How to Go Internet Router Shopping

Have you ever read the headline “Grandma Drives Pick-up Truck INTO Electronics Store”?

I came close to making that headline. I went to Toon Town on Wednesday to run a few errands. The Car Guy was using our Daily Driver, so I took the back-up vehicle, a “plow through snow drifts” Dodge Dakota 4X4 pick-up truck with a Magnaflow high performance exhaust system. I love driving it – makes me feel very tall and I like the rumbly sound it makes.

One of my stops was the local Electonics store. You know, the people who sell everything from crayons to computers. I wanted a new wireless router. The router aisle had a bewildering variety of products to choose from. I wondered what to buy, and I wondered how long it would take for a sales associate (SA) to come and help me. After many minutes, I began to wonder if I had become Invisible again. It always happens when I least want it to. If I want to be left alone in a book store, SA descend upon me. If I want help in an electronics store,  I am invisible. I’ve described this before, so it is not a new phenomenon to me.

Eventually, like a tiger stalking prey, I identified my target SA, who nimbly sprinted past the router aisle in order to attend to new customers as they walked in the door. After about ten minutes, I finally caught him. I dragged him back to routers, a place where I was now quite comfortable, having read most of the literature on  the router boxes.

Dallying with him, I opened with “I want a router that won’t interfere with my wireless music system. It has to be able to plug into the desk top computer, and be wireless for my laptop.”

He looked relieved. “You want a Simultaneous Dual Band router, then.” He pointed to the most expensive box on the shelf and tried to depart.

“Really,” I said. “Why would that be? Wouldn’t I need a Selectable Dual Band so that I could, well, pick a band that doesn’t interfere with the music?” At least, that was my interpretation of the difference in meaning between simultaneous and selectable.

He nodded, and tried to leave. I continued, “I want to be able to use a wireless printer. Will the Selectable Dual Band product do that?”

His answer was, “Sure.” And he tried to leave again. Let me stop here, and explain to you what the word “Sure” means in our family. When one of my children looks me straight in the eye and says “Sure, Mom” it really means “I’m saying yes because that is the answer I know you want to hear.”

With one “sure” under my belt, I moved in for the kill. “Are routers any easier to set up than they used to be, or do I still have to try to answer a bunch of unfathomable questions before I get the thing working?”

At this point, the SA was joined by another SA who had come in, I believe, to rescue him. They both mumbled something that confirmed my suspicion that both of them were more comfortable in the crayon department. In fairness, I expect SA at Staples don’t know much about setting up a router, which is why they offer a service that does just that. For $40C, a person who knows all about routers will set it up for you so that “Works right out of the box” actually does that.

Which brings me back to the headline about driving the pick-up truck into the Electronics store. That was exactly what I thought about doing as I got into my rumbly Dodge truck. I could see myself gunning the Dakota down the router aisle, yelling “Can you see me now?” The store had, apparently, experienced other grey haired grandmas in pick-up trucks before. They have installed security bollards in front of the doors…