Janes Stebbins

I have never been a techno-geek, and I don’t plan on changing.

I’ll never forget the time my friend, I’ll call him “Jim,” went to take a shower and left three (???) TV remotes with me. Big mistake. I couldn’t figure out how to change the channel, but I sure had that volume cranked! A half-hour later, I’d reprogrammed the Mars Rover. Jim never forgave me.

I’ve had a computer catch fire; I think it was because I type so fast. My IT guy just shook his head in disagreement, noted that I was the firefighter in the office, handed me a fire extinguisher and pointed toward the exit door. I have photos.

I guess my techno-ineptitude started at my first newspaper gig that used computers — some people might remember those square Macintoshes that were later used as doorstops or retrofitted as aquariums.

Oh, how we would crowd around our “computer guy” — his name really was Guy, and the word IT hadn’t been created yet — and we oohed and ahhed, as he showed us how to cut and paste, or send an “email.” 1980s technology was so exciting!

But whenever one of these boxes broke, we fled. I always said I wasn’t the one who made the big bucks, and therefore I wouldn’t be the one trying to learn how to “reboot” it.

Nope. Leave that to the professionals — to Guy, the IT guy. I’ll be at my desk, banging away on my typewriter, thank you very much. Even today, if it doesn’t “reboot” after I unplug it, I go crying to the “help desk.”

Then came cell phones. They were the size of shoeboxes. The gradually got smaller — and much more complex. Whenever I ran into a problem, I merely boarded a bus, where children are often found. Within one bus stop or two, I was done. Either my phone problem was solved or the driver had kicked me off the school bus.

Recently, I was trying to “upload” an “app” — hey, new words! — called Touch Notes. Instead of spending 5 Euro in Dublin to purchase a postcard and another 4.5 Euro to send it — and have it arrive with more cracks in it than the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling — I’ll get to take a photo of my daughter and I in front of some historic structure (or a bar) and “send it” to this app. They make it into a real postcard and send it to whomever I please! It’ll even get to that person before I get home, which is not something you can say about the European postal service.

But my phone would not upload/download (???) this app. In fact, it said it was still trying to update Google Maps, MapQuest and Cascadia Fault from, oh, seven months ago, when I put in those requests.

Someone suggested I use “wifi” instead of “data.” Sure. But after an hour of “loading,” that colorful “beachball of death” was still spinning on my screen. Loading. Loading. Loading.

I gave up. Since there’s not any free public transit around here from where I can poach the knowledge of 6-year-olds, I went down to my friendly AT&T store, where they hire small children who know how to do this stuff.

The young lady there only made a few bad IT-doctor noises before telling me to turn off the phone.

I can do this, I thought, proudly. I pressed the button; screen goes black.

“No, turn it all the way off,” she said.

“There’s … an ‘all the way off’?” I said.

She smiled, pressed the off button for a long time and the phone requested I slide the bar to turn it off.

“The phone needs to reboot itself in the off mode,” she explained. “It hooks it up to all the towers, updates everything — you know.”

No, I don’t.

“When was the last time you turned off the phone?” she asked.

“Off? Um, like you did? Um … never?”

She smiled again. “That might explain it. It’s been in ‘sleep mode’ all this time. How long have you owned it?”

“Umm,” I said, contemplating a lie. “Like, two years?”

She smiled, and pressed a few buttons as I watched on in utter amazement. Bip-boop-click-bip. Then she downloaded Touch Notes and handed me my phone back.

“You’re set!”

Gotta love these kids.

So I’ll send be sending postcards after all— if I ever figure out how to turn this dang thing back on.

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