Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My gas guzzler puts around on the info super HWY

Taking a class to renew my teacher's license this summer, I decided to become one of those people who sit and use their laptops in Starbucks. Little did I know that this would be like taking my "trusty-rusty"  small 2 wheel drive pickup out cruising on a Friday night- embarrassingly out of place.

I opened up my 2003 model Dell Latitude, with it's plug in D-Link card to take advantage of the Barnes&Noble free WiFi. I'd read a journal article and now needed to spend some time writing.

On the other side of a divider, at another table sat a couple of young turks playing with their smart phones and a brand new ipad.

I waited for my edition of Windows XP to load while they laughed and talked about celebrity gossip and the variety of new free apps they were exploring, all the while their conversation peppered with profanity.

Here I was a forty-something abandoning my family so that I could work on professional development, so I can keep my job to put a roof over their heads and clothes on my back- and these college-agers were planning a solo vacation to Washington DC, playing Eminem music as they did it. At least when people wore a Sony WalkMan or even an Apple ipod, their music was private.

I struggled to listen to the jazz that Starbucks plays, but felt like I was stuck at a stoplight next to teenagers in a "pimped-out" sports car blasting hip hop or heavy metal out to the whole neighborhood. Whereas I have to struggle just to hear the AM radio in my little truck over the knocking and pinging of the motor.

My truck has well over 200,000 miles on it. We bought it used at an auto auction.
My laptop doesn't have enough RAM to run Photoshop and a web browser at the same time. I got it for about $240 on eBay.

I take solace in the fact that my truck is utilitarian. It gets me to school and home. It can haul furniture, trash, lawn clippings, groceries and supplies for cheerleaders to the football field or the concessions stand at track meets. I can blog and compose tests and share pictures with my modest, hopelessly obsolete laptop. So who cares that I can't read ebooks on it or use it as a GPS device?

I remind myself that people are more important than things when I'm stuck next to teens and twenty-somethings in shiny new vehicles. I need to do the same with the adolescent techies and their expensive cyber-toys.

Okay, my Judeo-Christian ethos and Buddhist-ish political leanings can help me to maintain my non-materialistic values and not covet their toys. But my middle-aged, overweight, disaffected white guy personality REALLY finds their taste in music annoying.

Ah... finally they've left for the food court to fraternize with the all the female teen mall-maggots. Just me, my TAZO green tea and the Ella Fitzgerald muzak.

Aw shoot- a text from my wife asking me to call as soon as I get a break. Probably needs me to pick up something at the store or to hurry home so that our kids aren't left unsupervised so she can go to some meeting or something.

So much for the romanticized ideal or writing in the cafe like some kind of mid-twentieth century French Existentialist or a New York Beat poet.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are" ~Teddy Roosevelt ( I might add- and do it in what little time you have to do it.)

Modest, practical and utilitarian. That's the Iowan way. I should know how to be happy this way, after all I'm Lutheran. Guess it's just the curse of being an Irishman living among the Germans.

Time to pack up my archaic computer and head back home in the family minivan. At least it has air conditioning, unlike my pickup- which I left parked at home. Because minivans are so cool and manly for driving around a college campus in summer.

No comments: