Last week, we soon discovered that our make-do wi-fi network at home just wasn’t good enough for the now near-permanent online activities of three kids and two professionals working from home. This necessitated a quick trip to a large media store on the edge of town last Saturday.

Upon my arrival I had to follow a path through crush barriers. The pathway was marked with 1.5×1.5 meter squares, so as to guarantee safe social distancing for those in line. There was no line to speak of. Before I knew it, I had entered a large hall filled with consumer technology. Two members of security behind a counter politely greeted me and reminded me that social distancing regulations applied.

We have an old house with really thick walls – so thick in fact that modern data transmission simply isn’t allowed through. I had read up enough about this to make the safe assumption that I needed three powerful ‘repeaters’ for my wi-fi signal. So, when I reached an isle with almost 20 meters of choice-gadgets, I picked up three of these signal strengtheners – of course the same brand as our router at home. Then made a quick dash for the cash register.

A shop assistant approached me and took an expert look at the boxes under my arm. He stepped up to me, studied my face and said, “big house?”  He was too close to me. This was not one-and-a-half meters, this was less than one.

“Shall we keep our distance?,” I asked.

“Yes, fine,” he said, and stepped back. “Old house, thick walls?” I nodded, which he seemed to take as a permission to come closer again.

I have always had a problem with people who stand too close to me. In these last few weeks, this feeling has been even stronger. This time, I took several steps back. Finally it seemed that the message hit home – he took a step back.

“You don’t need these,” he said, “ you need one of these.” He pointed at a really big, blueish-green box to his left. On the box I saw a picture of the same kind of white, wi-fi points that I recall seeing in modern office buildings. The box instilled an instant feeling of quality and trust. This definitely looked better than the brand I had at home.

“They are expensive though,” the shop assistant said, “is that a problem?”

The price wasn’t the problem, but I wanted their guarantee that this new system would be compatible with my router at home. Again, my choices fell short of what was clearly recommendable. “If I were you,” he said, whilst stepping in closer again… “if I were you, I would start all over again.”

This time I strategically positioned myself behind a demonstration table in the middle of the aisle. I insisted that I would most certainly not do that. I made the point that if my well-regarded internet provider – which I have been with for over 25 years – thinks that my router is good enough, then it was good enough for me too.

And then, somewhat to my surprise, the shop assistant agreed with me. “The system will combine well with your router,” he said. He abruptly turned around and walked away.

I walked to the cash register and bought the product.

The wi-fi is fantastic.

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