Before my engineer husband tries to explain anything technical to me, he says, “I think you might want to get the yellow pad.”
He, of course, means an 8x11 lined legal pad that we buy by the kilo, since he also asserts that when I die he’s going to insert a multi-pack of them into my coffin for my use in the hereafter.
In his dream of the hereafter, somebody else is helping me with my technical problems besides him.
I have a multitude of really good skills in a number of areas. But techno stuff? The synapses just don’t fire in sequence. Interestingly, I’m reasonably good with cameras, which Olof insists is because I actually like cameras and photography, unlike virtually any other technical gismo, all of whom I have a total hate-hate relationship with.
I did master my new iPhone, but only after I spent the first 12 mornings of ownership at the AT&T store on Pearl, yellow pad in hand. (I refuse to allow that the rapid turnover of employees that week had anything to do with me.)
While I’ve never had learning disabilities per se, I think I’ve always suffered from technical dyslexia. Or maybe that’s dys-technia?
Fortunately, I’m trainable. But I need the yellow pad and laboriously detailed instructions. There are no givens in Inga Land. Olof, along with my long-suffering former co-worker, Dave, have tried to maintain that most techno gadgets are designed to be intuitive. You play with it, you figure it out, you don’t need a manual. Hah! Let me rephrase that. HAH! For some of us, there IS no intuitive.
As for my computer, Olof insists I can’t break it. Maybe not, but I can get it to the point where I can’t get it to work again either. In my world, that’s called “broken.” You’re typing along, minding your own business, and suddenly everything on the screen looks different. Sweat breaks out on my forehead.
Olof would also insist that computers are made up of ones and zeros and operate by logical rules, but I know differently. Technical gadgets sense fear and take advantage of it. Sometimes you just have to get the upper hand by threatening the machine into submission. Windows Live Mail only shaped up when it knew I was going to replace it with Outlook.
Olof also maintains that the biggest problem I have with electronics is that I have the frustration tolerance of a gnat. I am forever vowing that whatever gadget is giving me trouble is simply going to end up in the pool. It’s kind of become a code phrase. “So, is it in the pool?” Olof will inquire when he comes home from work knowing I’ve been thwarted all day by my computer.
Olof says I have to learn to stay calm when frustrated. Why? What’s the point? I think hurling epithets at mechanical devices is a perfectly reasonable and healthy reaction.
Of course, a third reason I hate technical apparati is that I hate being dependent on other people to help me fix them. Olof, bless him, is endlessly patient but I know that when he pours his third Scotch he’s getting testy. This is especially true when he’s trying to teach me something for the first time and has to wait while I painstakingly record instructions like this: