Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Help Desk

H is for The Help Desk

Yesterday hubs and I had a form we needed to complete together. The form had been sent to us online in the shape of a google doc. Or excel spreadsheet. Or some blahbiddy blah blah blah.

And so it began.

Hubs has never really spent any time on our home computer. He's always had a laptop for work so any computing he needs to do has been done there. When he retired he had to hand over the laptop, which was maybe the first real thing we hadn't considered in our 'planning for retirement' scheme.

He does have an iPad, but some tasks are difficult to accomplish on an iPad while they're a piece of cake on a regular desktop computer.

Unless you're married to me.

I have other good qualities though.

Hubs has never had any interest in hopping on the home email account at the end of a work day, and really there was no reason for him to do that. He trusted me to pass along any messages that needed passing, and I'm a master at the forwarding of emails, so not a total failure when it comes to technology.

Periodically through the years he's sent me something via email with instructions to 'save this to the house file' or 'the retirement file' or the 'travel' file. Um. OK. I have folders in my email with those headings so when he'd send me something I'd move it to the appropriate folder and forget about it. Every now and then he'd ask for something he sent and I'd retrieve it, usually from email.

Easy peasy.

So now hubs is retired with no laptop just yet, and yesterday we had that darn form to complete online. He pulled up a chair beside me and I proceeded to download the form. It wouldn't open. So he told me to save it as_______ and I did and then he told me to put it in my house file which I did, only he said I needed a house file on my hard drive and where were all those docs he'd been sending me anyway?

One thing always leads to another on the computer, doesn't it?

Where's the house file?

Right here. In my email.

No not the emails, where are the documents you've downloaded that were attached to the emails. You need to have docs saved somewhere on the hard drive or a thumb drive. You've download the attachments and saved them, right?

Um...sometimes. And sometimes I leave them attached to the email and figure I'll worry about that later.

Deep breaths and a little hand wringing and a bit of pacing around the room.

Wait-wait-wait...I do have mostly everything downloaded. Let me just open Word and I'll show you.

Word's not a filing system he says! Excel is not a filing system he says! 

I know that I say. But just let me open Word and get to My Documents.

Wait, you have something called My Documents? So you do have a file separate from your email?

He hovers and gulps air while I open My Documents and files appear.
There are four.

Also about 100 loose docs just hanging out there in the near vicinity of a file.

You have four files? 

Well, there's four of us, so yeah basically that's what I've got.

He was not impressed with my filing system.

Insert more deep breathing and hand wringing and also some vigorous shaking of the head.

But he kissed my forehead anyway, I think because I'm a little bit pathetic. 

As all of this played out it occurred to me that I'm the only member of my family who has never had any sort of computer instruction at all. Everything I know about the computer I've figured out on my own. Granted it's not a lot, and many things I'm likely doing in ten steps that could be done in two, i.e-that whole filing thing I had going on but still, I manage.

Remember when technology wasn't?

I mean I know there's always been technology of one sort or another, and it's always been on a fast track forward, but gosh there are days I miss my color coded manila file folders in the metal cabinet and a typewriter whose biggest aggravation involved carbon paper and an inky black tape that needed changing.

Doesn't all change make us think wistfully about what we left behind, until we fully embrace the new?

Once you've passed the '50 mile mark' you discover your brain doesn't work quite the way you always counted on it to work. At least mine doesn't. Neither does my hair, my teeth, or my eyes all of which require more attention now than in years past.

Learning something new that's not really new and I'm the last one to get on board, feels like exercising my brain. I like the sense of accomplishment I feel when I figure something out on my fancy phone or my temperamental computer even if my daughters have to show me the same trick or shortcut umpteen times in order for it to sink in.

The world is moving and changing in a thousand ways a million times a day. I know some argue that technology is removing all the personal from our interactions, and I guess in a lot of ways that's true. I also know without it I wouldn't see my daughters faces while we talk with hundreds, even thousands of miles of geography between us.

I'm thinking if I keep up, one day they'll be a hologram in my living room instead of on the other end of a Facetime call. Or someone will have figured out how to beam me there, or them here. And as wild and impossible as that sounds remember thirty years ago we couldn't begin to imagine walking around with a phone turned computer in our pocket. We barely knew what a computer was and phones were still attached to walls.

But here's the thing...someone did imagine it because here we are, walking around with computers in our pockets and in the form of wrist watches and all manner of crazy. I'll keep plugging away on my desktop and my iPad and my phone, and when that kid who's now nine comes up with a better way for me to have face time with my girls in the year 2045 I'll be ready.

"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the the joy and glory of the climb.'~Winston Churchill


  1. I can 100% totally relate to this whole post. Right down to the Hubby hovering and gluping....
    Also, I'll ask Miss K.A. where and what your young people should do while in the Rose City. I'm thinking she'd have a better idea since she's in that age bracket. ;)

  2. Sounds like the same conversation I might be having with my hubby who is less adept at the computer...and when it doesn't work right, he is beside himself.

  3. Oh, my goodness, Hubby was just getting me to retrieve some financial stuff this morning off of the desktop and he gets so frustrated if I'm not readily available to do it for him. He doesn't understand my filing system. :o)) It gives me the "hibby jibbies" for him to hover over me but sometimes it has to be that way.

    It is so unbelievable to think of where we may be in another 30 years. My Grans have been working an IPad like a pro since before they were 3 years old. Insane!

    Great and enjoyable post!!!!

  4. Well, with both of us being accountants, and having 3-4 computers in the house, this has not been a problem for us. I do appreciate your post and find myself often thinking back to when we did not have technology like we do today. My goodness, how did we survive? I also love your vision of a hologram someday appearing instead of using!

  5. Sounds like a scene from my house... great post.

  6. I cannot relate to a shared computer since my husband and I have Always had our separate computers. Then again, I can definitely relate to the husband sighing about my umpteenth computer stupidity which he can then fix.

  7. "Remember when technology wasn't"

    This made me laugh out loud! I feel the same way at school when the things we used to submit on paper are now submitted electronically. Ugh!!

    Take care ~Natalie

  8. I too am amazed and yet enjoy the fact that I can speak to people half a world away.

  9. oh the joy of manila folders. still not got an ipad and my phone is 8 years old....

  10. Ha! I can totally relate to this post :)

  11. I'm pretty good with managing my files. Sure I don't do things like Mark may do them but I do know my system for now. Can't say what I will remember 10 years from now! I am in awe of all the changes that have taken place over the last 40 years. I do enjoy many of them. I remember the days when I had 3 VCR machines taping things! I'm also trying to buy less DVD's and books but I'm not crazy about the streaming of things. I like to hold things in my hand.