When Technology Fails, or, How Google Tried to Kill Me

Looking back on the weekend I can see now that it was one of those 48hr periods where I really ought to have just stayed in the comfort and safety of my home, and not left for any reason short of a house fire.

Saturday was a normal working day for me, but around noon I took a break to drive Dorinda to the Ferry. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but for anyone new, the Ferry is the only sane way to get to Manhattan from where we live. Some idiots try to drive their cars in, like it’s 1962 again, but I hate that options. It’s nothing but hair pulling, road raging, and paying $40 for 2 hours of parking. Anyway, I often bitch to Brian that since we’ve moved here I feel like I spend most of my waking hours driving someone to, or picking someone up at, the Ferry. Truth be told though, I rather like it. Its a nice little drive, I get to see New York harbor, and while my wife and brother can be trying sometimes, I like helping them out in this capacity.

On the way home I was going to pick up my other brother who lives in a group home hear our house and take him over to a friend’s for the afternoon. I was sort of sleepy so I thought I would get a coffee along the way. While doing so I managed to lock my keys in my car. With the engine running. How I did this is unimportant. It’s enough to say that I found myself standing on the edge of the Island (literally), fresh snow falling all around me, no cell phone because it was out of batteries, and a moderately warm cup of crappy gas station coffee.

Sadly, there are no Starbucks or fancy coffee shops along Richmond Terrace -a road that snakes along the northern edge of Staten Island. Its something of an urban wasteland punctuated with scrap yards, tug boat docks, and abandoned buildings. It’s not all like that. Snug Harbor is on the Terrace and it’s beautiful. But the part I was stuck in could best be described as “industrial bleak”.

Anyway, this 2 minute side quest for coffee turned into nearly a 2 hour ordeal. Good brother Dave came and tried to break into my car for me. The gas station guy was nice enough to let me use his phone. After removing a lot of paint from my car door and getting a coat hanger to almost unlock the door, we sat in Dave’s Jeep and I used his phone to call AAA -who arrived in about half a hour and had the car open in under ten seconds.

So where was my phone during all this. Good question. It was at home, on the charger, even though it had spent the entire previous night also on the charger. I don’t know if its my phone in particular, or all Droid’s in general, but if you don’t plug that thing in *just so* it refuses to notice that there is a connection between it and an electrical socket. My favorite is when I plug the cable into the phone and nothing happens. if I unplug the outlet end from the wall and then put it back in SUDDENLY the phone acknowledges the physical link between it and the great North East electrical grid.

It’s very annoying.

So I thought it was all charged up, but when I left for the Ferry with Dorinda I saw that it was not, so I plugged it in and made sure it was getting juice. I would be back in a few minutes. I would be okay without my phone. It wasn’t like I was going to stop at a sketchy gas station hanging off the lip of the Island for some bad coffee and lock myself out of my car or anything. That would be rediculous.

Ahem . . .

I did get to watch the boats though. And that always make me feel happy.

Saturday night as I am going to bed i check my phone. It’s got 90% power so I decide not to charge it, and I run the App Killer thing to make sure there isn’t a bunch of background stuff draining the battery.

On Sunday I decide to take a break and bring the Widget to visit the NY Transit Museum in Brooklyn. As is standard operating procedure I Googled the museum and then hit the MAPS link when I’d found it. I could have driven there, but the Widget loves riding the Ferry. No prob. So do I. We walk through Battery Park, hop on the 4 Train, and head for Utica Ave.

I should pause here and tell you that I tried to print out the directions from Google. But I have a wireless duplex printer made by Brothers. If I’d know how it worked before I purchased it I would NEVER have bought this printer. You’d think, like most other wireless things the bluetooth in your computer would talk to the bluetooth in the printer and it would, y’know, print shit for you. Oh no. Not this steaming pile of printer.

It needs to talk to the router. All print requests go through the router. And every time you clean your hard drive, the router gets reset by a flicker in the power, or any of a million ways that the constant flow of date from the printer to the router might be interrupted the printer goes off-line. To get it back online you have to physically plug it into the router -which is 2 stories below me. NOT CONVENIENT. And even then I always have to call tech support who walk me through this elaborate process of hitting the GO button ten times really fast while rubbing my belly and patting my head and . . .omg it’s a fucking nightmare. So I haven’t used this piece of shit printer in months.

No problem. The directions are straight forward. I write them on a post-it note. Which I then lose immediately.

Still no problem. I’m to take the 4 Train to Utica Ave. then its a right turn, then a left and bam, you’re there.

