Wednesday, August 09, 2017


My son dropped by this past weekend to stir up his parents' dull existence and to see Green Day perform at the Oakland Coliseum. There were dinners at the kitchen table. There was a trip to the local cineplex. There was a lot of talk about this and that, but there was an awful lot of talk about technology. My son, the theater arts major, spent the last few months being employed by his college's engineering department as their IT guy. While this mix of specialties might seem odd for those of you tuning in just now, knowing my son's predilection to most things mechanical makes it less startling. He has reasoned, and for the most part successfully backed up, that anything he can watch happen step by step on YouTube can be replicated  in his living room. Or garage. Or someone else's living room.
This is how he learned to replace his own brakes. Change his oil. Swap out hard drives. These were not skills that were passed along from father to son. Though my own power tool acumen continues to grow, I can only feel truly responsible for his periodically snarky sense of humor. The rest of these abilities come from a certain fearlessness which I cannot fully comprehend.
This, I believe, is how he finally got his new job at Best Buy selling TVs. He will go on about color, contrast and clarity at absurd lengths. He was able to this many months before he ever started wearing a blue shirt. While I was busy memorizing comedy albums in college, my son took a different path: researching component technology and capacities. When he speaks, there are times that I hear a bit of his grandfather the printing salesman coming through. He knows his stuff, and he wants to share it with anyone who cares to listen. LCD, LED, OLED, MOUSE, letters that have made glancing connection to my life and daily world, but my son has taken the time to explain them to his old man. My father, who used to say that he had printer's ink in his veins, would happily discuss the offset printing process if anyone gave him an ear. Mostly he wanted his customers to know that he understood and he was going to make sure they got the best he could get.
I know that my son did not expect to be a Best Buy Blue Shirt when he grew up, and I imagine that he has plenty more stops to make on his career bus. It is interesting to see his name on a badge, not too very different from the one that was made for me when I started work at Arby's back in the twentieth century. I don't suppose I ever cared as much about the roast beef sandwiches I was serving as he does about the home theaters he sells. There aren't as many moving parts to a big screen TV, and they are probably more digestible than your standard Beef 'n' Cheddar.
This is all part of the wandering path our son is taking on the way to becoming an adult. It's a fun ride, and most of the time he doesn't mind stopping by to hook up our new router if he's in town. It was nice having him around.

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