Monday, June 27, 2011

Requiem for the Digitally Inept

I have surrendered. The digital age is here to stay and beyond. What is a techno klutz like me supposed to do to survive?

I’ve been taking care of my brother’s cats while he’s on vacation. Of course, he has a state of the art alarm system that is way beyond my comprehension. It has taken me four months in my new apartment to get the hang of my simpler device. When I go out, I put in a code and I have 20 seconds to shut the door. Simple…if I remember it all.

Sometimes, I forget that I have not disarmed the stay at home feature.  It blares as soon as I open the door. It has taken me three months to figure out that I only have to put the code in again to shut it up.

Then there’s the cell phone…another device that is diabolically designed to bring the techno klutz to their knees. It seems our culture has decided the cell phone is now the primary phone connection. What amazes me is that even professionals call a cell phone before they call the house phone. The young officer at the bank left a message on my cell which I finally retrieved five days later since I only use my cell when away from the landline. I need a beeper on my cell phone to let me know I have messages…oh wait a minute…I do. But I have to be powered on.  

Now you take these lethal combinations and they can translate into serious inconvenience. Such was the day I tripped my brother’s house alarm. It took me a good five minutes to realize what the gong was. I managed to shut it off with the remote. The alarm company called as I expected but the password was in the car. “Can you call me back in two minutes? I’m the cat sitter and the password is in my purse in the car.” Talk about sounding suspicious. But the good people must have sensed I was the real deal. Crooks aren’t that spazed.

They called back…I gave them the password and they were content. Or so I thought.
An hour or so later when I got home after doing errands, there was an urgent email from my brother. Where are you? The alarm went off and I couldn’t get hold of you. I left two messages on your phone.  I called the police. 

No there was not one single message on my landline. When did message on your phone translate to I left a voice mail on your cell phone? Since I was powered down and I go days without checking my voice mail…well, you get the picture.

I was out of communication.

Apparently, my brother’s sophisticated alarm system notifies two people. And while I was on the phone talking to one person, another person was calling my brother and the two of them never communicated to one another. All the commotion could have been avoided if I simply kept my cell phone powered on.

So…it’ll take me three more months to get used to remembering that my cell phone has now become my primary source of notification. By then, the digital warriors will insist I have a phone device other than my simple Tracphone then back to the farm for the technologically challenged.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And Not to Yield

And Not to Yield
By Alfred Tennyson                                                                            

Old age hath yet his honor and his toil:
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of nobel note may yet be done…
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not no that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are.
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, bu t strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The sprint of life.

I watch  runners as they pour on new found energy during the last lap of the race. They fall across the finish line in exhilarated exhaustion. I suppose Alred Tennyson has it right. As we turn the corner of our last years, some energy propels us forward  for there is yet much to do. The race is not done.

There is so much of life yet to experience, knowledge yet to accumulate, wisdom yet to be gained. There are tasks yet to be completed that only I can do.  And I often joke that I’m still wondering what I’ll be when I grow up. And I expect I’ll ask St. Peter the same question when I meet him at Heaven’s gate.

Though the bones ache and putting in a seven hour day at work makes me ready for bed at 8:00pm, it’s exciting to know that God is not done with me until He calls me home.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Second Tuesday Blog Hop

Doubt, like tumbleweed,
  Ensnares the vision
  Resistance like friction
Not a cleansing blaze—rather raging insecurity  
Confidence flees
Flames frolic
 Laughing in false victory
Heaven’s manna rains
  The inferno extinguished
  Inspiration leaps reborn

And so goes the cycle…the idea erupts like a volcano, spilling hot energy across my mind…until I sit down to actually write. I suppose it’s akin to climbing a mountain…something else I’m inspired to do until I actually come face to face with the sheer magnitude of the height before me.

Inspiration may be the spark, but perspiration is what gets the job done…grit and determination…and yet another inspiration:


Consider the squirrel.
who scurries through snow-covered grass
gathering a winter supply
undeterred by chilly mornings

The sparrow sleeps upon a branch
content within the fortress of his wings
shielded from the midnight rain
When morning breaks he sings his song
though none may hear its resonance

Even the slug continues on
his pace nearly stagnant
toward his mysterious destination 
Yet there is a scheme in his existence

If the Maker
created these so small
resilient to nature’s tempers
why do we worry 
when buffeted by the gale?
Are we not more than these?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adapt or Die: Back in the Saddle Part 1

I’ve been retired for ten years now but recently took a job at a local department store. 
When the man said life goes in circles, I thought he meant incontinence, not working for minimum wage again.

My first part-time job was at W.T. Grants. When I interviewed for my current job, the twenty-something assistant manager said, “Never heard of it.” Not surprising since it went out of business in 1975 (circa), long before some of my co-workers were born. 

Resources say that W.T. Grant went out of business because they couldn’t adapt to the changing retail industry or compete with Kresge Corporation’s institutional K-marts. Although W.T. Grant tried building larger stores called Grant City, these stores were more individualized rather than the cookie-cutter shopping experience afforded at a local K-mart—a new trend in the early 1970’s gaining explosive popularity.  
I guess, even businesses must adapt or die.

I worry that I may become like that ill-fated department chain, insistent on doing things to my comfort level rather than allowing my mental and physical capabilities to be stretched. When I worked at Grants, the job required math skills as well as dexterity. Every item had a price tag on it. You entered the price and hit total on the machine. There were no credit cards, debits, or swipe cards. Some customers managed a store credit that had to be checked via a notebook complete with customer name and address. For all other sales, the customer gave you currency. Most often, you had to compute how much change to give back to the customer. Office staff handed you a precisely cashed drawer to bring to the register. When your shift ended, you cashed out and brought your drawer back to the office. If your drawer was short, so was your paycheck.

Today's computerized system with its bleeps and burps and sassafras manner of directing the employee rather than the employee using the machine as a tool, wore on my nerves. Within the first hour of the first day on the job, I was ready to turn on my heels, go to the manager and say, “Thank you for hiring me. It was a fun hour. Goodbye.”

“I’m out of here,” I said and turned.

A woman my age, my trainer, calmly scolded me. “No. You’re not. You can do this. It took me a month to learn. Just read the top of the register.”

Encouraged, I made the conscious decision to adapt.

I can honestly say, I’m actually enjoying my job…most days.

Businesses had changed since the days of W.T. Grant. And so have I. And perhaps the great circle of life is letting go of the old and embracing the new. There is a sense of satisfaction when something hard to learn becomes a part of you. I think of the seasons of my life where that has been true. Once I could only print. Then I learned to write. Once I had no children, then I had three.

No matter what season of life we are in, our survival depends upon the ability to adapt—whether it’s learning to use a computerized cash register or tipping wait staff at twenty percent. (Back in the Day it was only ten percent—that’s another column for another day).