Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Love, Technically

Someone was talking about her new cell phone, a fancy one with bells and whistles. She said this was unusual because she wasn't very technical. And it reminded me that I spent years being afraid of technology with no idea why.

I might have been wary of computers because of Mother. She retired early to avoid the switch to computers by her office. She would love email and the like, absolutely adore it, but she views a computer like a wild animal that broke out of a cage and is menacing her from the corner.

I still have much to learn, but I do jump in now. My method is to forge ahead, falling flat on my face many times. It generally is the way I've always learned, in all areas of life.

It was a friend who introduced me to the modern age.

We were co-workers back then. I had moved into an apartment and purchased my first color television set. The sets I'd had before were bought by others, hand-me-downs and the like. I did win a color set once, in college.

I bought several raffle tickets from some charming children who came to the door of my off-campus rental house, then forgot about the purchase. Then early one morning, I heard a ruckus from the living room. I stumbled from the bedroom, thinking if burglars were there, I could just run.

I found a gaggle of young boys placing a large box in the middle of the room. They were members of a school marching band. The director said I had won the television and he had tried to reach me, but I had not answered the phone. Same thing with the door that morning (I was a heavy sleeper back then). The door was unlocked, so he decided to just leave the prize in the living room. He hoped that was okay.

And with that, they were off.  But I was a reader, not a television watcher, and I gave the set to my father.

After moving to Washington, D.C., I watched the news on a tiny black-and-white set tucked into the corner of some built-in bookshelves in the front entryway. I lived in a brick rowhouse built in 1900 or so. A television seemed out of place in this home of floor-to-ceiling bookcases, French doors opening to balconies and narrow staircases. The phones were old-fashioned, hard-wired sets, rotary dial. I kept hearing about the need to buy different ones, but ignored that.

So in the new apartment, I decided to modernize. I bought the color television set and a touch-tone phone.  They did not work. I had never operated a remote and decided it was broken. The phone also must be defective, I thought. This was in 1991.

My co-worker, who I considered a high-tech god, offered to come over and help. "It's like you've been living in another century," he said, unable to hide the surprise in his voice. I needed cable, he said, in order for the television to work. He nosed around and figured out how to make the phone work (translation, found a jack). He said he had a computer at home, for email.

I was impressed with his know-how. I ordered the cable. He came over later to (try to) show me how to work the remote.

So, I married him. We have a teenage son.

And he's still trying to show me how to work the remote(s).