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Confessions of a Non-Techie (Who Appreciates All the Technical Stuff)

I am one of the least handy and technical people you will ever meet. I’m the kind of person who ends up calling a service person for the simplest kind of repair. I can change a light bulb without a problem, but aside from that I’m pretty much clueless when it comes to technology and all the do-it-yourself stuff.

I’ve been told that there are YouTube videos for fixing virtually anything in your home … and I’ve tried to learn how to do various household tasks through these educational videos. However, I usually end up doing something wrong or missing a step – and I end up back at square one, forced once again to call a handyman or another professional.

I am on my computer quite a bit for work and for pleasure, and when something goes wrong, I get frustrated because I generally can’t solve the problem myself.  Thankfully my son Yosef is a whiz at all things computer related and can usually solve my problem with a simple press of a button.

You would think that someone so technically stupid would not appreciate all the wonderful things that technology has allowed us to accomplish, but in fact the opposite is true. I am continually amazed at all the helpful tasks I can accomplish on my phone and my computer.

I can now turn on my computer, and it can automatically log me in by recognizing my face. I don’t know about you, but I appreciate the fact that I no longer must remember my password to log on to my computer or my phone.

I love the fact that my computer and my phone remember my credit card … and that I no longer need to pull out my wallet and punch in a 16-digit number every time I make an online purchase.

My health records – appointments, lab test results, and the like — are now right at my fingertips via an online health portal. I can even send a message to my doctors, and I can get an immediate reply through the portal.

I can’t remember the last time I was in a department store … I do virtually all my shopping online on Amazon and other stores and receive anything I purchase within a day or two.

I’m old enough to remember having to navigate a route using one of those paper maps you would get at gas stations. Of course, Waze has changed all that. For the life of me I cannot understand how GPS technology works, but boy, do I appreciate being able to utilize it!

Banking? I do it all online. I used to have to go to the bank to deposit checks, but now I don’t even need to do that with the advent of mobile deposits. I used to think ATM machines were great because you could deposit or withdraw money at any hour of the day. And I guess they still are great, but the truth is with mobile deposits, Zelle, and a virtually cashless society, I don’t even need to use ATM machines anymore, let alone deal with a teller.

At first, I was a bit worried about conducting so much commerce online, and wondered if I was setting myself up to be hacked or to become the recipient of credit card fraud. I did have one bad experience a couple of years ago where my credit card was used by someone else, but the credit card company immediately notified me once they saw some suspicious charges, cancelled the card, issued me a new card, and reversed all fraudulent charges. Fortunately, it has not happened again.

And once we are talking about credit cards, let me give a shoutout to Capital One, the credit card company I use, for doing everything it can to protect me against fraudulent behavior. I will share two humorous but still important examples of their commitment to their cardmembers.

The first example happened about a dozen years ago. It was a few weeks before Pesach, and my wife Sharon was in Queens doing a massive shopping spree before the holiday. That afternoon I got a phone call from Capital One.

“Mr. Feldstein,” the representative said, “we’d like to check on a purchase that looked suspicious.  There was a charge a few minutes ago for more than $1,100 at a grocery store, which seemed highly unusual to us.”

I laughed … and told the representative that the charge was legitimate.  “Apparently, you are not aware of the price of kosher food, and the volume Jewish consumers purchase before the Passover holiday,” I said.

It was indeed a humorous episode, but truth be told, I was deeply appreciative of the credit card company flagging this charge on my behalf.

The second episode happened a couple of years ago at a local kosher restaurant. My wife and I had a $100 gift certificate that could be redeemed at the establishment.  We rang up a bill of $120, used the gift certificate to pay for most of the cost of our dinner, charged the balance of $20 to our credit card, and added a $20 tip to be charged to the card as well.

Well, the Capital One folks flagged this charge. They thought it was unusual for me to apply a $20 tip to a $20 charge and were concerned that I had made a mistake!  They alerted me to this immediately.

Of course, there was no mistake made – Capital One was simply unaware of the gift certificate I used for most of the purchase — but I did appreciate the fact that Capital One had built this feature into their platform.

I am still very dumb when it comes to knowing how all of this whiz-bang technology works. But I am grateful and appreciative that we live at a time when technology has made our lives so much easier.

About the Author
Michael Feldstein, who lives in Stamford, CT, is the author of "Meet Me in the Middle," a collection of essays on contemporary Jewish life. His articles and letters have appeared in The Jewish Link, The Jewish Week, The Forward, and The Jewish Press. He can be reached at michaelgfeldstein@gmail.com
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