TECHNOLOGY: New system a headache

To borrow a line from Charles Dickens, “It is the best of times; it is the worst of times.”

I’m talking about modern technology. At 88, I know I’m addressing mostly seniors who wonder how they ever got along without a cell phone, as an example, but often are frustrated when electronic devices — computers, printers, telephone problems, home security systems, etcetera — malfunction. Usually, we become impatient, even angry, and sometimes react irrationally — as I did the other day.

Unlike Donald Trump, I normally don’t mind apologizing when necessary, but a public apology for my stupidity? Painful as it is, I feel obligated to do so. Let me explain. It’s complicated.

Less than six months ago I changed my home security system. A few days ago, after receiving an incoming phone call, my home office began blurting out a loud, sustained clicking noise — click, click, click, click! What triggered it, I don’t have a clue. But by unplugging my power cord temporarily, thus disabling my computer and who knows what else those tangled cords behind my desk connect to, I was able to stop the clicking.

Strangely, not every incoming call activates the sound. Nonetheless, the problem persists and after a second phone call to CenturyLink, a technician came to my house and after checking my phone box suggested the problem could be my security system.

“You might give them a call,” he said.

The white panel box installed in my laundry room has no company name, no phone number, just two buttons — Emergency and Home. Clicking on Home got me Security (with an icon of a bull horn suggesting an alarm) and Services. I clicked on Services and got a message saying “Feature not available.”

I searched my house for hours looking for paperwork, a contract, a business card, a phone number, to no avail. Given a six-month credit, automatic withdrawal from my bank for monthly payments had not started. Security signs in my yard were from the previous company. Meanwhile, the intermediate clicking continues, so I sent e-mails to family and friends not to call on my land line. Having exhausted all hope of finding a company name and/or phone number, I went to my small white box.

I clicked on Emergency. A huge mistake!

No person on the end of the line, merely a screaming alarm and buttons — lots of them, including a panel with numbers inside small squares. I know my password, but misfired several times.

Within three or four minutes, a large fire truck arrived in front of my house and two responders were knocking on my door and peering through a glass pane. A third fireman was unlocking my lock box for a key.

“What’s your emergency?” one of them said.

I can’t recall how I answered, but I do recall the dour expressions on their faces as they wordlessly turned to leave. So embarrassing. Days later, I found the phone number, called the company and am waiting for someone to come and solve the clicking problem.

I would hope those fine young people who knocked on my door and others like them who only a few years ago helped prolong my wife’s life when they responded to a real emergency, will accept my apology for that stupid false alarm.

So embarrassing.

Jack Hawn

SUN CITY WEST



You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.