by Raelene Gorlinsky
I don't really want to go around smashing textile looms or laptop computers. I don't reject or resist new technology. (Don't listen to Kelli or Meghan! It's not true!) But the hardware and software are not toys to me, they are just tools to accomplish tasks--technology is not an end it itself, it is merely something I need to do my real job. And it's always difficult when the tools change, it temporarily slows down my ability to get the real job done. You need to feed me changes slowly, give me time to learn and adjust without being overwhelmed or unable to get things done. I'm of the generation that did not grow up with computers (yes, I am indeed old enough to be Kelli's, Meghan's, and Jaime's mother, sigh), that wants to read the user manual first (they don't even provide manuals anymore!), that doesn't start just pushing buttons or clicking on things--I might break it!
(And it isn't just high-tech stuff that gives me trouble. After the stapler debacle--don't ask--I wasn't allowed to order an electronic pencil sharpener. Patty gave me a little red plastic manual sharpener, the kind you had in grade school. It works great, it's lasted me four years.)
So last Wednesday was off the charts in terms of stress level. It started with a new laptop. It's a lovely laptop--wide screen, number pad, more ports. But of course I have to adjust to a slightly different "feel" to the key spacing; it took two days before I could type a paragraph not filled with typos. And who the ha-ell decided to move the Delete key?!
Of course, this laptop has a newer Windows operating system and newer Microsoft Office software. Aack! Why did they change and move everything? Shortcuts, options, menus, all the stuff I'd customized to be just the way I wanted it -- I have to redo it all. And I can't even find it in order to change it! I went through a bag of malt balls, a brownie, and two chocolate chip cookies between 10 am and 5 pm. (Don't believe that nonsense that fruit or yogurt will make you feel better--only chocolate works.)
I'll learn it all, but I can't cope with everything at once. Thursday I focused on Microsoft Outlook, so I could do email. Friday I tore my hair out over Excel. (Note to Microsoft - the new way the Sort and Filter works is a pain in the ass. Why didn't you ask me first, I'd have told you how to do it right.) This week I'm fighting through Word. Coworkers have learned to ignore the shrieks and curses coming from my office.
And then there's trying to figure out what other software I had installed on the old system, and reinstalling it on the new one. (Actually, Randy does that--experience has shown it's not wise to let me try to install software. Did you know a PC can have a nervous breakdown?) It took three days to realize I couldn't get onto the company email or server from home because I was missing the appropriate program.
By 4 pm Wednesday I was trying hard not to hyperventilate or throw the new laptop across the room. Then the day crashed into final deadly overload. Darrell showed up in my office--with a brand-new cell phone! Everyone seemed under the truly false impression that I would be delighted to change from an old phone-that-only-makes-phone-calls to this monster that seems to do everything else except make a simple phone call. Kelli was drooling, "They got you an iPhone 4!" Darrell and Randy wanted to demonstrate everything. I just wanted to turn it off, except I couldn't find the Off button.
By the time I got home Wednesday, I think my eyes were vibrating and my body quivering. I walked in the door and blurted "I got a new laptop and cell phone" to my son. He looked warily at me, did not ask to see the laptop, and gently removed the cell phone from my clenched hand. When he returned the phone ten minutes later, he'd turned off WiFi and email, set it to a gentle ringtone, and found how to make the virtual keyboard larger--he knows me well, he simplified the thing so I can cope with the basics now. Of course, there was a setback later that night. The phone rang for the very first time. I whipped it out of my pocket, stared at it, then shrieked "How the hell do I answer the phone?" Hey, I didn't have my reading glasses on at the moment, without them the screen is just a blur. I sure didn't know there was a bar at the bottom I was supposed to slide to answer.
Kelli is now allowed to show me one new function a day on the cell. So far, I can check the local weather (after she changed it from Cupertino to Akron for me), find out what time it is in London or Australia (yes, Kelli set it up for me), and make a call via my Contacts list (I put in the Contacts, I didn't know Kelli was adding pictures for them). I haven't had to do text messaging yet, that's next. I might actually get brave enough to have her show me how to get driving directions.
Oh, there was one last "technology" debacle on Wednesday. There was a very expensive case provided with the phone, and it was stressed to me that these cell phone screens shattered easily if dropped, so I must put the protective case on. But I couldn't get the case open in order to put the cell phone in it! I struggled and struggled. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have to go to the IT support guy and ask him to show you how to open a cell phone case?