Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Soft Squishy Part Between

I got all excited today when my friend told me she's had a palm pilot since June, but hasn't used it yet. "Oh! Oh!" said I, "I can come over for coffee and show you how to use it!" Thing is, I really enjoy helping people get comfortable with technology. I don't understand how it works at the program-building level, and I can't fix it when it's broken, but I'm not afraid of it. I love to play with computer programs and find out different things I can do with them and how to make them work. So many women in my generation are intimidated by computers, so it's really fun to help them jump in and play around with whatever it is, a palm pilot or a software application or even a yahoo account. You can't break it - it's usually created broken, and anything you do is reversible or re-doable so go ahead and use the darn thing! If it doesn't do what you want it to do, well that's proof that we still need real people, and computers will never rule the world. At work, people ask me for help all the time, but they ask in quiet voices like "pssst...I don't know how to do this...can you show me?" Never fear! Pseudo-geek is here!

I sometimes think about what I would do for a living if I didn't do the jobs I do now (mom, recreation programmer, community volunteer). Well, I'll always be a mom, and probably also a volunteer, but if I ever leave recreation work, I'd like to be a computer trainer - but not a shiny corporate whiz-bang trainer. I would be a warm-fuzzy "yes you can!" trainer. Rich ladies would hire me to come over and teach them how to use Excel or do a halfway decent internet search. Timid Grandmas would get me to help them email their grandchildren and set up their own blogs. Men and women whose offices had automated around them and left them behind would call me to help them catch up and gain confidence so nobody would notice that they weren't born doing this. Weird, huh?

In a strange way, I think this is very creative, like making a sculpture out of two materials that nobody would ever put together. Making a soft, natural fit between a technophobe and the world of micromania is an art. I like to think about being the soft squishy stuff in between the two worlds.

Question: What would you be if you weren't what you are?

mompoet - merging left and right brain with a chisel and a bag of marshmallows

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