Update July 3 6:15 AM:
It only took two hours.
First, it was a lesson in gratitude, and I am not saying that in sarcasm. I will never feel self-conscious about my little architecturally bizarre walk-up apartment again. The floors are slightly uneven (if I sit in my computer chair and lift my feet off the ground and be very still, my chair will start to roll to the left. Very Seinfeld NYC-esque), the kitchen, inexplicably, has non-functioning drawers, and there are no windows in the living room. However, at least it has houseplants and birdies and pretty pictures all over the walls. This babe’s house was straight out of Jacob Riis (google images it), and that’s all I’m gonna say.
She did have cats. Several of them. Friendly creatures all, who wanted to demonstrate their approval of my visit by rubbing themselves all over my legs, lap, and backpack as I worked.
Nice Lady showed me the laptop her son sent her. I’d assumed he had bought her a new Acer at Walmart or something. As usual, I was wrong.
When I fired that baby up, about a million “program updates are available to install” immediately filled the screen. Dude, I thought I was bad about upgrading to the newest version of Adobe Flash. Nice Lady’s computer was running a version of Microsoft Windows that I (mercifully) hadn’t seen since I was an undergrad. It was a version of MS Windows that had The Blue Screen of Death. Remember that blast from the past? Wasn’t that great?
“Can I offer you some tea?” asked Nice Lady.
Turns out that she already had an email address–some “Puerto Rican handyman” set it up for her a long time ago, but she had never used it. I took a look. It contained nothing but 3,000 pieces of spam.
“What’s spam?” asked Nice Lady.
“The electronic equivalent of junk mail. Ads, mostly.”
She peered at the screen. “Netflix sent me a message? But I canceled my membership with them. Why would they do that?”
I told her to forget it and ordered her to never go to that website or check that email address ever again.
Then I set her up with a nice Gmail account and made Google her home screen. I was going to make it a Yahoo! account because I was worried that the nested Gmail format would confuse her, but ultimately decided that the flashing news reports and rotating images and headlines on Yahoo! would confuse her even worse.
I made it as bomb-proof as I could. Her email addy is her name, the password is the names of her two oldest cats, she is permanently signed in, and when she “clicks on the internet” (I moved the Internet Explorer desk icon into the very middle of the screen and pushed all the others as far away as possible), it takes her right there.
Then I sent her an email from my phone: “Hi Nice Lady! Welcome to your new email!”
It appeared in her inbox. I showed her how to open it and reply.
“thank you miss margo. you are a good friend,” she typed back.
I felt my eyes getting wet. It wasn’t from all the cat hair, either.
I’ll be back soon. I need to spend a little more time concentrating on keeping myself well.
* * *
Yours truly is still on an Official Leave of Absence, but in the meantime, consider this a postcard from the luxurious, fun-filled resort of Hotel A.A. (aka “Bill Wilson’s Reeducation Camp.”)
My reprogramming seems to be going swimmingly. This evening, for instance, after the beach party and luau, I am going to Help Another Alcoholic in Need. There was a very nice elderly lady at a meeting who shared that she was feeling tremendous anxiety about computer technology. Specifically, she needs to get an email account in order to receive information and updates about some services she uses. She does not have an email account and does not know how to get one. Her son, who lives in another state, bought a laptop for her, but she does not know how to use it. She is terrified of handling it, as if she found a boobytrap bomb or landmine underneath her piano.
Someone suggested that she go to the library and consult a librarian, but that vexed her even more. She said that she wanted to put up a flyer on the bulliton board at the grocery store offering to hire someone to help her out, but she didn’t know what to write on the flyer.
I approached her after the meeting and offered to come over to her apartment after work and set up her internet and email account for her. I said, don’t stress, it’s super easy, I’ll show you and write down all the step-by-step instructions and you will learn it in ten minutes (I am basically a computer moron, but I still taught my Mom how to do stuff like cut-and-paste and download email attachment jpegs).
Nice Lady was so happy that she hugged me and called me an angel. I’ll remember that the next time I’m, you know, giving some dude a swirly at the Studio or something.
I’m about to go over to Nice Lady’s apartment right now. My primary concern is that she isn’t going to have access to a ISP Network, which means that she’ll have to go to the Starbucks on her block (which will freak her out) or piggyback on one of her neighbors’ internet. She lives very close to me–if her computer can pick up mine, I’d give her the password and let her use it. It’s not like she’s going to download a ton of pirated HBO tv specials and communiques from Al Qaeda and illegal porn.
My task is simple, but I anticipate that it will test my very sanity. This is how you turn it on. This is how you click Microsoft Explorer (I am not going to show her how to use Firefox or Chrome, fucking forget it). No, wrong side of the mouse. This is where you type in “gmail.” I could be in Nice Lady’s apartment for hours. I must put on my best “Can I help you, Lady?” public servant hat. I have a very patient personality, so that should help.
I am telling you this, my friends, because I am trying to be honest. I do not want to be one of the persons who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. I want to develop a manner of living which requires rigorous honesty. That is why I am telling you that I might want to beat my head against a wall before I get this Nice Lady’s Email set up.
Salutations from Resort AA. WISH YOU WERE HERE!
(P.S. I know that I am inviting a shitstorm of hateful hatemail with this post, but if you can’t get that IT IS GENTLE SATIRE, you need to chill out, man. Yeah I’m making fun of the preamble but I am still going over to this Nice Lady’s Apt to help with her internet.)