Tuesday, 10 February 2015

TURN ON - PUSH/TALK - LET GO/LISTEN. HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT?



I was in a new shop called HOME BARGAINS today (it's
new in our shopping centre anyway) and saw a portable door chime
kit at a very reasonable price.  Back home, in preparation for fitting it,
I first had to remove the old one which no longer worked (and hadn't
for some time).  That's when the memories resurfaced of an earlier
house and an earlier time from around 30 years ago.

You see, dear reader, I'd first purchased that door bell when
I lived in that other house, which was the one it was intended for.  I
probably bought it at least a year before we moved back to my present
abode (regular readers know the story), but I simply never got around to
it.  However,  I had first envisioned it on that other front door, and even
'though I've passed it on my way in and out of my present address for
around 25 years (I was back here for about two years before I had
it fitted), I still mainly associate it with my previous home.  With
one exception that is, which I am now about to relate.

I say 'door bell', but it was actually an ARCHER intercom
set I'd purchased in TANDY.  My reason for acquiring it was so that
my elderly parents could check who was at the front door before open-
ing it, but it proved to be a futile ambition.  When I eventually got around
to having it fitted (in my present house, remember), I carefully explained
the rather easy procedure for operating it, which was this.  "When some-
one rings the bell, turn on the intercom, then press the button clearly
marked 'push/talk' and ask who it is.  When you've done that, let go
of the button in order to hear the response.  Got that?  Turn on -
push/talk - let go/listen."  I demonstrated it several times,
but they simply couldn't get the hang of it.

I'd go to the front door, ring the bell, and, my father would 
forget to press the 'on' button to activate the thing.  He would simply
press the 'push/talk' button, but because the intercom wasn't switched
on, I couldn't hear him.  Again I would demonstrate the simple three part
procedure:  "Turn on intercom when you hear the bell, press the 'push/
talk' button to ask who's at the door, let go of the button to listen to the
response."  In my impatience, I felt that teaching retarded chimps how
to clap their hands would've been easier, so uncoordinated and un-
comprehending were they in following my simple instructions.

I was driven to frustration and tempted to bang my head off the
wall - ironically akin to what it felt I was already doing in trying to im-
part enlightenment to my parents.  I could've house-trained an incon-
tinent puppy sooner than it seemed I'd ever be able to teach them those
three simple steps.  "NO!  Turn the bloody thing on first.  Look - (Click!) 
Now press the 'push/talk'  button  and speak - (Press!)  'Hello, who's
there?'  Now let go of the 'push/talk' button and listen - 'It's the
Milk Man come for his money!'  How bloody difficult is
that, for feck's feckin' sake?  Aaaarggghhhh!"

They still couldn't do it.  Even when they remembered to turn it
on first, they'd forget to let go of the 'push/talk' button after speaking,
so they couldn't hear me at the door shouting "Let go of the feckin' push/
talk button for feck's sake - how many feckin' times do I have to tell you?"
Sometimes my father would push the button, speak, forget to let go, then
suddenly remember, by which time I (or whoever was at the door) had
finished replying.  As there was no answer (already having been given)
he would ask again, "Who's there?", but he would forget to press
the 'push/talk' button first so he was talking to himself.

"It doesn't work!" was their blunt assessment of the device
designed to protect them from dodgy characters at the front door.
"No, IT works, it's your BRAINS that don't!" were the tender, loving
words from their dutiful, affectionate and caring son.  It was pointless to
persist.  They never used it and I soon gave up trying to show them how
simple it was.  What is it about age that turns the brain to mush?  I hope
I'm not that bereft of comprehension when I'm as old as they were then.
Of course, it may simply have been that my parents thought there was
nothing any mere youth could teach them, and therefore paid no
more than superficial heed to my 'technical' instructions.

Anyway, a new bell is now fitted, but - worn and non-working
as the old intercom set now is - I don't think I'll ever throw it out.
Too many memories, and, the above tale apart, mainly associated
with the previous home for which it was originally intended.
     Funny that, eh?     

25 comments:

Ken said...

Old age and the confusion it brings to some is never easy to deal with. Difficult for the carer I know but your comments about your parents are a tad unkind Kid.

Ken.

Arfon Jones said...

Been there! I recall the time my grandmother fancied having a answering machine/fax phone.... Oh boy... Looks fantastic, love anything that looks 'retro' with minor weathering to it

Kid said...

A 'tad unkind', Ken? To myself perhaps. I'm painting a humorous ('though truthful) word-picture of my younger self's reaction to their inability to grasp the operation of a non-complicated piece of 'technology'. My description of my frustration is how I felt at the time. It's my over-the-top response that's being held up to ridicule in this honest and accurate account of how my parents couldn't master a simple three-step operation. It illustrates two things (at least): 1) The difficulties of old age and the deterioration of the faculties it brings, and 2) The impatience of younger people's response to older people's 'fogginess'. It's old-age that's unkind, Ken.

******

I'm thinking of cleaning up that 'minor weathering', AJ, and returning it to it's former glory.

