Modern technology is mind-boggling awesome. As a child of the seventies I am still trying to figure out how a fax machine works. There are so many amazing things we can do today, things that was the stuff of science fiction movies a few decades ago. My son’s summed up the speed of progress quite effectively when he realised with shock and awe that 16 years ago his dad didn’t own a mobile phone.
Sometimes even the most sophisticated, modern, gadget-liking man can be ambushed by this excessive rate of change. Mr Technological Development can overtake so quickly, it will leave your ignorance exposed and naked in the wake of his dust trail. Or just dump you smack-hard on your ass in the middle of a crowd, like this one guy I know. Let’s call him John*.
John* was visiting a customer in the big city and after business was concluded, they went outside to savour some fresh air with some white and yellow sticks between their fingers. (I am not judging the man.) Once finished, they had to go back up to the seventh floor to collect their laptops etc.
The meeting took place in one of those glass fitted monstrosities, people call office buildings. Generic to all these buildings are the expansive lobbies with gleaming white marble tiles and heavy chandeliers dangling dangerously from the high ceiling. On the left of the open space, a big marble counter is cropped up against the wall, attended by a very bored looking security guard, waiting anxiously for something to do. In the middle of the floor, framed by the counter on the left and more glass and steel on the right is five turnstiles, limiting the excess of workers/visitors to the building. Channelling the mindless many going to and from work. Thus NO access card, NO entry.
John* and his host re-entered the building and realised his visitors card was still in the conference room, seven stories up. He mentioned it briefly to his host, and the host replied unflappably: “Don’t worry, just state your name and the company you’re visiting. Then you can enter to the left.”
John* frowned and looked at the counter with the motionless security guard. This guard must be either (1) A humanoid-Bishop-thingy from Aliens or (2) A fucking genius. How else would he be able to remember all the visitors going in and out of this building on a given day. John* decided it wise to not say anything, walked up to the counter, looked the now confused guard straight in the eye and said slowly: “I’m Pieter and I’m here with BPL.”
At that exact moment someone cracked up to his right and John* spun around quickly just in time to see his host doubling over the turnstile.
“Into the camera dickhead, not to the guard. State your name into the camera,” he blurted out through hysterics.
The curtains raised and the spotlight shone brightly. Low and behold, slightly to the left of the guard, stood an odd-looking ball on the counter, with an infrared screen. A modern version of the Magic-8-ball. It looked like a prop straight out of Star Trek…the elusive security camera. Realising his monumental mistake
Pieter John* turned red with the speed of light. He saw a glimpse of a smile spreading on the lips of the guard.
Red John* thought: “If you laugh I will kick your two front teeth in,” but only turned his crimson face to the opaque ball and repeated the sentence: “My name is Pieter and I’m here for BPL.”
He proceeded to win the gold medal in the Olympic sport of walking, with the elevators as the finish line. It was said that the laughter of the host could be heard for days thereafter, and the guard standing at the counter died from too much excitement. John* has never spoke about his brush with technology. Until now.
John* is a fictitious name used to protect the integrity of the person who made an ass of himself.