I am spoiled. Married to a computer engineer, I have 24-7 technology help, and to his credit, he keeps my computers buzzing along. While he loves to be my “hands on” guy, he also gets into these moods where he insists I learn more about technology and computers. At one time, I could pretend I was listening, and I would nod a lot and say, “Okay, that sounds good, Hun”, but that all changed when he sent me to Micro Center for the first time.
In case you don’t know what a Micro Center is, it is GeekTopia. This store is packed with aisles of components and parts and quite frankly, the only two things that look familiar to me in any of those aisles are the surge protectors and copy paper. I might be exaggerating a bit because the store does display laptops, tablets and electronic devices. They even put Mac stuff and PC stuff in separate rooms so the geeks who are loyal to one or the other cannot fight. I don’t know if that is truly the reason, but this is the story I made up in my head. Don’t judge; I have to do something fun when I go there.
Micro Center is a utilitarian store that is for people who know what they are looking for, and that is what draws my husband to it. Unfortunately, since my husband has a full-time job out of the house, the responsibility for purchasing the needed computer products has at times fallen upon my shoulders which means I have been forced to venture to Micro Center alone.
One of the first things one notices upon entering this store is that customers–mainly men, who look a lot like my husband, mull around and talk about computer stuff. I have often said that if Micro Center put in a coffee bar, their customers would never leave. This store is to nerds what Starbucks is to caffeine addicts. Secondly, the help is never an 18-year-old kid who “knows” about computers. The help is always some high-tech degree guy who really “knows” about computers and sort of wants his customers to know about them as well. And this is where I have encountered problems.
The first time I went in this store without backup, I was nervous, but I walked up to a salesman, who was deeply involved in tech talk with another salesman and said,
“Hi. I need a hard drive.”
The man was so eager to help. I had to give him kudos on this. With an animated tone in his voice, he asked,
“Internal or External?”
“I don’t know. I think it’s for the outside of the computer.”
“External then. Do you want USB, 802.11 LAN or wireless LAN?
“What? I don’t know what you are saying. I need one that plugs into the PC.”
This seemed to have been a logical answer because he came back with another question,
“So, USB then, how big?”
For a second, I thought this was a sex question, but then I remembered I was in Micro Center, and the salesman quickly threw in,
“How much storage do you need Megabytes, terabytes?”
It was at this point, I knew I was out of my league. I gave the salesman a frustrated look, cursed my husband under my breath and said,
“I have no idea.” And doing my best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, I uttered, “I’ll be back.”
I went home without the part, and my husband could not understand how I could have confused the nice people at Micro Center. Yes, he took their side. So, I put down a new rule about Micro Center: I do not go there alone unless I am armed with a picture of the product I need.
My husband laughed at this, but lo and behold, last weekend, he wanted to add something new to our big computer – that’s my technical jargon for our non-laptops, and he asked if I had time to go to Micro Center and get what he needed. I reminded him of the rule. So, he emailed me a color ad with the product, model number and price. I printed it out and again headed to GeekTopia.
When I walked in, several salesmen came to my assistance. I have to think the salesmen here either do not see many writers or women – either way, they were anxious to help, but the lead salesman shooed the others away, and he asked, “May I help you?”
This time, I was confident, and without a hint of hesitation in my voice, I pulled out the color ad, nicely shoved it in his face and said,
“I need this. Can you get it for me?”
And in less than five minutes, without having to answer any technical questions, I was out in the parking lot with my new “I still don’t know what it is” part. I now love this Micro Center store. If only it had a coffee bar; maybe I would hang out and learn more.