Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fair Hope of Future Shock

September 26

Yesterday I was reminded of my roots in Fairhope of the 1950's. This was because I was thrust into activities of ought-six and too often didn't know what I was doing.

I have a new laptop which I feel very modern clicking buttons on, but I don't know any of the nuances the little whiz-bang is capable of, and I really don't care. Every day in my heart I thank Margaret Gaston who taught me how to type at the age of 13, and my father, who insisted it was a skill I would use all my life. "Learn to think at the typewriter," he said. "Let your fingers write for you." A hunt-and-peck typist, he always wished he had had a class or two in touch-typing. If he only knew how those keyboard skills would be employed in the future, and on what instruments.

The modem on the PC upstairs is hardly used any more, so something has gone wrong and the button to turn it on doesn't work. I unplugged the various sockets, plugs and switches on the back and put hauled the modem to the car, to drop off at the repair shop for a diagnostic before I went to the dentist over on the other side of Mobile. I arranged to meet a computer-literate friend for lunch. I took my laptop with me to the wireless café famous for bread, soup and salad. Luckily I had the laptop; he was late. I felt very chic opening it up and checking the blog and the email while I waited. I noticed a couple of old men with long white hair and white beards working on their laptops so I realized this is actually as much a geezer activity as anything these days.

When my friend arrived and we placed our orders I asked him about the service procedure at the restaurant -- we had each been given plastic discs that were blinking. I said, "When it blinks, does that mean the food's ready?" and he laughed and said, "You're so ignorant, it's fun to take you out. I have to introduce you to the basic stuff that everybody knows. When the order's ready, the disc will buzz and light up. You'll know it." So we talked a couple of minutes and he told me he had called my cell phone to let me know he was going to be late, but he knew that was pointless because I wouldn't have my cell phone on me, or bother to check it for messages. (He was right; I don't even remember my cell phone number.) He said it made him feel useful to go out with me because I clearly couldn't function without his help. Then the little disc started flashing and buzzing and I knew I could go get my salad, and I thought about the days when girls were admonished to make their dates feel smart and strong be pretending to be dumb and weak, only now it was more a job of trying not to seem like a doddering old lady just because you're not interested in learning a lot of unimportant technological tricks.

But it was a beautiful day and a nice lunch, and I had to hurry home to feed the cat. I forgot to take the modem to the computer shop, so I have to do that today. Is this life in the fast lane or what?

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