“You are an idiot!”
“Why in the world did you think this was a good idea?”
“Why did you think you could do this?”
“You are so, so stupid!”
This is only a part of the fabulous conversation I had last night with my worst critic.
Yep, you guessed it. That would be my alter ego- Poor Pitiful Me. I go through this sort of inner dialogue any time I’m faced with a major technological challenge. Now, I know the term “major” will seem outrageous to some of you techno wizard geeks when you hear the rest of my story. You may prepare to laugh raucously while my true friends get out the Kleenex.
This all started at WalMart. I asked the helpful young man in the blue vest a simple question. “Which phone do I need to buy if I’m never, ever going to use it except to dial 911.” He looked at me with an expression that spoke volumes. I will probably be immortalized as the “joke of the day” in the employee lounge. He didn’t even speak, he just pointed. Anyway, I have to give him points for maintaining his composure.
Honestly, I had a cell phone and the regular service a few years ago and it was an absolute waste. I paid $50 a month plus some horrible cancellation fee because after six months I realized I had made two calls! I just don’t talk on the phone that much. I’d rather talk to someone in person if I can. So this time I got one of those cheap, CHEAP pay-as-you-go phones. All I need to do is call Gary if I have a flat; call 911 if I need some sort of serious help. Simple plan.
WRONG! This phone has enough “bells and whistles” to launch a space shuttle. I sat down with the 1” thick manual and knew I was in trouble. That’s why they hide it at the bottom of the box so you can’t possibly see it through the package. They know people like me would freak out right there in the store!
I alternately read instructions and punched buttons for five full minutes before the first outburst of my critical conversation began. Of course nothing worked. I couldn’t program Gary’s work number into the address book. Then when I finally got it right it was on speed dial #101 instead of #1. Still don’t know how to fix that! Couldn’t figure out how to make it vibrate instead of ring. Still can’t figure out how to use caller ID to make sure I don’t accept phone calls I don’t want to pay for…and forget text messaging! Voice mail? International calls?? Who do they think I am?
I stomped around and raged for twenty minutes before I gave up and got ready for bed. My final comments to Gary were, “Well, every redneck brain-dead meth dealer in Southeastern Oklahoma seems to have a cell phone! If I have a flat I’ll just wait for one of them to come along and rescue me!” Pretty childish stuff. Total frustration will do that to you.
I know you are thinking that I’m making this up. But I’ve had the same reaction to every new device I’ve ever owned. Ask my children or my poor husband who has to patiently watch me go through this each time. Anything and everything from a new alarm clock to a computer, from a television remote to a microwave terrifies me until I figure it out. I’ve actually lost sleep over not being able to program the VCR. I blame it all squarely on my father, who expected perfection at an early age and always yelled at me if I didn’t bring him the correct wrench or vice grip or socket for whatever he was attempting to repair. I blame it on years of poverty when anything we bought was precious and therefore if it broke it was a tragedy. A broken television might not be replaced for a year! And I blame it on me. I’m too hard on myself. I expect too much. I know I have trouble with technology and yet I set myself up for failure by attempting to use a new device at 9:00pm when I was exhausted. This weekend I will spend as much time as I need to read and re-read the manual until I get this evil little machine to do what I want it to do. I conquered this computer and I’m not going to let a phone the size of a gnat get the best of me!
Besides, if I really can’t figure it out I’ll do what I always do. I’ll call my son! J