Did you ever…?
Did you ever think about all the amazing things a computer can do? I was finally talked into buying a computer when everyone promised me that it would simplify my life, help me to manage the household budget, balance my chequebook, keep an accurate and updated inventory of my possessions, and a multitude of other miraculous things.
I brought the computer home and couldn’t wait to hook it up and begin to simplify my life. My big downfall came when I tried to make sense of the instruction booklet. It was obviously written by an inmate in an institution for the criminally insane, who had found a way to get even with the human race. No matter how many times I connected the cables and wires, every time I turned it on, it let out several long and high-pitched shrieks, some of which were only heard by a team of Alaskan sled dogs at the North Pole.
The instruction booklet informed me that even a ten-year-old child could follow the easy directions. I didn’t know any ten-year-old children, so, in desperation, I called my neighbour Bing and asked if he could help. He had it all connected and hooked-up within a matter of minutes. I still haven’t forgiven him for that, but I was pleased when he tripped over a cable I left on the floor, fell against the edge of the door and chipped a tooth.
I began typing, but nothing appeared on the screen. When I told Bing that the computer didn’t work, he let out a sigh of exasperation, reached over and turned it on. The screen lit up and announced that I had to select a password. After the computer rejected every password I tried, it finally accepted the only word I could think of at that time. That word was “help”. A menu appeared and Bing said I had to select a program. I told him I didn’t want to watch TV; I wanted to work on the computer. He patiently explained what that meant and then he suggested that I take a night school course at the local high school.
I took Bing’s advice and signed up for the beginner’s course. I was the only student in the class over eight years old and who didn’t need a booster seat to reach the keyboard.
The teacher asked if this was my first time using a computer. I told him I had used it a few times to prop open the door whilst I moved some furniture around. He totally ignored me for the remainder of the six-week course. The only time he spoke to me again was to recommend that I drop the course and get a private tutor. Once again, I turned to Bing and begged for his help. He reluctantly agreed. When our first session began, he told me I had a very good computer with a lot of memory. I asked him if the computer remembered how to turn itself on because I had forgotten. That was the first time I ever saw Bing cry.
After a few weeks, I had limited working knowledge and when I finally learned how to balance my chequebook, I discovered that the bank had been right all along.
Bing showed me how to use the “help function” and then he told me that his family would not allow him to come here anymore. My sister said she was surprised that my computer hadn’t “crashed” yet. When I told her it was very safely placed on the desk and couldn’t possibly fall off, she hung up on me.
Maybe someday I will really learn how to use the computer and it will not get so angry with me and refuse to answer me when I use the “help function”.
“Did you ever…?” is a weekly newspaper column by Melech.
©Copyright 2009 by Melech. All rights reserved
The next column will be posted on November 16, 2009