Friday, 7 February 2014

Vol 20 – technology


Back in the day, when we were all new to the technological revolution that was just about to get a grip, the first thing you needed to teach your students in a ‘computers for dummies’ (not my choice of course title) class was not to scream otherwise the whole ten weeks would pass with you popping aspirin, valium or my personal favourite, Lemsip, to take away the pain. 

It would be enormously disconcerting to be quietly filling in your paperwork, while the class diligently squinted over their laptops, to be interrupted by an ear blasting shriek and you would drop your papers and scurry over immediately to elicit the exact nature of the heart attack/stabbing/electrocution.

“What’s the matter Karen?  Are you all right?”

OH MY GOD I’VE LOST IT !!!!!!!” accompanied by copious hand wringing and eye rolling most akin to the passing of Diana.

“No, it’s still here, we just scroll down like this …”

The second thing you had to teach them was that the odds were they wouldn’t break it, randomly launch some rockets in Tasmania or inadvertently hack the Pentagon and start world war three. 

Anyway, here’s the mistake.  On the last day of a similar ten week intro to computers night school course with all the other students having dwindled away, busy with the end of course report, I surprisingly noticed Eric, a wiry, weathered former seaman with tattoos and a tremor, still working quietly in the corner.

“Eric, I need your portfolio before you go please.”

I’m guessing he was in his sixties and though he found it difficult, had applied himself with vigour to the course.  At intervals of five minutes during the following half hour, I gently reminded him of the need to finally print off his ten page portfolio as evidence of his competence.   At long last I pottered over to help him.

“I’m pressing print,” he said and demonstrated that he was indeed selecting ‘print’ and moreover his tremor meant each click was in fact translated into three or four more clicks.

“I can’t understand it,” he said passively.

Over my shoulder,  yelping for him to stop as realisation dawned,  I raced to the techies’ room where the printer that Eric was directing was housed and scrabbled, as the astounded technicians looked on, to grab the grand total of three hundred printed A4 pages delivered as per Eric’s patient though insistent instructions.

“We need each and every one of these,”  I lied.