As I mentioned before, my mom and I work at the same place, and worked together previously at another company. I handled many things there, including all the computers. This was, well, a long time ago. Modems were slow and phone charges were expensive. We had people who did field work for us around the country. One of the things that these representatives did was meet arriving foreign student groups at international airports and get them to the next gate. (This was well before 9/11, so it was far easier for our reps to meet the kids.) I had designed a database program to help track the students and their host families, along with travel information. A few times a year, the reps would send their laptops back to the office for me to work on–update the database, do some general system work, etc.
Now, while my mom had a computer on her desk, it was a mysterious object. She simply had no idea (nor any desire to learn) how to use it. I tried. I continue to try to this day. It’s . . . excruciating at times. She’s an intelligent woman, so that’s not the problem. I believe she has convinced herself that computers are too complicated and that she’ll never learn how to use one, so she simply doesn’t make a true effort. This has been going on for more than 20 years. (And people wonder where I get my stubborn streak from!)
Something my mom did (and, yes, continues to) do, though, is order things from catalogs. Gadgets (nothing too techy, of course), books, movies, CDs, shoes, what have you. One thing she’s always trying to do is find things that will help her back. She’s had a bad back on and off for a very long time. To a point where she’s been forced to lay in bed for days due to the pain. Various lumbar supports and other back-stress-relieving items have come and gone over the years. Typically, she has them delivered to the office and then has me come and install the gadget du jour. Because she somehow assumes I have lots and lots of time to do such things. At one point I explained how I really didn’t have time to help her with each thingy that showed up at the office. So she began a relatively vain attempt to figure out the installations on her own. And then I’d get a call to come and help after she gave up.
On one particular occasion, a box arrived at the office and she eagerly opened it to get at the latest back thingamajig she’d ordered. But, as usual, I got a call on the intercom an hour later. “Kev, can you come down and take a look at this thing I got for my back? I don’t know if I’m using it right, and it’s not very comfortable.” Down the stairs I went, over to the adjacent building, and back to her office. “See? I don’t know how it’s supposed to go. There were no instructions. I don’t know if it goes behind me or if I’m supposed to sit on it. And if it goes behind me, does it go vertical or horizontal?”
I looked at the item and knew exactly what was wrong. “Mom, can I see the box it came in, please?”
“Sure, it’s right there. Why?”
“Because I want to look at the label. Yeah, just as I thought. See this? It’s not from a backrest company.”
“But I haven’t ordered anything else!”
“You’re not the only person who receives packages here, Mom. It was addressed to me.”
“Why would you order a backrest? Are you having back problems?”
“Mom, it’s not a backrest. You’ve been sitting on a laptop computer wrapped in bubble wrap!”