(More like…missive to self)
Click. Click. Click-clickety-click. Click.
“Ha. You’re pretty good at that typing thing,” I said. “Type much?”
The young man sitting across from me at my favourite coffee haunt, lifted his face, smiled shyly. “A bit.”
He turned the laptop so the screen was facing me. “Now, just enter your password.”
“What password? I don’t have a password. Should I just use a regular, old one, or should I make up something new?”
“It’s up to you, but it should be something easy to remember.”
I turned my head slightly, thinking. I eyed him with my left eye. I tried to quickly type in a password so he couldn’t see it and so the web designer, who was on my side of the table, couldn’t detect it. I fumbled. I entered it twice.
“Um, they have to match,” he said.
“Oh, they don’t match?” I tried again. Messed up. I searched for the backspace bar on the strange keyboard. I searched for the “shift” key. By the time he and the designer helped me enter the simple, easy-to-remember code, I’d forgotten it. I tried again.
“OK, great,” he said, turning the computer back to himself. Was that a “great” as in, “Great job!” in the sweet, encouraging voice of a kindergarten teacher, or was it “great” that I’d just given away the key to my bank account? He looked trustworthy. I took the “great” as a compliment.
A blast of arctic air ripped through the restaurant and through my obviously too thin flesh every time the door opened. It opened a lot. Over and over again in the late afternoon as the sun began to set. It felt as if I was being slapped repeatedly. I huddled closer inside my jacket, sipped my decaf, chatted amiably, and hoped this website stuff wouldn‘t result in any more difficult tasks.
He twisted the computer screen towards me again. It was a fill-in-the-blank form. One of the questions was the ubiquitous “year of birth,” a trick question in my books.
“I don’t have to put in my real year of birth, do I?” I asked, pretending to not be self-conscious of my middle-aged status, to not being so egotistical that it would bother me that I was old enough to be this young man’s mother, that in fact, I have children older than he.
“Well…” he said, cautiously, diplomatically. “It is the one question they will ask you to confirm your identity if you ever forget your password…”
“Darn,” I said. I shielded the keyboard from my companions, protecting the number I was about to enter more guardedly than my PIN at a bank machine.
The screen swivelled back to the young man, who assured me his father was much older than me. Darn! He wasn’t supposed to look. He wasn’t supposed to be good at math.
Wait a sec. Of course, he was good at math. He is a computer programmer guy. Isn’t that like a pre-requisite or something? I drained the last of my coffee. Even small amounts of caffeine, particularly late in the day, have the effect on me that several drinks of an alcoholic beverage have on other people: I become younger, more attractive and witty. I forgot my age, my year of birth, and that stupid password all at the same time. I smiled congenially.
He turned the computer screen so we could all see, and guided me through a personalized tutorial on how to use, update and blog on my soon-to-be-released website. He click-click-clicked with ease. He showed me “how-to.” I watched as if bound by a computer geek spell. I had no idea what he was doing. Well, that’s not true. I understood what he was doing, but had little faith that once he closed the laptop and I wandered home that I would remember how he had done them.
The caffeine hit my left temporal lobe. My inhibitions vanished: “So, like, how do you keep doing that?”
His patient look told me the question was alarming in its stupidity. “Oh, this?” he asked.
“Yah, that switching up thing.”
“I just have two screens open at the same time” he said.
I nodded sagely. “Oh.” Two screens open, eh? I could do that. I was sure I knew how to do that.
He did some more clickety clacking and showing me the marvellous things I could do. All the time I was thinking, “Sure. Right. Like I’m going to be doing this myself.”
A couple of days later, back in the office, I was reviewing the website. I noticed a few typos, things I’d like to move around. I made a list. I decided it was time for my first blog post. I turned on the memory function of my brain and tried to recall what I’d been taught on that winter afternoon.
I entered a blog, exited out of the site to check and lo, and behold, like a miraculous revelation, there it was. I’d done it! I was as empowered as a 16-year-old with a drivers’ license. I looked to my list of changes, and determined that with my new confidence, I could probably do most of them myself. Although I worried about doing permanent damage, I added, subtracted and moved things successfully, and with each change, felt my sense of self grow a little more. It was easy knowing that I had a young and patient back-up system in an alpha geek named Michael. (If you are looking to build a website, get in touch with him at Mike@MichaelBlouin.ca.)
In the meantime, if you notice any weird things about my website, they are probably all my fault, but do let me know; I might remember how to fix them.