Is tech-no-ology the key to youth

“Everything broke. My computer space bar sticks. I can’t write. I’m lost.”

“Probably you spilled coffee on it,” says my friend Muffy Bloom. We’re on the phone.

“I didn’t,” I protest. “My keyboard makes funny noises.”

“Honey, technology sucks. I’m fine with my Jitterbug phone.”

“Technology is the key to youth. The cool people know technology,” I insist.

“Yes, but they’re 12! Honey, get some Botox. Forget the tech stuff. It’ll make you insane. Selma Cohen said technology gave her dementia.’’

I’m beside myself. I’m a tech moron. I was born in the typewriter generation and I’ve had to learn technology. But it’s like the tech gene is missing. When I press buttons, alarms go off or programs get stuck.

Bill Bowker, a well-known computer doctor from Fog City Mac in San Francisco, arrives at my apartment. He’s tall, with wavy brown hair and vibrant blue eyes. He’s been taking care of my computer for decades.

He glances at my laptop and frowns. He taps a few keys, blows dust from the keyboard. He sighs heavily. “Your keyboard is filthy. It needs to be blown out.” He tells me to take it to the Apple store.

The next day, I go. A tall thin man wearing a red shirt with the word “Genius” printed on the front checks me in. He points to a seat at the counter in the Genius section and says, “Jake will be with you in a minute.”

I unpack my computer and open my notebook. All these geniuses with red shirts are running around, and these cool-looking dot-com-type people sit at tables trying new MacBook Airs and tablets. The place is mobbed.

I vow to learn more about technology, and envision myself someday sitting at Starbucks and working on my iPad mini.

“Hello, I’m Jake.” A man of about 20 interrupts my thoughts. He is wearing a baseball cap and a red Genius shirt. He looks a little bored.

He taps a few keys and yawns. “You need a new keyboard.”

“My technician, Bill, says it just needs cleaning —“

“Lady, this keyboard is shot. ”

“How much?”

“Two hundred,” he says. He shrugs.“ It’ll be ready in four or five days.’’

“I’m a writer. I need it sooner. Two hundred is high … but OK. Here, take it.“

A few days pass. I feel like I’m living in the dark. I go to Starbucks and write by hand and get funny looks. All these boomer-hottie men and women wearing earbuds work on their laptops and tablets. They’re in another world. The new world.

For the first time in my life, I feel old. And I don’t believe in old. Or age. Or numbers. You have to keep up with the next generation, I assure myself. Or is my friend Muffy better off with her Jitterbug cellphone? She’s not worrying about dropped calls or emails, whereas I walk around holding my phone, looking down and checking for emails and calls. No wonder I tripped and fell in Walgreens.

Finally, I receive a call from Apple. Genius Jeanette explains: “Unfortunately, the keyboard was fixed, but in the process your logic board was destroyed. We have to send it to the Apple shop to be repaired. I hope you’ve backed up your data on an external hard drive.”

Another week passes. During this time I pay bills, clean out my sweater drawer and wander the streets, realizing how much in love I am with my computer and with my work. I vow to learn more about technology.

Some days later my computer is ready. I call Bill. We go to the Apple store. It is packed, a sea of red.

We are seated in the Genius section. Jake carries my computer like a father carries a newborn. I take it from him and almost kiss it.

I work on the keyboard a moment. “It’s fine,” I say happily. “I’m not paying though,” I announce.

“Apple waived the fees.” Jake yawns again.

“Wowie!”

“You should sign up for our free workshop on Thursday night,” he says. “It’s iPad night.’’

I sign up.

“So maybe technology is the key to youth,” I tell Bill as we leave the store. “I can’t wait to get home and work on my computer. Maybe next, I’ll rent a robot.”

“There you go,” he says. “You might find the love of your life.’’

Barbara Rose Brooker
Barbara Rose Brooker

Barbara Rose Brooker is a native San Francisco author. Her latest book is “There’s Something Wrong with All of Them.” Barbararosebrooker.com.