting contractor and has worked on everything from local banks to doctor’s offices to residential homes and even some Vermont McMansions. He knows everything there is to know about painting – what kind of primer to use, how many coats a job will need, which areas will need patching, sanding, caulking etc…which is all great…but it means his knowledge on things you and I take for granted is basically non-existent.  Let me get right down to my point: the man knows absolutely nothing about modern technology and more importantly, doesn’t care to know.

Did you ever hear that joke about the person who was using a computer and received the prompt, Press any key to continue,  and his/her response was, Where the heck is the ‘any’ key???  Yeah, well I’m 99% sure that joke was based on my dad. With his coke-bottle glasses rested on his forehead and his eyes about two inches from the screen, he once spent a good 5 minutes searching the keyboard for it, only to throw his hands up in despair and say, “I can’t find the ‘any key,’ anywhere!”

business man with laptop over head - mad

Martin P. knows three things and three things only about computers: 1) how to turn them on; 2) how to get to the start menu and; 3) how to start a new game of Hearts. The end.

His hatred for technology dates as far back as I can remember and was especially strong for video games systems. For whatever reason, my dad just couldn’t remember the name of any of them, and always seemed to be a game console behind. He called the Nintendo, “The Atari,” called the Sega, “The Nintendo,” and then finally reached a point where he just referred to all video game systems as “THE MACHINE.”

“Bobby, it’s time to shut off THE MACHINE.”

“I’ve had enough with THE MACHINE, MACHINE, MACHINE! I mean it. It’s all you guys do!”

“Uh, Ricky, the red light is blinking on THE MACHINE…”

My dad also grouped the cable box, VCR, and of course all computers into THE MACHINE category. In fact, he was so “anti-machine” that we didn’t even purchase our first home computer until I was a sophomore in high school and my teachers stopped accepting hand-written essays (btw, we’re talking about 2001, folks.)

I think the reason he hates THE MACHINE is the same reason he hates THE MAN. He grew up in the 60’s, dodged the draft, believes all politicians are corrupt, and is 100% convinced Big Brother is always watching. THE MACHINE (whichever one he happens to be referring to—doesn’t matter) is just one more way for our government to keep tabs on us and he’s not gonna let that happen. Yup, no computers for my dad.

He does every estimate by hand. Gives out every bill by hand. And the only advertising he does is a Yellow Page listing. My dad’s business doesn’t even have a website, which is just mind-boggling to think about in our digital age. I guess it goes to show you the power of a good referral.

So yeah…keep all of the above in mind as I now (finally!) tell you the funny “Hotmail” story from a couple years year was 2005 and I was living in Gorham, ME, attending the University of Southern Maine. During one of my (ah, hem, DAILY) phone calls from home (MOM), I got to talking to my dad about some guy we both knew. Can’t remember his name, but for our purposes let’s just call him Ted. Here’s how the conversation went down:

DAD: Yeah, so I ran into Ted the other day.

ME: Oh yeah? What’s he up to now?

DAD:  I guess he’s looking for work. Said he might wanna do a couple of jobs for me this summer if I needed help. But I dunno…

ME: Oh, that’ll be good, Dad. Why are you hesitant?

DAD: ‘Cause the guy is…I don’t know how to describe it…WEIRD.

Let me just interrupt here to point out that my father is the most opinionated person in the ENTIRE universe and is never afraid to tell you how little he thinks of a person. So to hear my Dad struggling to come up with an insulting adjective for Ted was off-putting.

ME: What do you mean he’s “weird,” Dad?  Did something happen?

DAD: I don’t know. I just think the guy’s kind of…full of himself and I think he’s some sort of SICKO.

ME: (starts laughing when I hear the word ‘sicko’) Ok, so something obviously happened…SPILL…

DAD: Well, he called me up after I ran into him and we got to talking…and then at the end of the phone call he wanted to give me his “E-mail” address (my dad says “E-mail” address real slow, and I imagine him also using air quotes). I tried to tell him I don’t have “E-mail” but he started spelling it out anyway.

ME: Ok…so…

DAD: And well…he told me it was TEDVT1924 at HOTMAIL dot com.

ME: Ok…??

(long pause)

DAD: Yeah, HOTMAIL. Can you believe the nerve of that guy? I mean, who does he think he is?

ME: I mean Hotmail is kind of a shitty email service but I still don’t get why this makes him a sicko.

DAD: Well, I dunno. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (my dad’s favorite Seinfeld quote), but I don’t think I want any part of it.

ME: DAD, I still don’t understand what the hell you mean.

DAD: I think he’s pretty cocky. That’s what I mean. And a sicko to have HOTMAIL as his email.

And then it clicked. My father, the computer-illiterate, heard HOT MALE.

Benjamin Godfre - Hot Male Model-03_thumb[2]

Once my hysterical laughter subsided, I explained to dear-old-Dad what “HOTMALE” really was, and assured him Ted was still a good guy.

DAD: Well, I didn’t know! I don’t know anything about that sort of stuff. It’s not funny, Amy. Ugh, we’re getting another call. MARY LOOOU. How do I do this thing? Gotta go, Amy. Someone’s beeping in. I HATE THESE MACHINES.


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