father knows less

My dad is a simple man. He doesn’t understand technology and doesn’t want to. He’s never used a computer. He’s less Internet and more fishing net. A few months ago, his work gave him an iPhone and it might as well have been an alien device from the year 3,000. I had quite the time teaching him the basics and he still needs help just answering the thing.

So I was surprised when he asked if I’d heard of the Amazone Echo, as he called it. I told him I had and he said he wanted one so he could use it to listen to music.

“You can just tell it you wanna hear a song and it’ll play it for you, right?” he asked.

I knew he wouldn’t understand that it wasn’t that simple but he was mostly right. “Basically,” I responded.

Since Father’s Day was coming up, I mentioned it to Mom and she and my sister and I all pitched in to get him one. Later on after ordering it, I realized he wasn’t going to use the Echo to its full potential. Since he was going to just use it to listen to music, the Tap or any other bluetooth speaker would have sufficed. But he never asks us for anything and I figured later on, once he got accustomed to it, maybe he would utilize more of its features.

So on Sunday, my sister came over and we all had dinner and then Dad opened his gift. Once he pulled it out of the gift bag, he smiled, a rarity for him. I think he was surprised to get it since he had only casually mentioned it weeks prior.

“This is that thang we were talking about, right?” he asked me.

“Yep.” The next hour or so was spent setting it up. Now I know I just picked on my dad for not knowing his way around a smart device but I found myself getting a little stumped with the setup process. There was lots of downloading apps and setting up accounts but eventually, we got it set up.

And that’s when I had to explain to my dad that he couldn’t just request a specific song. As far as I knew, he’d have to connect the Echo to a streaming music service like Spotify or Pandora. I later figured out he could play specific songs through YouTube by using the Echo as a bluetooth speaker but that would have required him navigating his way around his phone, which defeated the purpose of getting the Echo. I think he was relying on the ease of voice commands.

But he struggled in that department, too. He kept asking Alexa to play a song or turn up the volume without saying her name first. I kept telling him he’s got to “get her attention” by calling her name before giving her a command. And when he did use her name, he yelled into the Echo, “Alexandra!”, “Alexia!”, or “Alexis!” And I thought people got my name wrong all the time.

Lordy. I had to wonder if I should have bought the Tap after all. A tactile technique might have been better after all.

My sister and I joked about how all those young kids with Echoes either ran up their parents’ credit cards with thousands of dollars worth of toys or candy or ended up accidentally purchasing porn of some kind. We wondered if that would happen with Dad. He’d request a Conway Twitty song and end up ordering a sex toy named “Connie’s Titties.” Or even worse, find his way to a Kellyanne Conway podcast.

It’s been a few days and so far, so good. I come home from work to find Dad in his recliner, listening to honky tonk tunes. And there’s no dildos at the doorstep. So, that’s cool. Otherwise, things would go from Amazone to the awkward zone real quick.

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