There are two sorts of people in this world, those who read instructions and those who don’t. It may not surprise you to learn that I am one of those who don’t, hence my exclusion from the finer points of IT, fancy features on my mobile phone, digital camera and blog. I also have a bit of a thing about iPAQs. And iPODs, come to mention it.
To be honest, to start with it was a bit of a statement – I think I was making a stand for those of us who still use a paper diary and pen, who add up and do percentages in our head and can find our way home without a sat-nav. For my generation, TomTom meant a set of drums, not a high-tech method of finding out how lost we are. Of late, my technophobia has become a real pain – I realise that however resistant I’ve been to change and hated being dragged kicking and screaming into the technological age, I really do need to get to proper grips with it all and I am now making the effort to learn. So I give in. I was being silly. But there are still times when that little renegade voice in my head makes me behave like a total technophobe and it’s usually when people are being patronising to me that my awkward gene kicks in, big-time.
A young IT engineer visited my office yesterday and along with other things which horrified him about my lack of computer literacy, he was stunned to find that I wasn’t using the electronic diary on my computer. He looked about fourteen years old, cocky and confident, and obviously didn’t realise that diaries don’t always come with batteries or a three-pin plug. Bless him.
“How do you manage to get to your appointments on time then, if you don’t use the diary facility?” he asks in a shocked voice with a scandalised expression on his face.
“I use my own diary facility” say I, waiting for the usual reaction. I’ve been here before. In a household full of technical whiz-kids I am the family dinosaur. I am used to being mocked, but I can handle it. I fix a smile and the thought “don’t mess with me, sonny” wafts across my mind.
“But there’s nothing in your diary.” He might as well have added, “you stupid woman” and he’s shaking his head.
“That’s because I use this diary instead.” I scrabble in my bag and drag out a small, stylish (of course) brown leather diary with a tiny little pen. It matches my bag and purse, obviously.
He looks as if he’s viewing an Egyptian artefact exhumed from the tomb of a long-dead Pharaoh. The guy is shocked. He has never seen anything like it in his life.
“It’s made of paper” – there’s no getting past this bloke, he is observant.
“Yes, I find it easier.” I know what’s coming next. He is shaking his head again and I can almost hear him thinking ‘Poor old girl. She should be at home watching day-time TV and sucking humbugs with her feet in a big slipper.’
“But what if you lose it, how would you know what you’re supposed to be doing then?” he challenges, triumphantly slapping down what he thinks is his trump card of computer logic.
“The same thing I’d do if the the computer system went down (I am thinking "which it does all the time, YOU CONDESCENDING LITTLE TIT") - I'd use my onboard computer." I am definitely getting tired of explaining myself to him.
“Your onboard computer?? Where’s that then?” Is he patronising me? Was that a snigger I heard? Is he actually laughing at me? I can feel my hackles rising.
“Here, in my head” says I, tapping my forehead and smiling benignly, somehow resisting the temptation to unleash my inner Rottweiler.
He is now totally confused, and is obviously getting a bit worried that he’s dealing with an escaped mad woman or someone who’s been in a coma for the last twenty years and has just woken up in this office, dazed and confused. I can almost hear him thinking “I’ve got a right one here, can’t wait to tell the lads back in the Department. Oh how they’ll laugh.”
“So you keep all your appointments in your head?”
“No, in my diary. My paper diary.” I’m definitely thinking of savaging him.
He looks at me and wearily shakes his head, obviously relieved that although very odd, I appear to be harmless. “You really need to transfer all of that stuff into the computer. What would happen if you were off unexpectedly and someone else had to cover your job?”
“They’d look in that big desk diary, the one your coffee’s standing on?”
“I see.” He obviously doesn’t, but is humouring me. “Would you like me to transfer those appointments into the electronic diary while I’m here?” He’s definitely not giving up and maybe he has a point. Perhaps it’s time for me to conform.
“Ok then, that’s fine. Carry on. Thanks.” He had better not be smirking.
He taps away furiously for a few seconds, the whizzing mouse tracing crop-circles on the mat. He looks confused, worried, exasperated. He phones his Mothership, the IT Department, has a conversation in an alien techno-language I don’t understand and slams the phone down. He looks a bit sheepish.
“Got a problem?” I ask, trying not to sound triumphant.
“System’s down, I can’t get into the right screen. They say it’ll be off for another hour or two. I’ll have to come back later. How about 2.30?”
I open my little brown leather diary. The irony of the situation is not passing him by. “Yes, that should be fine, but I have to be out of here by 4.00 for an appointment.” – I wanted to add “which I have here, on paper, written in pen, accessible to me instantly. Right now, as we speak” but you’ve got to know when to back off , haven’t you?
With a face like thunder, he picks up his coffee mug, armload of electronic gadgetry, briefcase and pen. Exit one extremely annoyed IT engineer, stage left, muttering something I didn’t really want to hear. I can just imagine what he thinks of me, but I'll get over it.
I put my little leather diary back in my bag and get on with my work, humming a happy tune. Oh, but life can be so sweet sometimes.