Saturday, December 9

The Other Guy l Technology takes a bath | Columnists

With the Candidate Forum firmly in the rearview mirror, the beginning of school rapidly approaching and the Primary Election right around the corner, the kids and I knew a brief getaway was in order.

In typical Bryan family fashion, we took a jet-setting mini-vacation to Orlando. It wasn’t really jet-setting since it was a last-minute decision and we went by car.

In today’s tech-savvy society, planning and executing a last-minute trip is a lot easier than it was when I was a child. Mini-getaways took months of planning for my parents.

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Now, it’s just a matter of downloading the right apps, using your debit or credit card to book a hotel.

With built-in GPS system, navigating the backroads to avoid using Interstate 4 was a blessing in disguise, especially if you’ve ever traversed the heavily used thoroughfare.

And with our passes to Aquatic and SeaWorld on my phone, we were all set for a few days of fun in the sun. Even the weather forecast on the weather app was in our favor.

Not much could go wrong, right?


After spending most of the first day at the water park, we left sun-kissed and waterlogged.

Exhausted, we opted to check in to the hotel before grabbing a quick, late lunch.

Moments after walking in the restaurant, Mother Nature decided “quick” wouldn’t be an option.

The skies opened up and didn’t relent for 90 minutes. So much for a “quick” lunch.

I thought we would need a pair of kayaks and lightning rods to make our way to our vehicle.

Once we could make our way to our car, we opted to find indoor entertainment. We didn’t want to risk being caught outside if the skies opened again.

I made sure to check the weather forecast on Day 2 as we made the trek to SeaWorld, where a couple of rides and a show were on the kids “to-do” lists, which included a water ride and a roller coaster that even “he who shall not be named” had agreed to ride.

With the temperature already soaring by 10 a.m., the kids made the executive decision to ride “Infinity Falls” first.

Watching folks exit, we knew we’d get wet. The oldest pawned his phone off on me; it’ll be safer with me, he said.

“What about your wallet and phone?” he asked.

“They’ll be fine,” I said matter- of-factly.

Did I say we’d get wet?

We got drenched, from head to toe.

There are many things in life I don’t enjoy, wet socks being one of them.

We “squished” our way through the park for the next few hours before calling it a day to retreat to the hotel for fresh, dry clothes and lunch.

And that’s when I learned my wallet, but more importantly, my debit card, wasn’t as safe as I had assumed.

That neat, tiny little chip in the card isn’t immune to water, even safely tucked inside a wallet.

It was a hit-and-miss situation the few spots we went and I attempted to use it.

Now, here’s the secret: If you try to use it three times, unsuccessfully, the bank puts a temporary hold on it and the bank calls.

We – the bank and I – have a close relationship now. No less than three calls came in, alerting me to fraudulent activity. Thankfully, we had a stash of travel cash on hand, in case of an emergency.

“Dad,” the oldest said after the card failed a third time, “maybe it’s time for a new debit card.”

On our way home, we stopped by the bank, so I could obtain a new card. “Did you lose it or was there fraudulent activity that on it?” the branch manager inquired.

I chuckled, before explaining the story.

“Technology decided to take a bath,” I surmised as the manager tried to stifle their laughter.

Despite the technical glitch, the children and I arrived home safely, with plenty of new memories and a valuable lesson: Dad should leave his wallet in the car.

Jeff Bryan is the executive editor of the Chronicle. Email him at

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