One thing the baby boomer generation never counted on was being confused about most things. Why is my smartphone refusing to ring? What is Netflix and why won't my television pick it up on the aerial? Who is TikTok?

Little did we know as we watched the moon landing in 1969, feeling grateful and a little bit smug to be part of such a developed race, that years later that very race would mean that we could barely keep up.

When we got our first car you needed to pull out the choke to start it. When we bought our first house… well, we could buy a first house. When we got our first phone line, it was actually a line that went into your house from the pole outside and your phone was literally attached to the wall with said line.


But here we are. Waking each day to a world which is not the same as it was the day before and don't our children and call centre workers know it.

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I recently had to help an 87-year-old man - part of the last generation not to be given a cool brand name - understand why his online shopping experience had gone wrong.

He had mistakenly paid for his online purchase twice, as you do. He emailed the seller with copies of both his online receipts and expected a prompt refund for one of those payments.

To his dismay, the seller emailed back to say that when the extra payment showed up in his bank account he would repay him.

"That's just not on," he said to me. "His clerk would have entered that payment when it came in and he would be able to see it."

He genuinely thought that the online seller had a shop where a clerk, no doubt with a green eyeshade and a well-sharpened pencil sat at his desk and neatly entered every sale into a ledger and marked a tick beside it when a payment was made.

I explained that online sellers were usually one person with a computer at their kitchen table and a garage full of stock, not someone in a shop with a bell over the door with an open sign, a cash register, a cat on the counter and a friendly hello.


I could tell he didn't believe me, not for one minute.

Because along with being old is the right to know better and the right to get really grumpy and abusive if you don't fix it, right now!

I recently ordered some flowers online and, due to an inability on my part to spot the box where you specify the delivery date, had a very pleasant email back and forth with the florist about where it was and why I didn't see it and never mind she would deliver on the date I asked her to and have a nice day and it really was no problem at all. I took up 10 minutes of her day, which she didn't need to give me.

Every morning people like my florist open up their computers knowing that they are unlikely to get to the end of the day without having to deal with an old person, usually on a landline, their preferred method of communication. At least, if they can't find a stamp.

Spare a thought for the bank call-centre assistant who is faced with the lost password crisis and the fact that "you have blocked me out of my own bank account! This would never have happened in the old days." In the old days, you physically turned up at your bank and handed over your driver's licence.

Spare another thought for the many health service workers who patiently explain that you must not take this pill with that or help you understand that if you don't drink enough fluids your brain will stop working properly. Old people just don't understand about drinking water. Cups of tea yes, water no.

And the travel agent and airline staff who deal with forgotten passports, forgotten flights and misread hotel check-in times.

The internet provider staff who must explain that Wi-Fi stands for wireless, not why the f*** won't it work!

The computer support staff who, once they have told the old person to turn it off and on again, will undoubtedly be told that the old person has fixed it for themselves before hanging up without a thank you.

One thing the baby boomer generation should spend some time thinking about is thanking the small army of people who are employed specifically to help them survive.

Thank you for your patience.