Computers … The New “Indoor Plumbing”

Computers are the new “indoor plumbing,” at least in the sense they are gadgets that started out as a luxuries and grew into absolute necessities. I am a writer, so I need some method of putting words on paper. My handwriting has become illegible…even to me…so another way had to be found to accomplish this goal. I no longer have my Remington typewriter (and wouldn’t have the patience to erase or white-out errors), so what was a luxury (the computer) has now become an abject necessity. Therefore, as a twentieth-century man trapped in a twenty-first century world, I’ve given in and allowed “indoor plumbing” into my life.

A few weeks ago, my computer began sending signals it was ailing. In fact, it underwent an “out of body experience,” meaning that it died for a short period. It did not share with me the wonder of that happening, so I don’t know whether or not it encountered the electronic equivalent of the “bright, white light,” but it certainly left me fretful and feeling exposed. So I decided to buy another computer and use the ailing machine as a backup. After all, it only costs money, right?

Wrong. My machine was delivered last Tuesday afternoon, and I went over to pick it up Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. to discover it has other costs…time. I haven’t done a lick of writing since Tuesday night until the moment I started this post. And were it not for two angels named Larry and Joe, I’d be more of a puddle of quivering jelly than I am. Neither of these gentlemen look very angelic, but appearances can be deceiving. They volunteered their time and efforts to get my new device (a Dell Inspiron One in all 9 GB, 1T HD, 2305 with a Windows 7 platform and Office 2013) up and running. For you neophytes let me explain those technical terms: It is a computer; it looks pretty sitting on my desk; and it does what it needs to do. That’s as technical as I get.

Reality set in early (and hard) right after I arrived at Larry’s office last Wednesday morning to find Windows was telling us they had 121 updates to install before we (read Larry and Joe) could do anything else. One-hundred-twenty-one updates translates into three and one half hours. Even then I was too obtuse to see what was headed down the pike. Larry and Joe likely began the morning thinking they were dealing with a halfway intelligent individual, but they were rapidly coming to revise that assessment.

“What’s your default driver, Don?”


“You know, Internet Explorer, Modzilla…that sort of thing.”

“Well, I usually use AOL.”

(A well-hidden sigh of exasperation.) “Yes, but who do you use to drive that.”

“I use that little circle that’s colored red and green and yellow.

“You mean Chrome?”

“Yeah that’s it. Chrome. Or it could be Google.”

“Chrome is Google.” (“You dummy” was inferred).

Next we engaged in a game I call “User Names and Passwords.” I’m sure it’s a game, but I have yet to figure out how you win it. Of course, I was of no help to our team. My passwords were back at home, and who can remember that many secret codes?

“You don’t store them on the Cloud?”

I quelled an urge to ask what the “Cloud” was and shook my head, suspecting that my standing with these guys was slipping fast. This was confirmed when I offered to buy lunch for the three of us.

“Not really a lunch kind of guy,” came the reply. Translation: “I wouldn’t be caught dead in public with you.”

But I’ll give them credit. They suffered through a bunch more “I don’t knows” from me and eventually sent me home with the computer around 5:00 p.m. I don’t believe the expressions on their faces said “Dummy” any longer. They read more like “Dolt” and “Dodo.”

Of course, there were more fiascoes once the thing was plugged in and sitting on my desk, but that’s enough for today. While I have no problem exposing my ignorance and ineptitude when it comes to things electronic (and mechanical, when it comes down to it), I’m not interested in convincing everyone I’m totally useless. After all, we each have a purpose in life…even if it is to serve as a horrible example.

In all seriousness, thanks so much to those two guys for working so hard for me. If it wouldn’t embarrass them to be associated with me, I’d tell the world their last names. As it is, they’ll remain Larry and Joe, two unlikely but genuine angels.

Thanks for reading.


Donald T.