CONVERSATIONS. Ralph the Tech Kid talks 15 inches and $3 million

One of my favourite things is getting sucked into conversations with kids at Starbucks, especially the kids who are retired and there to people-watch and talk. 

I had my earbuds in, veering between Andrew W.K. and First Aid Kit while I finished up a little work, and intentionally kept the volume high so I wouldn’t get distracted and sucked into conversation by the two mid-70ish kids next to me. I am good at getting sucked into conversation in those situations and environments. I could tell they were characters with good stories.

I finished up at the same time one of them got up to head to the bathroom. As I closed my MacBook Pro, I could feel the remaining one’s eyes and attention on me.

That’s a big one you got. 
he said.
What size? 

I said.

Fifteen inches? 
he asked, clearing his throat. 

I said, glancing down at my laptop. 
Yeah. I think so. Fifteen.

he said, nodding. 
That’s what I thought. What year? 

I said. 

I switched over to Mac four years ago.
he said.
I’ve got one with an SSD - you know, a solid state drive - and I’m telling you: these computers work. They just work. 2011, huh?

I said.
I swapped out the optical drive for an SSD a while back, added some memory, and it’s still running great seven-plus years on.

Can’t do that with the new ones,
he adjusted his glasses authoritatively. 
New ones are soldered. Learned that in my Mac class I go to every week. 

It’s a big jump to make, from a PC to a Mac,
I said.
Good for you! 

It’s a good thing.
he said, pivoting to the next topic.  
You from Washougal?

Sure am.
I said.

He nodded. 
Moved here in ‘95 from Palo Alto. Sold our house for $420,000. Looked it up on Zillow - you know what Zillow is?

The online real estate company?
I asked.

You can look up real estate prices on Zillow, 
he said, confirming my suspicions. 
Know what my old place is going for now? 

I do not know.
I said truthfully. 

Three million.
He said derisively. 
Three million. And it’s a tear-down. Know what a U-Haul costs to move from California to Arizona?

I do not know.
I said truthfully.

Eighteen hundred dollars. 
he said.
Know what what a U-Haul costs to move from Arizona to California?

I am not completely certain.
I said truthfully. 

One hundred and ten dollars. 
he said.
Know why? Because people can’t afford to live in California anymore so they’re moving out of the state. Everybody’s leaving for other states. 

I said.
If Elon Musk gets one of his hyperloops set up in the area, then maybe that’ll take some pressure off the commute and cost of living. 

he said, as his friend re-appeared and sat down. 
We’ll see. 

His friend looked at him, then over at me.

What size?
he asked.
Is that a 15?

Sure is.
I said confidently. 

That’s what I thought.
he said, and turned to his friend.
We should get going. 

Nice chatting,
I said.

They nodded, we shook hands,
and they headed out the door to do important things, and play with their machines. I do not know what size. 


*thanks Jonny Long