Last week I lost my “Hi-tech Grammy” badge. Granted this event isn’t as momentous as losing your virginity, or even your wallet, but I’m chagrined nevertheless.
When our grandchildren were tots, the computer in the den offered an entertainment option. I admit to feeling a degree of satisfaction when one or the other would call out, “Grammy, we need help finding our game.” Once retired, I’d progressed from not knowing how to turn on the computer—for years we had an efficient and knowledgeable secretary—to being quite proficient with word processing. Little did I realize the challenges ahead. Wireless keyboards, printers, and USB ports. Docking hubs, modems, and routers. Servers, providers, and Google. Pages of new words added to the dictionary. I’ve somehow managed to keep up. And computers were only the beginning.
My first cell phone served as a paperweight on my desk and offered nothing but the opportunity for voice communication when away from home. After a couple of years rebuffing the laughter from the grandkids—they’d somehow become teenagers—I changed to a smaller, clamshell phone. In no time, they were laughing again. “When are you going to get a smart phone, Grammy? Then you could text us.” Now I have one. Do I dare admit I haven’t added any apps? Still, they brag to their friends, “My grandmother knows how to text.” It’s a good thing, too, because email correspondence, which is my preferred form of communication, is much too tedious for them now they are all in college. They do still chuckle when I remind them I have only two-hundred free text messages a month. “I use that up in a day,” my granddaughter tells me. So far I’ve never exceeded that free limit.
I think it was when I designed my own website they awarded me my virtual badge. I followed that accomplishment with getting a Facebook page, although I sensed some trepidation when they knew I expected us to be friends so I could keep up with their postings. I’ve not shared my frustration with the major changes made to the site after I thought I understood it.
My next venture was to establish my blog. The grandkids were impressed. Still, they have more to do than add my postings to their required reading list, so I count on other family members and friends to become followers. Another secret I keep from them: after months of postings, I recently discovered how to manage the settings of my blog so others could be notified and add comments. Perhaps I will blog more now.
With all of this techy stuff under my belt, I confidently went about installing my new printer, the same all-in-one model we have in our winter home. Except this one is wireless. In no time I set it up and inserted the CD to guide me through the connection process. The directions led me step by step…until informed “USB connection not found.” The instructions told me to return to the previous page, where the annoying message stared at me again. No matter what I tried, I could go no further.
I double-checked: yes, the USB was inserted in my computer, the other end into the back of the printer. The power was connected—I could turn the printer on and make copies. But I couldn’t send a document from my computer to be printed. I did everything I could think of. In the middle of the night I woke wondering what to try next. Nothing moved me past the roadblock. I gave up, totally frustrated.
The next day I invited my son and grandson, a college senior, to dinner. After handing both of them a beer, I told them my problem. My grandson bounded up the stairs two at a time to our den and planted himself in front of the computer. We followed close behind. He flew through web pages faster than I could blink. And there was that message again. “Connection not found.” I left him and my son, who was peering over his shoulder, and went to finish dinner preparations.
Not five minutes later, the two of them joined me in the kitchen. “It’s working now, Grammy.”
“No kidding?! What was wrong?”
“You inserted the other end of the USB connection in the port for the fax line.”
As I mentally tore my “Hi-tech Grammy” badge off my blouse, he put his arm around me and said. “Anyone could make that mistake.” So maybe the badge is still there, but a lot of the shine is gone.