Along the Trail: A Lit­tle In­for­ma­tion

The Victoria Standard - - Commentary - CHUCK THOMP­SON

It was one of those dreaded let­ters we all get from time to time. It was a fed­eral govern­ment depart­ment look­ing for a “lit­tle more in­for­ma­tion.” A lit­tle more in­for­ma­tion as in “How many peo­ple died on the Ti­tanic and who were they?”

Well, there was no choice but to suck it up and get at it. As I booted up my lap­top, I could feel the stress creep­ing up my body un­til my neck was as stiff as a poker. I kept telling my­self this will be a few “easy steps”, then we can do some­thing use­ful like go salmon fish­ing or make a batch of mus­tard pick­les.

My angst with com­put­ers is well doc­u­mented and I tried to as­sure my­self that this would be noth­ing. Just click here, click there and we’re done. I even gave my­self a lec­ture about how I had to get with the ages. Ex­cept I didn’t be­lieve it for a mo­ment. My ex­ploits with com­put­ers and ma­chines are leg­endary, and there was no rea­son to think this time would be any dif­fer­ent.

So, I en­tered my pass­word and tried to fol­low the “few easy steps.’ And they were easy, es­pe­cially if you had a de­gree in ad­vanced cal­cu­lus.

From time to time, I glanced at the clock on the wall and it was qui­etly mov­ing along from hour to hour. The few easy steps now were in their third hour. Fi­nally, in des­per­a­tion, I called the at­tached call cen­tre and got a lovely, most help­ful young lady. Co­lette, I do be­lieve. Her main virtue had to be pa­tience. I could pic­ture her sit­ting in her cu­bi­cle look­ing at her fel­low work­ers and qui­etly point­ing at the phone while mouthing the words “You wouldn’t be­lieve!”

Well, hour three passed with more helpers on the line than NASA dur­ing Apollo 13, and I fi­nally got the task com­pleted. All I had to do was print, and we were good. Ex­cept it wouldn’t print. Why did I know that? The printer kept telling me to go press the but­ton on the router and start again. So I spent about 20-30 min­utes go­ing down­stairs to the router, com­ing back up­stairs to see if the print had started (it hadn’t) then re­peated the ex­er­cise. Over and over, up and down, up and down, blink­ing lights ev­ery­where, but no ac­tion on the part of the printer. Af­ter about half an hour, I could feel the burn ex­cept this was not aer­o­bics, it was com­puter 101. It was bru­tal. I was scared to take my pulse.

The fu­ture is not look­ing so good, ei­ther. As I thumbed through the scant fly­ers we get here at the ragged edge of the corn belt, I saw things were on sale and I did not even know what they were, never mind if that was a good price! When I, on rare oc­ca­sion, en­ter one of those big box stores that spe­cial­ize in elec­tron­ics (do they still call it elec­tron­ics?) I feel I have just been casted in an episode of Star Trek. I can only imag­ine what is next. I hope it does not re­quire a “few easy steps “or “some assem­bly re­quired.” To be so lucky!

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