I was at McDonald’s yesterday, working on my website and eating lunch, when an old man around the age of 80 walked up to me, and started talking. I didn’t realize he was talking at first, I was focused on my Macbook screen, while listening to Coldplay in the headphones, the old man was headed towards me. His lips were moving, and I’m not sure he understood the concept of headphones, so I knew that a conversation had already started. I removed my headphones and joined in.
“So how hard is it to use one of those things?” he asked.
I scrambled to make out his words, slightly hearing them, but not sure what they meant.
“Use what?” I replied, at this moment I had no idea what he was referring to.
He paused for a minute to gather his mind thoughts.
“…I don’t know, whatever you have in front of you.”
He must be talking about my computer.
He looked confused. Does he know what a computer is?
“I guess …” he said, as he turned to the wall next to me, staring down at the McDonald’s computer used to fill out applications.
“You have to know the alphabet to work one of those, huh?”
I really didn’t know what to say, I wondered how far to go back. My mind would land on different directions to talk about, explaining about the internet, or typing in words that would bring up more information. I was puzzled. A simple explanation of any of my daily uses on a computer would have to be broken down to so many levels.
“I know how to read and write.”
The old man was trying to help me understand that he is capable of working this foreign object. I started to wonder if he was joking with me, but his expressions seemed to say otherwise, as if he was truly interested, and I didn’t want to let him down.
I struggled to open up to him, not that I wanted to be rude, but I had no idea where to start. For someone like myself that is constantly working on a computer, how did I struggle to explain the basics of one?
“Well, it’s really not that hard,” I said, as I began my presentation. “If there’s something you want to learn about, or purchase, or whatever, you simply just type it in, and it appears on the screen.”
This explanation only created more confusion, and the conversation was going nowhere. As the old man waited for his wife, he knew he was running out of time. He needed answers.
I suddenly grabbed my phone, knowing that this was my last hope.
“Maybe you should get an iPad.” I said the name of it as if he knew what I was talking about. “It’s much easier to use, and you’ll be able to do everything a computer can do.” I turned on my phone, and began showing him something similar. “It’s just like this phone, but bigger. The same size as my computer screen.”
He asked me the name about 5 more times, as I kept repeating it slower and clearer for him.
“I-PAD…?” He asked.
This is a word he’s never heard before, so he pondered on it for a second, “And you can take photos with that thing?”
“Yep, theres a camera on the front and the back.” I explained.
He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
He leaned down to get eye level with my table, studying the phone, stunned by his latest discovery. He was blown away by the size of it, and as soon as I turned it on to show him the apps, his mouth dropped. He couldn’t believe what the screen was showing him. His eyes lit up, it all seemed so magical.