I don’t think of myself as ancient. Yes, I am at an age where I either forget, deny, or deduct ten years when mentioning how old I am, but in my head, I’m still clinging to the last remnants of my youth. But when it comes to technology, I admit, I’m often befuddled. As soon as I somewhat master (yes, I’m using that term loosely) one thing, a new version comes out and once again, I’m lost.
One example is updates. I’ve decided not to do them anymore. A few months ago, I started getting daily popups insisting that I update my laptop. I kept hitting the option to delay the update for another 24 hours, and then ignored it for about a month. Finally, I thought, gee, I guess I should do the update already since I didn’t have anything urgent to do on the computer that night – or ever, actually. I figured it would take about an hour. Four hours later, the only thing scrolling across the screen were words saying they were sorry it was taking so long, an unexpected problem had occurred, and I needed to be patient. Within an hour, the screen went completely black and I could no longer see anything on my computer. For the next few days, I tried and tried to revive my computer – I could get the sign-in screen, but then, nothing. So I finally brought my computer to a repair place. They said I’d have it back in two days. I asked them if while they were at it, could they get rid of Windows 10 which I despise, and bring it back to Windows 7, which I liked very much. So I’m sure that was part of the reason it took five days instead of two. While I was thankful they got it up and running, it really wasn’t the same. And within a few weeks, the screen started jumping around and flashing, so I brought it back. The repair guy told me it was probably the screen, but I realized that to fix it was way too expensive for an older computer. He suggested just getting an external monitor, which stopped the problem at the repair shop. So I did, and it didn’t work at home (surprise!), so I ended up deciding to just get a new computer. Of course computers have so many bells and whistles now, I knew I’d never figure them out. I don’t need a touchscreen, I don’t need a stylus, I don’t need anything beyond the basics. Which also brought the price way down. Several weeks in, so far, so good, but I still need to get everything from the old computer onto the new one – I think another trip to the computer repair shop is inevitably in my future.
Next example. I went to a conference out of state recently. It was almost a six-hour drive, and I was so relieved to finally get there – what did we do before Google Maps? I was so exhausted when I finally got to the hotel, I just wanted to collapse in my room – after racing to the restroom, of course! Now, I’ve been to hotels many times that have key cards, so this shouldn’t have been a problem. I found my room, and eagerly swiped my card down. Nothing. Hmm. I swiped my card up. Nothing. I swiped it up and down multiple times. Nothing. I tried pushing the card into a nonexistent slot. Nothing. I repeated everything I had already tried. Nope. There was an arrow facing down on the front of the card, and I kept muttering at the card that I was following directions, but it refused to cooperate. Finally, I caved – I admitted to the Universe that I could not do a simple thing such as open my door. I started heading to the elevator, fighting back tears of frustration, when a fellow hotel guest magically appeared by the elevator.
“Please,” I said pitifully, “can you please tell me how to unlock the door to the room?”
She nodded her head in understanding and sympathy. “I know, right? You’d think the arrow on the room key meant to swipe down on that side. But you have to flip the card around, even though it doesn’t make sense.”
I thanked her profusely as I raced back to my room. Sure enough, after flipping the card, I had entry to my room! Huzzah!
Later that night, I returned to my room, entered without problem, and sat down to watch some TV. I turned the TV on, and it was on a Spanish station. I tried changing the channel. Nothing. I looked at the channel guide and tried again. Nothing. This went on for at least ten minutes and I turned the TV off. Then I tried again. Somehow, magically, the channel finally changed. Eventually, I had it somewhat figured out, meaning I just stuck with the same channel for the rest of the weekend.
The end of the conference was the day we fell back – timewise. And don’t get me started on why we can’t just stay year-round on Daylight Saving Time. Since I had a lengthy drive home, I didn’t want to spend most of my drive in the dark, so I wanted to have my car ready to go after the last seminar. So I grabbed my suitcase and hurried out to my car so I’d be ready to go and beat the mass exodus out of the hotel. I went back up to the room to relax for a few minutes before it was time for the class. I swiped my key card, as I had done so expertly all weekend. Nothing. What the heck? I tried again. Nothing. Then I saw one of the guys who was also attending the seminar, storming down the hall. He said his key card wasn’t working either. As we headed to the elevator, I was relieved it wasn’t just me this time. I mentioned something about the time change and his face lit up – he realized that we were being locked out of our rooms due to the change in time. While we were on the new time, the computers were somehow still set on the old time, meaning we should have checked out already. At the front desk, they supposedly fixed my card so it would let me into my room. It didn’t, but that all eventually got straightened out after more frustration.
Thankfully, Google Maps once again got me home without any major issues. But honestly, when I can’t even open a door or change the channel on the TV without feeling like a hopeless incompetent, maybe time is changing a little too much.
Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved