You see them in their cars, heads down, phones in their laps while they wait 15 seconds for the traffic light to change.
Or playing video games instead of studying.
Or surfing from one website to another to see if anything new has happened in the last few minutes.
Or checking social media several times each hour to see if any of their friends had something interesting for lunch.
It really is laughable. Until you discover you have the same affliction. At least a little.
My discovery came last week.
The trigger was an icon showing an exclamation point in the middle of a yellow triangle. The warning sign appeared on my computer screen next to an image of the computer itself. It meant that something important was not working on my computer.
So I did what 21st century people do when they encounter situations like this: I turned to the Internet to learn how to fix it.
I mean, I tried to turn to the Internet.
That’s where I found another yellow triangle with an exclamation point in the middle of it.
This one meant that I had no Internet connection.
Wi-fi was working with a booming five-bar signal. But my computer couldn’t connect to the Internet.
As I write this, the two yellow signs with their cursed exclamation points are still there.
And I am at this moment on hold with Microsoft Windows Support. I have been on hold for just under half an hour. Today.
Yesterday I was on the line with an actual person — Catherine Gonzalez — for one hour and 55 minutes (although when I am complaining like this I usually just call it two hours).
Catherine told me she had exhausted her knowledge of my situation, having taken control of my computer from her office somewhere in North America, scrolling, selecting, clicking and re-booting deftly but ineffectively for most of those two hours.
She said I would have to be helped by a Level 2 specialist from the Microsoft Windows Support Team. That Level 2 miracle worker would be calling me at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
He or she never called, of course. So I got on the line again, waited that half hour on hold before a heavily accented man — who actually asked me if I could spell my three letter first name for him — looked up my case number and told me — wait for it — that I needed a Level 2 specialist.
When the required Level 2 person finally came on the line, he said he couldn’t help me until I had an Internet connection.
So Thursday a guy from Spectrum came out and told me half the coaxial cables in my home were not heavy gauge enough to assure reliable Internet connections. He got the Internet going again but forecasted future failures until I do some serious re-wiring.
Wednesday I was kind of angry, watching someone fiddle with my computer for two hours to no avail.
By Thursday, I was getting a little panicky. What if the Level 2 person couldn’t fix it either? What if my computer keeps having problems connecting to the Internet? Things are happening in the world and I have only two or three other ways to learn about them.
For that matter, the way that this story gets from my computer screen to your eyes is by email. No Internet, no email. No email, no column.
It’s happened. I am the silly technology victim I have made fun of so many times in the past.
The good news is that if you are reading this, things must be working again. Temporarily, at least.
If so, know that one of the first things I did was check to see if you had anything interesting for lunch Friday.
Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at jimbusek@ hotmail.com.