I have decided that my husband and I are old enough to use the “Age Card.” To see what others thought about this, I looked it up on Google and found this definition: “an age card can be obtained by people over the age of 18 as proof that they are old enough to consume alcohol.”
But that’s not what I’m talking about. Here is a prime example of the need for a different kind of Age Card.
Recently our very small, very old dining room TV, on which we watch “Jeopardy” during dinner every night, decided to flash a screen that says “Service not available now. Restart TV.” Our first instinct was to see whether the other sets had the same message. No, they seemed to be working fine.
Well, we had restarted the TV before. We even knew that you called it “re-booting.” We unplugged, re-plugged, and behold, a screen came up that said “Connection successful.”
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We looked at each other smugly. But after a few minutes, we realized that was it. No picture, nothing except the “service not available sign” again. No “Jeopardy.” No Alex Trebek. We went into another room and watched “Jeopardy” on tape. We took a breather and tried to restart the TV again an hour later. Same result. Ever hopeful, we decided to wait until the next day. Same result.
So we took the dreaded plunge and called AT&T customer service. After waiting for about 10 minutes, my husband shared our problem with a customer service representative and explained what we had tried so far.
First she instructed us to go to the box next to the modem at our computer. Although we told her no such box exists, it took some persuasion to convince her.
Then she got serious. She told my husband, “Go into the other room with the main TV set, call us on your cell phone, crawl under the desk, disconnect the two yellow cables, crawl out from under the desk, hold the power button for 10 seconds; see whether a screen comes up that says “connection.” If nothing happens crawl under the desk again,….. Couldn’t she tell she lost us at the first “crawl under the desk”?
I scolded my husband for even thinking about following these directions; then I told him it was time to play the Age Card. He tells the customer rep that he is 86 years old and can’t crawl under the desk. Since she is half his age, she is confused and momentarily quiet. Into that quiet, he inserts a plea for AT&T to do something remarkable: send out a real live service person.
There is some wheeling and dealing about whether this is to be a free service, and she acknowledges that if it is their fault, there will be no charge. An appointment is made for a four-hour window the next day, and all is peaceful again.
Other occasions to use the Age Card arise frequently when companies insist that you can only fulfill their requests by going online and performing high-tech maneuvers that were invented long after we were old enough to understand them.
Recently I read that 80 percent of children between 3 and 8 have regular access to electronic devices. They are way ahead of us. If only our preschool neighbor were old enough to cross the street, maybe he could help us.
My definition of the Age Card is a certificate attesting that you are over 80 and can refuse to do unseemly tasks unless you choose to. These include:
▪ climbing on chairs, stepstools and ladders to reach light bulbs that are supposed to have a longer life than yours but have somehow burned out
▪ reaching for items on store racks that are now above your head after arthritis has caused you to shrink as much as the family in the movie “Downsizing”
▪ crawling under desks to unplug electronic devices
▪ hearing what people are saying from across the room who are “low talkers” as personified in a famous Seinfeld episode
▪ being forced to listen to music that is blaring outrageously and comes complete with lyrics that are (1) vulgar and (2) make no sense.
You don’t have to flash the Age Card if you don’t need to, but it would sure come in handy for us. I would like to make one for myself and some select friends, but my printer has a paper jam. I looked it up online and was told to watch a nine-minute YouTube video to learn how to unjam it. What the heck is YouTube?
Francine M. Farber is a retired school district administrator and a full-time community volunteer. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.