Today my wife and I went shopping for a used van — such are the necessities of a two-kid family. My two door Civic wasn’t really cutting it anymore when I was trying to navigate babies and car seats to the cramped back of it. So with tearfully fond memories of a car I’ve had since 2003, we rode off to a few dealerships to hunt down a deal.
I won’t bore you with the details (we finally purchased a 2009 Mazda5, which could only graciously be called a “van-like” station wagon, but it’ll suit our needs just fine), although we were plenty bored. I don’t know if you’ve been car shopping before, but if you haven’t, you need to be prepared for the huge stretches of nothing that happens. Every time I’ve gone shopping for a vehicle, I’ve ended up sitting in a car dealership for the better part of a day (five hours today), of which stuff happens only a little bit of the time. The salespeople like to make you wait so that you’ll get antsy and agree to the price, so they frequently leave to go to their sales manager’s office — which is apparently in a different hemisphere, requiring an arduous travel schedule — with our offers and counter-offers. Then, when you agree on a price, you end up sitting there while the forms are printed, forms which I estimate started their life as trees on the same day, trees which were chopped down on commission by the salesman, pulped behind the dealership, made into thin sheets of paper, and finally brought to a printer.
If I lost you in that chunky paragraph, here’s the TL;DR version: we ended up sitting in an empty cubicle for hours on end, completely bored. It’s here where technology comes to the rescue.
As much as I try not to be ADD, I really have a hard time doing *nothing*. I spend a good amount of my waking hours connected to the internet and media and gadgets and entertainment, so when you ask me to just sit and not give me something to do (like meetings), I go nuts. My wife left after we agreed on a sales price, so I braved out the remaining few hours with the help of my trusty iPhone.
Seriously, this is when the iPhone transforms from a trusty, helpful gadget to a minor-league superhero. With the internet, movies, Kindle, games, Twitter, blog posts, news and day planner at my fingertips, I could outlast the best of them. You never know when you’re going to suddenly be stranded in a holding pattern with nothing to do — like if you go to the post office and there’s a 30 minute line, or if you go to pick up someone at the airport, someone who told you their flight was coming in at 5:00pm but they didn’t come out the doors until 6:45 (not that that ever happened to me). I feel a little more secure that if any of those occasions pop up, I’ve got a literal library of books in my pocket. It’s really neat, and why I’m probably not resisting the technology revolution as much as my foreboding sense of doom tells me I should.