The only glitch in all this is that Utica Ave. is in Crown Heights, which is nowhere near the fucking museum and, oh by the way, NOT a good place to hang out with your 10yr old daughter. CH is not the worst neighborhood I’ve ever been in. Not by a long shot. But it’s pretty shitty. It’s mainly a poor mix of Caribbeans and Hasidic Jews. The two groups do often don’t get along as illustrated by what I can only describe as a mobile NYPD sniper tower that I ran into 2 blocks away from the train station.

So I can’t find the museum and I have no idea that I’m miles away from it.  No problem again. I take out my phone, which had 70% power back at the Ferry, and I turn it on. I’d turned it off at the Ferry to make sure I would have tons of battery power, because I am notorious for getting lost everywhere I go. I’ve been known to get disoriented walking to the coffee shop on the corner. So I turn my Droid on -3% FUCKING POWER -WHAAAAAATTT?? It shuts itself off and wont turn back on.

Okay, okay. Don’t panic. Oh wait there was this homeless/crackhead looking motherfucker who had been walking up behind me while I was dicking around with my phone! He was clearly walking right at me. But when the phone died I swung around not really knowing he was there. I was trying to get my bearings. I’m not a scary person. I’m pretty sure the fact that I live a non-physical, easy urban lifestyle is broadcast quite clearly in my outward appearance.

But at that moment I was full of impotent rage. Rage at my shitty printer. Rage at Google maps. And Rage at my phone. The crackhead saw something he didn’t like, and without slowing down spun on his heel and walked quickly in the opposite direction.

Now I fall back on Plan Q. The NFT (Not for Tourists) guide to New York. This is probably the most amazing little black book of maps and subways lines that you could ever own if you were visiting NYC, London, or wherever else they make this book for. So i find the 4 Train back in Manhattan and start following it from one map to the next, looking for the Utica Ave stop -HOLY FUCK I’VE GONE OFF THE GODDAMNED MAP!

Like . . literally I’d gone so far that the NFT no longer considered me to be within the boundaries of new York City. I was in that area you see on old nautical maps of the New World. The part where the sea monsters and flaming oceans be. Otherwise known as Crown Heights, the gross demilitarized zone between NYC-proper and where shit starts calling itself Long Island.

However, with the help of the NFT I am able to find the museum -it was exactly ONE SUBWAY STATION away from where we’d started that morning. You could probably have seen it from the Manhattan side of the East River.

Despite all this garbage the Widget and I have a fantastic day and the NY Transit Museum is awesome fun! It’s located in a real subway station, tells you all about how they built the subways, there are vintage cars dating back to the early 1900’s. During the “holiday season”, (not sure what the dates of said season are anymore), you can take rides on these old cars. They called them Nostalgia Tours or something like this, and for the regular cost of a ride on the subway you can step back in time. Even the advertising inside the cars is period appropriate. very cool.

I wish I had pics to share. But as I mentioned, my phone was dead . . .

  • http://www.nuklearpower.com Brian!

    Next time I’m up there, let’s be sure to do nothing but hang out in the studio and make comics.

  • Anonymous

    I saw a printer/scanner/copier today at Staples with a detachable, wireless 7″ color touchscreen interface.

    Clearly, the makers have lost their effin’ minds.

  • Scott!

    When it works my Brothers printer is amazing. I bought it specifically for printing PDFs double-sided that I could take to a place like Staples to have spiral bound or whatever.

    But when it stops working the process involved in making it work again is so retarded that after the last time it happened I hit that threshold where the payoff no longer outweighed the hassle.

  • Scott!

    I’m going to drug your coffee so that you fall asleep on the train and then I’ll just leave you there to ride it with the rest of the unconscious bums.

  • http://twitter.com/astralplaydoh Chris Despres

    Buy a UPS for your router. This way, if you lose power or if the power flickers or anything, your router won’t reset.

  • Scott!

    Yeah but, now the “great deal” I got on the printer turns into “Wow that cost a lot of money in the end.” And it also happens if I accidentally clear the printer cookies (or whatever) from my laptop. And when I want a new computer to use it? I have to lug it all to the router AGAIN.

    It blows.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, it sounds like there’s a basic defect in the way that printer handles wireless, or there’s something tech support isn’t telling you.

  • http://www.daveflora.blogspot.com Daveflora

    Yep. This is exactly why I live in a town so small I could fall across it. :)

    I’m glad you’re still living, Scott!


  • Scott!

    I did that for years -the small town thing. But gawd! Sooooooo boring.

    I would literally get excited to drive past the dairy farm down the street, just for something interesting to look at.

    I miss those cows . .

  • http://www.nuklearpower.com Brian!

    They do NOT miss him, I guarantee ya.

  • Scott!

    Oh they miss me alright.

    Ironically, when I first moved to NH back in 1995 cows really freaked me out. I’d never seen them up close before.

  • Brian M.

    You know, your life would make a pretty interesting comedic comic.