Hey, Apple! Want a great story line for a new ad?
I stopped over to visit my mother and sister, Bonnie, in our family’s old WWII-era Kahala home, tucked away between two generations of late arriving McMansions along one of the old streets in the neighborhood.
They had just gotten back from a trip to the bank, so my timing was perfect. We talked for a bit about the news of the day, about my recent flu, the phone problems they’ve been having, Bonnie’s thoughts on a new laptop, and news of my nieces and nephew on the mainland. At some point, I took out my iPad just to check my email and review any pending blog comments.
My mother, who had her 98th birthday in May, looked over from her favorite chair, where she sits like a pilot in a crowded space capsule, surrounded by genealogical research materials, recent mail, the day’s newspaper, financial records, and who knows what all!
“What’s that,” she said, pointing at me. “It’s an iPad,” I said, not sure how much more she wanted to hear.
Her hearing is terrible, even when she’s got her hearing aids working.
“An iPad,” I repeated, a little louder and a little slower.
“What does it do?”
“Well, I said, it’s like a little computer. I can check email, read newspapers, write letters….” I trail off, now not sure where this is going.
It took a minute for her to process her next question. This time she looked at Bonnie.
“Could I read those genealogy messages you were showing me?”
Bonnie apparently was displaying messages in several genealogy forums, where people can ask questions about ancestors and families, and others can provide answers, clues, evidence, documents, etc.
Both Bonnie and my mom are way deep into genealogical research, scanning family history spanning many generations, a number of states, and several countries.
I think we must have both rushed into the offered space with the same answer: “Yes, of course you could use an iPad to read those.”
My mom now looked very interested. We’ve talked to her about getting a computer for years, but she could always find a reason not to do it. So we’re both excited about pursuing this opening.
So I asked: “What’s one of the family names you would like to check?”
It only took her a few seconds. “Fitzgerald.”
So I did a quick Google search for “fitzgerald family forum”, and came up with a long list of possibilities.
I leaned over her shoulder, and clicked on one of the forum links. Then I showed her how to click on any one of the messages, see what was in it, and then click to go back to the list.
She tried it, hesitantly but interested. She peered at the screen to read the message.
“How do I go back?”
I pointed to the little “back” arrow again.
She tried it again, then looked up.
Then came her next question.
“How much does it cost?”
Let me interject here. My mother is cheap. Frugal is probably the better word. She prides herself on being able to do more with less. She loves touring the neighborhood garage sales on Saturdays, always finding little treasures. She knows which supermarket has sales on the items she needs this week, and avoids buying those things if they aren’t on sale.
I wondered about sugar coating the cost of an iPad, so first mentioned that we could maybe get “last year’s model,” an iPad 2, for a discounted price.
Bonnie and I both jumped to look up the current prices on both new and reconditioned iPad 2 models.
But then I realized this might be her only computer. Why insist on saving that last $100?
So we made it a joke, but said a new iPad of the current model would cost $500.
“Would I need anything else?” she asked. “And how do I get to that Internet?”
Bonnie explained that the iPad would get its information without wires from their existing Oceanic broadband connection.
My mother doesn’t really get how that works. But she can see that it does work. She was satisfied.
“Where can you buy one?”
I think she was a little disappointed to hear that there aren’t really competing sources of iPads complete with price competition. But driving the half-mile to the Apple Store at Kahala Mall is pretty easy to do.
I think we’re going there tomorrow, or, at worst, before the end of the week.
And I bet she’s going to have fun exploring the reaches of the Internet on her new iPad. At age 98.
As my sister says, “Never let it be said that one is too old to learn new tricks.”