Arfon Jones said...

To each his own I guess...I’m currently dry brushing a similar effect to something so I can appreciate the beauty of real rust! I can also relate to this scenario, I often found myself like King of Swamp Castle in Holly Grail and one of my grandparents as a guard...

Kid said...

I'd like to get it working again, AJ, and I feel that if I manage it, I'd prefer it to look as it did when I first bought it. I'm the same with my comics - I prefer them to be in pristine condition rather than stained and wrinkled. (In fact, that's my view on women as well.)

I suppose how one views my account (humorous or unkind) may depend on which side of the fence one is on (age-wise), AJ. If you're younger, then you perhaps relate to the frustration that comes from the situation of trying to explain a simple procedure to an uncomprehending adult, and if you're older, your empathise more with the aged. Being somewhere in the middle-ground, as I am now, I can see both points of view.

John Pitt said...

Hilarious tale, Kid. Would make a great sketch in a TV sitcom!
Yeah, old age is cruel, but having a laugh at some of the frustrating situations we find ourselves in is the best way to deal with them!

Kid said...

Right on, JP. Letting some air out of the balloon relieves the strain.

Colin Jones said...

That reminds me of trying to explain to my mother how a microwave oven worked - she just didn't get it and never used it. Is it really to do with old age though - my mother was in her early fifties at the time (circa 1983). And look at the example of the 2011 referendum on changing the voting system - the proposed AV voting system was perfectly easy to understand but made out by its' opponents to be complicated and confusing which the majority seemed to agree with unfortunately.

Kid said...

Ooh, politics. Maybe it is easy to understand for those who understood it, and difficult for those who don't - which happened to be the majority in this instance. I've never looked at it myself, so don't have an opinion one way or another.

Colin Jones said...

Well, plenty of other countries use voting systems other than our simplistic (and grossly unfair) "first past the post" method - and they all seem to manage okay. What gets me about the people in this country is that they are always whingeing about how terrible and out of touch politics is but when they get a chance to make a change they reject it and stick with the old system !

Kid said...

Well, I assume that they obviously don't share your view on the present system being grossly unfair, CJ. Or, if they do, that AV is much (if any) of an improvement. As I said, not having looked into the matter, I have (as yet) no opinion on it one way or the other.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, at the time of the 2010 General Election the majority thought (according to opinion polls taken on the matter) that the current voting system WAS unfair and should be changed - only a year later the referendum result was the completely opposite result. This was because they had been won over by biased politicians who wanted to keep the old system and their mouthpieces in the tabloid press.

Kid said...

Polls, schmolls, CJ. Unless they ask absolutely everyone in the country, polls are seldom accurate. And even when they are, it's usually a coincidence.

Colin Jones said...

Actually, polls are very accurate these days - it's the voters who are fickle, that's the problem !

Kid said...

Polls are like the ones on the telly ads. 8 out of 10 cat owners say their cats preferred it. Had they asked 100 cat owners, maybe the ones who preferred it would still only be 8. There's no real way of knowing if polls are truly representative of the wider public opinion, CJ.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

We'll all be old one day and no doubt will find things our kids think are easy to master are as complex as rocket science (Im like that already re some PC things) - I had a similar situation with my wee mum trying to tell he how to send a text on the new mobile phone that I got for her (she was ok with calling) but for some reason she just never got it, saying that we had a really good laugh about it all and I just left it at that as she was not going to get it (she was sharp as a tac on everything else)but strangely I can't throw that old phone out as like you Kid it brings back some nice fun memories of my mum.

Kid said...

Very true about us all being old one day, McScotty, but I'd like to think that pressing two buttons in sequence and then letting one go (oo-er, missus) is something that would ever be beyond my capabilities. Time will tell, eh? Now, what do I press again to submit this comment?

DeadSpiderEye said...

What you gonna use to tart it up Hammerite? That's pretty good stuff, if you wanna go to town you could fill in the pitting with plumbers lead or something too.

Kid said...

Yup, DSE, that's what I was going to use - Hammerite. I'll sand down the metal part first, so any pitting won't be a problem.

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Ah, so you're new to the delights of Home Bargains? Or "Home & Bargains" as several generations of us on Merseyside have known it...

There's really no need for any other shop if you've got one of them on your high street.

Kid said...

It reminds me of Woolworth's for some reason, THB. Seems like a great store.

TwoHeadedBoy said...

It's a LOT like Woolworth's. I usually do about two-thirds of my Xmas shopping in there, as well as getting most of my food in there too.

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Oh, and "funnily enough", our local Woolies became a Home & Bargain after it closed.

Kid said...

Their Candarel sweeteners (105 tablets) costs 69p compared to 99p in Body Care. However, their 400 dispenser is £2.69 compared to BC's £1.99, so it's a bit 'swings & roundabouts' with some things. I like their sandwiches and wraps 'though.

Kid said...

Oops! In my response to McScotty, that should have been 'isn't', not 'is'. As in 'not something that would ever be...'

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