Sunday, January 30, 2011
OLD DOGS AND NEW TRICKS
In the last year Jerry and I have had to make a major adjustment in our married life. This change has come about because he was elected to a position in one of the local organizations he belonged to and he quickly needed to become computer literate, which he definitely was not. And I needed to teach him what he needed to know.
Except for being able to check his e-mail and use Quicken to keep track of our bank account, he really hadn’t a clue as to how to produce a document, or a file, or a chart. He had never taken a typing class, and as far as he knew, his left hand was supposed to hold down the “Shift” key to get a capital letter and his right hand – or right forefinger, more explicitly – was supposed to produce the words. His WPM was probably off the chart on the low end.
But he was game to learn. Both of us thought what he had to do was do-able, but he really hadn’t reckoned on all the “Save As…”,.pdf and .docx. He didn’t know simple things like how to get additional space between paragraphs or centering headings, or pagination….but he knew I knew how and would help him. Compounding the problem for him was that many of the younger men in the organization liked to show off either their expertise or their chutzpah by manipulating the reports they sent in to him with some fancy stuff, like a background logo or complicated headers or footers that I had to deal with before Jerry could tackle them.
He did well, and finally came to enjoy being at least semi-literate on the computer.
However, as you know, the computer can be very frustrating at times, and when Jerry was doing his group’s work, he often had to call me to come bail him out. For the most part he wrote down what I told him, but when everything is new, sometimes it is simply easier to call for help. Nevertheless, you all know it is quite common to talk to the computer when it does its little “things,” so many times I thought he was asking for help and I ran to help him, but he was just scolding the computer. Normally Jerry does not cuss when he is frustrated, but if I ever heard the word “C - - p” emanating from the computer room, I knew he needed my help badly.
I worked in the same company he did before we married, and I admit at times I heard him cuss like a longshoreman. When we married I figured there wouldn’t be any surprises, but there were: he did not cuss at home. I was shocked. He literally left that part of his Modus Operandi at work and brought the nice part home. And that was why I was so surprised when at the height of his frustration with the computer he only used the relatively benign word “C - - P”
His special time on the computer was in the morning before I got up. Sometimes if I stayed in bed a little longer than usual, I could hear the “C” word make its way from the computer room to the bedroom, sliding under the door and into my ear, which was still lopping around on my pillow. It was a wake-up call to me and I always hustled in to lend a hand. It made me laugh, because it was so un-Jerry like.
His term of office is up the end of this month. I really think he enjoyed the work more than he let on. At 81 he’s not apt to take on any more responsibilities of an elected office, especially any that require heavy computer work. But this last year has been good for him. He’s proven he is an old dog that has learned new tricks. And that makes me smile.