Few weeks ago I posted a rant about stupid people not knowing how to internet. Most of the readers could relate, but some folks criticized me for being elitist. I’m pretty sure these people were just trolling but I guess they were successful enough to make me want to revisit this post.
Let me tell you a little story. I had this friend once, let’s call him Charlie. This of course is not his real name – I just picked it at random. Now the problem with Charlie is that he is not a car person. His knowledge of cars is abysmal to say the least. And yet, he drives the most luxurious and most expensive automobile that he is able to afford. When he picked it, he looked at three things: the brand name, the interior decor and “features”. You know, satellite radio, iPod dock, rear view camera, sun roof, seat warmers, built in sub-woofers etc… He never actually considered the cars specs – the horsepower, the engine size, gas millage and etc… He couldn’t care less about that stuff.
The problem with all these features is that he has no clue on how to use them. For example, his radio is always tuned to some Spanish news station. You know – talk radio, all in Spanish. Charlie however does not understand a lick of Spanish. Someone at some point tuned his radio to that station, and it has been like this ever since then. Charlie not only doesn’t know how to change it, he is terrified of doing so. He is convinced that poorly tuned radio will affect the car’s performance. Yep, he constantly brags about the awesome sound system in his car, and the XM radio which he doesn’t even use. Ever.
After extended argument, I once managed to convince him to let me change it. I set up all the popular music stations on the quick access buttons so that he can switch between them and etc.. Unfortunately the very same day his transmission failed and he had to leave the car in the shop to have it rebuilt. To this day he blames me for that incident. The first thing he made me do after he got the car back was to undo all the changes I did to his radio and bring back the incomprehensible Spanish news radio.
And of course since I “broke his car” in the first place I am now his go-to car guy. He blames me pretty much for everything that goes wrong with the damn thing. All because I touched his radio once. And no amount of explaining will convince him that radio could not possibly affect transmission. To Charlie both are connected. They are in the same car, wired to the same power supply, and etc… He knows there is a connection.
Do you know why the transmission failed though? Because Charlie drives stick. At some point someone told him that automatic transmission is for pussies and he took that advice to heart. He is very proud of the fact he has manual transmission in his car. The only problem is that he does not know how to use it. Charlie confessed to me once that he has no clue why his car has an extra foot pedal. He assumes it is probably one of the advanced features the dealer was telling him about. He tried pressing it once but it didn’t do anything, so he decided he won’t mess with it.
Needless to say, Charlie doesn’t really do any of that fancy reverse driving, parallel parking or what not. He drives forward, in the firs gear. That’s about it. But hey, it works for him – he works 5 minites away from his house, and his co-workers learned the hard way not to park in front of him.
I tried my best to convince Charlie to try automatic transmission at least once, but he managed to convince himself he does not know how to drive one. He knows manual and learning something new is out of the question. I tried to tell him that he wouldn’t have to learn anything new, and his car wouldn’t make those tortured sounds when he puts it into reverse but he didn’t believe me. After all I’m the guy who broke his transmission.
Another thing I broke in Charlies car was his lights. You see, Charlie always leaves the lights on. As you can imagine this drains the battery pretty quickly. Charlie keeps several spares in his house, and one in the trunk at all times. He also has several of those jump start kits lying around. He doesn’t realize this is not normal. I mean, his phone battery lasts about a day or two so he doesn’t see why a car battery wouldn’t get drained just as quickly.
Once turned Charlie’s lights off without knowing his predicament. He couldn’t figure out how to switch them back on again. So for about a month he was driving without his headlights at night and eventually got a ticket. I not only broke his transmission but also made him get a ticket. Fuck.
Despite the fact that I seem to be the source of most of his car problems, he calls me constantly whenever something goes wrong. I continuously tell him to talk to a real mechanic. I know shit about cars, and he knows this. But that’s why he calls me. You see, Charlie hates mechanics. He doesn’t trust them. He calls them “grease apes” (Charlie watched Planet of the Apes once, and learned that the correct term is “Ape”… Yeah, I know… I tried to explain but you know how it is…) and claims they speak moon language and try to rip him off. Compared to him, I’m a fucking expert so he relies on me to fix his day-to-day problems.
For example, at least once a week I get a frantic call from Charlie claiming the car broke in the middle of the street. “Did you put gas in it this week Charlie?” I ask. “Of course I did” he scoffs “I’m not a fucking idiot”. So I grab a tank, fill it up with gas, drive around a bit to find Charlie (cause he can’t give directions for the life of him), fill his tank up and send him on his way. Every fucking week – and sometimes more often.
How would you describe Charlie? Do you think he should get his shit together and learn to use a car like a normal person? Or is that elitist? Would you put up witch Charlies bullshit indefinitely, or would you expect him to eventually become more proficient at using his vehicle? If you were Charlies boss would you consider the fact he once again forgot to fuel his car up a valid excuse for being late? If you were Charlies friend would you continue answering his car related calls day in and day out?
Now consider this: to me, every person who says “You have to bear with me, I’m computer illiterate” is a Charlie. Now, I know – I know. Computers are not cars. But if you drive a car, you should know how to take care of it. Similarly if you use a computer, you should have at least know the bare-bones basics. I don’t expect anyone to be able to write shell scripts, or edit the registry. Just fucking learn to use the software you need for your work.
When you don’t know how to do something, don’t call me, don’t call the IT department. Just figure it out. If you call me, that’s what I’m going to do. I will look through the available toolbars and menus until I see something that might work. If all else fails I will Google “How do I do X in program Y”. Chances are you will find an article or a blog post that explains exactly what you need. That’s how you “learn computers”. If you call me, and I fix it for you while you sip your coffee, stare out the window and day dream you will be computer illiterate for the rest of your life.