© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, technology, computers, instructions, astronaut, Sesame Street, Salt Palace, Provo, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)
Technology befuddles me. I think that's a gal thing—meaning women are genetically predisposed to never understand technological instructions. Case in point, how long did it take before we had a woman astronaut? It took centuries. And when we finally did get one, she went off her rocker, drove across the country and tried to kill someone. Was she really crazy, or just befuddled by technology?
Most gals instinctively grasp the important things in life—like how to shave their underarms with a dull, albeit pink-colored razor and not end up wearing Band-Aids on their armpits for the next month. We understand how much fuzz we can let build up in the dryer’s lint trap before it sets the house on fire. We even know how to lick chocolate frosting off a sharp steak knife.
Okay, I take that last one back. Licking anything off a sharp knife generally gives you a forked tongue. Which is fine if you want to resemble a boa constrictor, but otherwise …
What some of us (meaning me) don’t understand is a page of written instructions that makes no sense, and then when we finally figure them out, they still don’t work. It’s not the logic in the instructions that’s the problem. It’s the lack of it. Face it, most manuals are written by men. The same men who would rather drive around Provo for hours, looking for the gun show at the Salt Palace, than to stop and ask for directions.
Not long ago, I wanted to post a picture online. According to knowledgeable sources—that would be either Paul Harvey or Sesame Street; I can’t remember which—it’s a good idea for writers to have a photo of themselves on their website.
I found a picture of me and my dog, Corky Porky Pie. It took hours to get it ready for public viewing, though. After all, I had to skinny it, airbrush it and remove several years worth of facial wrinkles. Corky is very particular about how he looks out on the ‘Net.
I followed the site’s instructions to upload the photo. That took about 10 seconds. When I clicked the button to save it, nothing happened. There wasn’t even the normal clicking sound, so I turned up the speakers. Removing my glasses, I rubbed my eyes and tried to reason through the problem. Maybe I hadn’t clicked hard enough. I looked back at the monitor’s screen. Maybe the computer had caught a virus, because now the screen was fuzzy. Oh wait, that’s because I took off my glasses. Glasses … glasses … where had I put my glasses?
After searching the piles of papers and left-over Twinkie wrappers on my desk, I gave up and went back to the task of uploading the photo. I must have clicked the wrong button the first time. Leaning forward, with my nose pressed against the computer screen, I tried to read the blurry words. The button read, “Click here to upload photo.” Or maybe, “Win a free trip to China.” I wasn’t sure which. I clicked anyway.
Trumpets blared from the speakers. Let me assure you that when the volume is turned to high, and your ears are two inches away, you don’t stay in your chair. For one brief second, I knew how the Wright Brothers felt on their first flight, because I catapulted into the air almost as high as they flew.
A second later, I knew how it felt when they landed, too. I lay on the floor, rubbing my bruised posterior and listening to a voice jabbering from the speakers in Chinese. Then it switched to English and said, “So sorry. You not win trip. Try again next time.”
I gave up. With a sigh, I hoisted myself up from the floor and went into the kitchen. I just knew that somewhere in there was a can of frosting and a sharp knife.
What's playing in my head: Nothing. My brain is STILL mush from hunting for a new home!
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