Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Help Desk Sandwich

Those of us who have achieved a certain level of chronological advantage are constantly being reminded that we are members of the so-called sandwich generation, i.e., we are being called upon constantly to help with aging parents, and young children or grandchildren. In my case it's true, but there's a flip side. I'm often calling on them to help me. Lately many of my calls for help - both incoming and outgoing - seem to be of the 'geek squad' HELP DESK variety. My mother (who at 84 is on her way to becoming very computer literate) always has a new question about how to do some thing or other. In her case, our calls often spend as much time on learning the vocabulary of hard/software as actually going through key-strokes. It once took me 15 minutes to realize that when she said "plug" I was seeing that apparatus at the end of a power cord that plugged into an electrical socket for energy. She was seeing the USB connection she had knocked out of the back of the PC which she was vacuuming ! On the other end of the spectrum, I find myself calling my children for assistance on technical stuff, whether it's computer related, or has to do with a variety of ever-emerging electronic gizmos, gadgets, or online opportunities. They are often quick to point out that something or other wasn't really aimed at my "demographic." I despair of ever being able to navigate Facebook. Even my 8 yr old grand-daughter knows how to get around a computer as well as I do. At the age of four, she assured us we could 'text' on our cell phones even if we were out of range to make a verbal call!! Digital photography and up/downloads are something we're all still trying to manage. Scanning and editing are the expertise of my two youngest sisters, while electronic calendaring (is there such a word?) is my sister Mary-Ruth's forte. I'm the one who gives everyone advise on web pages and blogs -- why can I master those and not Facebook I wonder? Each of us has a specific software expertise. And fortunately, each of us has a specific non-geeky specialty. I love calling MR for advice about music, flowers, Missy about books and needlework, Cheli about collecting, travel and books. Mom of course, is the all time champ for family history, baseball, and staying up-to-date on seemingly hundreds of cousins. I still call her for recipes, hints on how to get out stains, when to plant roses, and general 'pass down the generations' advice. My kids call me all the time to ask for answers on a variety of life's little (and sometimes even medium sized) dilemmas. Although I consider myself very competent and independent, I tend to make 'help-desk' calls to friends, siblings and business associates much more since I moved to Maine--I suspect it's as much to do with human contact as with finding information. Google just doesn't want to listen to my weather reports or my jokes.

1 comment:

  1. Your reward for helping me yesterday, is the ER book about Mother-in-laws. Abby said that I could pass it on to you. So as soon as I get it I will mail it to you along with Grandma gets laid.


Welcome, thanks for stopping by. Now that you've heard our two cents, perhaps you have a few pennies to throw into the discussion. Due to a bunch more anonymous spam getting through, I've had to disallow anonymous comments. I try to respond to all comments posing a question, but may not always get to you right away.