Shannon Bardwell: Computer dummy

March 20, 2010 9:19:00 PM

Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]


I know I''m too stupid to have a computer, and I really don''t care; but if I want to keep one finger in the world I have to have one.  


I just read about Lewis Grizzard and how he used an old-fashioned typewriter for all his stories. He talks about being in Minneapolis at the seventh game of the World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins when his ribbon jams. He frantically looks all around at his buddies using "Star Wars" computers, and he knows they''ll be no help.  


It''s after the sixth inning when he finally gets the ribbon going again. For a second he thinks he''s going to have to write his column in longhand. I''m not sure how he submitted his articles because I''m telling you, if you deliver a typewritten column you might as well have brought your editor some peanuts and Cracker Jacks for all the good that''s going to do you. 


In 1994 I handed in my first paper in my second round of college at the W. My professor, the affable Professor David Smith, looked agog and asked, "Did you type this?" 


"Yes Sir," I replied. 


"On a typewriter?"  


"Yes, Sir." He immediately enrolled me in a computer course. I got to skip "keyboarding," since I already knew how to type. After class I went to the teacher and said, "Ma''am, I''m reading the book, and it''s different than what you are saying in class." She pertly explained that by the time the book was printed it was already out of date but that we had to buy them anyway. That explained my confusion. 




Assistance, please 


In order to do anything at all on my computer I have to take it to my personal computer wiz, Kara, at the Starkville Public Library. I''ve known her since she was a child spending her afternoons shelving books. Her home-schooling mom did a good thing; she raised her children in the library. Kara went away to college for a library degree and flew right back to the library like a homing pigeon.  


Her dad is in computers so she grew up playing on the floor with computer parts. After she updated my e-mail program, installed my camera program, which I don''t use, and various other maintenance things, I brought it home. I tried to connect to e-mail but it wouldn''t. I frantically called a perplexed Kara; then realized I hadn''t plugged in the phone thing. Ha ha ha ... Kara was nice. 


So today again I''m feeling like an airhead when I have to return a computer part to Dell. My Indian technician and I figured this square chip was what I needed, but it turned out to be a part for the computer my step-daughter had eight years ago.  


Dell e-mailed a return label, but I couldn''t get the thing to print. I kept hitting "print." Now I have six labels that won''t print, so I turned the computer off. I''m wondering if I can draw those little bar codes with a sharpie and make my own label. Then I realize the printer is on but not plugged into my computer. When I plugged the printer in, it printed half the label but stopped because my computer was off. It worked out OK though because I still had five more labels waiting in line when I turned the computer back on.  


I don''t know why I thought I could order a computer part when it would be like telling a mechanic, "I''ll take one of those carburetors, please." Then thinking I could take it home and install it on my car. Why is there no shame in not being able to fix your car, but you feel like a dummy if you can''t figure out your own computer?

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.