When we launched Davis Tech Teachers (now Tech Over 60) two years ago and announced our first “iPhone & iPad Essentials” class, we had enough signups to fill two additional sections of the class. So, teaching was how we envisioned the forward path and the core of our business. Teaching and troubleshooting.
We were yet to discover what the heart and soul of our work would be.
We still love teaching and troubleshooting, but along the way we’ve discovered that it is the personal connection, and sometimes the poignancy of the relationships we experience with our fellow seniors, that make tech support so much more than just a business for us.
Let us share a few stories with you.
George and the lost iPhone ~ George was one of our first private clients last year. At 92 George was still physically active but was having great difficulty with his memory. He was referred to us because he had purchased a new iPad after having lost his old iPhone a few weeks earlier, and he needed help learning to use the iPad. It was overwhelming to him. It was nothing like the phone he was comfortable and familiar with.
As we drove away from our first meeting with George we remembered that he had mentioned in passing how he often stopped at a local coffee shop during his long walks around town. We wondered if maybe he’d left his iPhone at the café. We drove to the coffee shop and asked the manager if – by any small chance – there was an iPhone in their lost and found. And there it was. We were able to send back the iPad that was vexing him, and with a fresh new battery his old familiar iPhone was back in his hands and working beautifully.
We no longer had an iPad tutoring job, but we had the absolute pleasure of meeting a man with warmth and grace, and seeing the relief that the return of his old iPhone gave him.
Anita and her late husband’s computer ~ Some of the calls we receive are from widowed women who tell us “my husband used to do all the tech stuff.” What was unusual about 81-year-old Anita, though, is that she was calling for tech help only four weeks after her husband had passed away.
We would never have guessed that Anita was recently widowed from our first phone conversation with her. She was warm and funny as could be as she explained to us that she needed to learn “everything.” We laughed and said “OK, Anita, but what would you like to learn first?”
“Everything! And you have to promise you won’t laugh until after you’ve left my house!”
We loved Anita already.
As it turned out, she was very anxious to learn how to use her late husband’s computer so that she could email all his contacts and make sure they knew of his passing. It was a bittersweet tutoring session. We sat with her until she had taken notes for herself and felt reasonably comfortable with how to send an email.
We met with Anita just one time, but we won’t forget her.
Sarah’s first text message ~ Sarah and her husband attended our “iPhone & iPad Essentials” class last year. Sarah interrupted us often and asked a lot of questions. She looked quite frustrated as the class progressed, often struggling to follow along with what we were demonstrating.
Toward the end of the class Sarah suddenly gasped and let out a screech of utter surprise and delight. She had just successfully sent her first text message (much to her own surprise), and the reply from her daughter was immediate:
“You rock Mom!”
That moment made the whole class worth it for her, and everyone in the room could relate to her oh-my-goodness-I-did-it delight.
Tech support, it turns out, is a uniquely personal endeavor.
On the side of our clients, there is the willingness to allow us to witness the embarrassment over not understanding how to make something work; or to let us go into the bedroom where the router is located; or to tell us about having been scammed or having accidentally downloaded malware. It’s not easy when you feel vulnerable to call someone you barely know and let them in on your very human needs and concerns.
On our own side, there is the soft spot we have for the seniors, young and old, who trust us in their homes and offices and with their computers, and the genuine affection we feel for the clients who have “dared” us to teach them something and then been surprised that they really could do it.
There is also a poignancy about working with seniors. We were saddened recently to see George, who took long walks only a few weeks ago, now confined to a wheelchair due to a stroke. Not long after that we learned that a kind, friendly man who’d asked us for help retrieving his deleted contacts had passed away only a couple of weeks after we visited him. Despite knowing him for less than two hours, we felt a real and acute sense of sadness and loss.
We cherish all of it – the heartwarming and the heartbreaking aspects of our work – because it is all real life. It is rich, emotional and perfectly imperfect. It’s the very human side of tech support. And it’s why we love our work.