A New Gadget Came My Way.
Every new gadget brings along anxiety.
Who would have imagined that each new electronic toy we acquire arrives with uncertainty, some fear, and inadequacy packed alongside the spiffy item? It’s right there, waiting for us, ready to take hold of our minds. Of course, we must first figure out how to open its box, also designed to the max.
Last week I was gifted a new iPad. I needed this device to solve a problem based on my new apartment. Here’s the issue: my furniture arrangement doesn’t allow me to watch TV while cooking or eating. So, I ate my meals on the coffee table. Therefore, I had to sit on the sofa's edge, with the edge of the plate or bowl opposite me, bringing spoonfuls of food across about one foot of carpeting to make it to my mouth. You get the picture, but my carpet got the drippings.
Before I moved in, I made a layout where the movers would place my furniture. I had just sold my lovely dining room table and matching chairs and forgot that was my only table — Amazon came to the rescue.
I stood at the kitchen counter to eat while awaiting delivery of the new table. It arrived, and I placed it in the apartment’s foyer, but the TV is in the living room perpendicular to the table. I had always been a good planner, but this arrangement sucked!
The iPad came to the rescue. The plan was to watch TV by placing it right on the new table along with my meals. Now the only thing I had to do was get it to turn on.
My son, the gift giver, patiently explained everything about how it worked. First of all, he showed me how to fold the cover so the iPad would stand up. After he left, it took me about six tries until I could replicate his fold. It seemed no matter how I tried, it collapsed. Then I applied my thumb to the home button, eagerly anticipating its opening.
Nothing happened. Instead of the iPad coming to life, my anxiety stepped right up. I tried it again. Finally, it opened, but I was a trembling mess by then.
My confidence had vanished, replaced with ineptitude. Each step of the way brought feelings of failure and stupidity.
Finally, after six days of trial and error (mostly error), it’s working. On Friday, I watched Morning Joe without a hitch, and I’m a happy camper.
My computer history started in 1985 when I was the owner/operator of a recruiting business. After finding a job opening, I sorted through about one thousand resumes of people looking for jobs. I kept a great deal of this information in my head at that time, but I could easily miss a qualified candidate for a job that had specific criteria.
A computer was the answer. So, I computerized all those resumes in a relational database that worked terrifically. After entering each person’s skill set, I could manipulate the data to produce precisely the candidate I was seeking.
Then, all I had to do was convince the candidate and the potential boss that this match would work out for both parties. It was not easy, and I didn’t enjoy the work.
But, I did enjoy using my computer. It was a PC. Years later, I switched to a Mac. The transition from one to the other was not as challenging as I had anticipated, so the iPad should have been a breeze. Who knows where all that angst arose. Maybe it came from trying to live up to my image of being smart, computer savvy, and “with it” and my upcoming ninetieth birthday.
Anne Lamott offers, up
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
“I’ll have to try that!