When it comes to technology, I’m the classic village idiot. About the only thing I know how to do is turn on a gadget, and that doesn’t always work. So, when I was in the market for a new laptop, I decided to take my children’s advice and purchase one they termed “user-friendly.” Not only did this company offer classes for the challenged consumer, but also my children would be relieved of my incessant questions.
Sitting in the crowded Apple Store, I nervously pulled out my latest toy from its fashionable neon-pink carrying case and anxiously awaited my first one-to-one training session.
Within minutes, a 20-something youngster sat next to me and introduced himself as my tech consultant. But as we shook hands, his good-looking face began to shrivel up like a ripe plum in the hot August sun. Apparently, the child screaming next to us was damaging his concentration, as well as his eardrums.
“I’ll never understand why people insist on bringing their kids in here,” he hissed with disgust.
“Hmm, obviously not the kid-friendly type,” I thought. “But as long as he can get me rolling on this sucker, I’ll forgive his flawed character trait.”
Refocusing on the issue at hand, he asked in a deadpan tone, “What do you want to know?”
“Everything,” I answered in a singsong voice, smiling coquettishly. His dark-brown eyes narrowing into slits, he seemed to dissect every feature on my 60-year-old face (all with noticeable revulsion), as his body language screamed, “Oh, God, not another one of these idiots!”
“OK, maybe not everything,” I interjected quickly, fearful he’d leave before we even got started. “Just teach me the basics. What am I supposed to do with my fingers on the mouse pad?”
“That’s how you want to start?”
“Yes, teach me that,” I replied, excitement building as I trusted we were finally getting somewhere.
Curling into a pose resembling Rodin’s bronze statue “The Thinker,” head bowed and hand resting under his chin, he sat mute for what felt like an hour. Finally, he was ready to speak.
“Can I make a comment so this will be more productive?”
“Of course,” I said, happy to be accommodating.
“Don’t tell me to ‘teach’ you. I loathe that word. You teach dogs, not people.”
Aghast that a simple request created such a volatile response, I searched nervously for a different approach.
“Ah, OK. Would you show me?”
“Please?” he added, for extra-condescending measure.
As a child, I was taught to be polite, no matter what the circumstance. Fearing I offended this man/child, I internally shut down and went on a vacation for the next 45 minutes. His vast knowledge fell on ears clogged with wet cotton.
But later, as I walked to my car, the humiliation I’d felt transformed into an emotion I often prefer to smother – anger.
“How can teaching be interpreted as a bad thing?” I wanted to scream. “The fact of the matter is that you are a teacher, mister! And it’s because of inept women like me that you have a job in the first place.”
Then, taking a moment to calm down, I realized that somewhere there was a lesson in all this. While I’ll never be able to control the human side of anyone as it gets the best of them, rather than letting it destroy me, I’ll seek to forgive.
After all, he or she is the challenged individual, not me. All I can ever do is lead with my heart and leave my ego at home.