The Wonders of Technology

“Guess what?” my father said, sounding like a little kid with a secret he couldn’t wait to tell me.

“What?” I asked, still half-asleep even though it was nearly 9AM.

“Larry set it up so you can log in to my computer!  From anywhere!  Isn’t that great?”

This, indeed, was news worth waking up for.  I’m unofficially my father’s computer consultant.  Every year, before his store opens for the season, I go to Mom and Dad’s house and sit at the computer with my father looking over my shoulder as he dictates to me the changes he wants made on the price lists for each store. When I set up the initial documents years ago, it took hours and my patience was gone by the end of the process.  I left in a huff.

In subsequent years, another store owner gave him his take-out menu and Dad wanted me to create one just like it.  Easier said than done, but I did it, again leaving in a huff after hours spent learning the mysteries of combining text and images in a Microsoft Word document.  Why did the sundae flavors keep hiding behind the picture of the sundae?  Why were the columns of Blizzard flavors not lining up correctly?

The bigger mystery to me was why I was the only one that could help my father with these tasks.  I didn’t live at home.  In fact, he had two other children living in his house that knew just as much about this stuff as I did – if not more.  But they didn’t have the patience to sit with Dad. Dad doesn’t have that kind of patience himself.  More likely, my siblings were just smart enough to not get themselves involved.

So I made trips home from Boston each year – a week or two before the stores opened – to edit price lists and menus with Dad.  Five years ago, when I moved back to my hometown, the trip was only 15 minutes as opposed to three hours.  My skills and patience increased and I created Cake Order Forms, Phone Lists, and Ice Cream Count documents.  I rarely left upset with him.

But here I am in North Carolina.  I won’t be home before the stores open.  But have no fear!  No, the sister that lives in the apartment over their garage is not taking my place (you’re welcome, Meg!).  I’m coming to Dad – virtually.

Larry, Dad’s accountant, got the technology to log into my father’s computer to look at his Quickbooks.  Dad’s brain got to thinking and he asked Larry if there was a way I could do the same thing.

So this morning, I spent a record one hour on the phone with Dad, editing price lists and menus for the 2012 season.  My father told me the changes and watched on his computer as I opened the documents, did the changes, and even printed everything right to his computer.  He was impressed.  So was I.

Not 15 minutes after I hung up with Dad, my mother called.  “You did price lists with Dad this morning I heard.  How are you doing?” she asked.

“Fine,” I said.  “We finished in record time.  Did he tell you how well it went?”

“Yes, but I wanted to see how you were feeling,” said my mother, having witnessed my frustration of earlier years.

“I think it’s actually getting better each year,” I said.

“I still don’t understand why you have to do it,” she said.

“I don’t know either.  But I’m fine with it now.  And with this remote control thing, I don’t feel so bad that I’m thinking of moving to North Carolina after my travels.”

“You don’t have to feel bad,” she said.  I know.  But I’m the only one of the five of us kids that’s not living within two hours of Mom and Dad. I am blessed with a family that kind of likes being with each other.  Technology isn’t the same as being there.  But it sure helps.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Glenda says:

    My husband worked from home. He was connected (Networked) with the office in the plant in south Georgia.I think that is a marvelous part of technology.
    Many people are able to work miles from their office because of this technology.

    Perhaps you did not feel as pressured this year because Dad wasn’t looking over your should watching every move you made.

  2. Linda Garrity says:

    Very sweet! As a girl who is probably more in the age group as your parents (or perhaps even a bit older-yikes!), who were educated b/f computers for home or school even existed, it is extremely frustrating to have to play “catch up” with today’s technology. Our first home computer (one of the very early Macs) was in our home for two years before I was even brave enough to touch it; finally, I got “Macs for Dummies”, opened to page 1 that said, “Push this to turn on”, took a deep breath, and took off from there. Over the years, I have taken classes or taught myself (much along the lines of your frustration about text boxes and graphics, etc.) just about everything I know. As the school where I volunteer, I made up little projects for myself just so I’d be forced to teach myself something new. Many of my friends think I’m quite knowledgeable, but I find the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know but want to learn. Some days I feel that I’ll never be able to feel extremely capable and confident about all of it.

    Our two sons both graduation from college with business degrees, the second marketing and IT, but whenever I have asked them for help with any troubleshooting or update problems, they look at me like I’m crazy, tell me they’re too busy, or when they deign to help me, they click everything so quickly, I can’t even tell what they’re doing, they roll their eyes, sigh disgustedly, and act so insulted when I tell them I wish they would slow down and let me learn from them.

    We do have a “computer guy” now, who has the same ability as you describe to work from his home on our computers remotely; the first time I witnessed him doing it, I just couldn’t believe it! Yes, technology is a wonderful thing….

    Shame on your siblings for not taking some of the burden from you; despite your frustrations, kudos to you for continuing to help your parents, especially traveling such distances to do so. Beyond all that, the biggest gift in all of this is your continued patience with them; it is such a difficult quality to hone and perfect, but such a sign of maturity and grace to possess.


    1. Thanks for your comment, Linda. There is certainly a learning curve when it comes to technology. Kudos to you for learning what you can on your own and getting help when you need it!

      I do want to clarify one thing. I didn’t mean any negativity toward my siblings, and want to apologize to them if it came across that way. We all have our gifts and one of mine happens to be patience and computers and my ability to combine those to help Dad. My youngest sister not only works at the store two nights per week, but makes the schedule, and is the first person called when there’s a problem at the store – all this while holding a completely separate full-time job. My brother, too, works at the store as needed. He also helps Dad with all the outdoor work at the house. I am blessed to have a family where it’s recognized that “fair” doesn’t mean “the same.” We all do our part, and recognize each others gifts (most of the time!).

  3. Linda Garrity says:

    Thanks for the clarification-I didn’t really take it that your siblings were slackers, but see how what you wrote may have come off sound that way.

    My husband is one of six; not all of them do their fair share of family matters (ironically, “the slacker” is the priest, but in an Irish Catholic family, priests seem to get a bye on any responsibility!) but of the ones that do, they also have their area of expertise. Compared to the complete dysfunction of my own biological family, it all seems to work out.

    I love that you’re an experienced couchsurfer and love it; I heard about it a few years ago from a friend and mentioned it to my adventurer son, but he’s only done it rarely. I admire your adventurous spirit and look forward to following your journey.

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