Monday, April 02, 2007

Old School

Supergirl and I are under siege (siege, I tell you!) by the woman in the office next to us. She's a reading teacher and also happens to be a Purveyor of Utter Pointlessness. Some of you may have thought that title was already taken by me, but surprisingly, you'd be wrong.

Purveyor is about 100 60 and doesn't know much about computers. She never married and doesn't have kids (oh hello, worst fear of my life, glad to see you're alive and well) and I think that's contributed to it, as singleist as that may sound. Obviously there are exceptions, but I just think that a lot of women of that generation seem to have become well-versed in computers because of their husbands and kids. For example, my mom knows about computers because my dad is techy and taught her everything, I'm sure waiting patiently while she sighed and swore and kickboxed the air around her out of frustration. And while she was really only motivated to get on email when I left for college, now she communicates with everyone that way and even runs her little volunteer organization online. So without the influence of my dad and I, I could imagine that she would be among those staring suspiciously at that glowing box in the corner wondering what it wanted from her and why it was looking at her that way.

Anyway, back to the Purveyor. She's really nice, just, well, overwhelmingly ditzy. First she asked me for computer advice and when I deferred to my dad, she came back and asked if she could trust his recommendation or if he only suggested it because he makes a tiny profit off of every Microsoft Office for Teachers that Amazon sells.

She'll wander into our office sometimes and just smile. Supergirl and I will take turns dealing with her depending which one of us is busier or unwilling at that moment to accept a world with the Purveyor in it. Then she'll ask a question like, "So if I want to write a letter on the computer, how would I do that?"

"Okay, well, you can just open a document and..."

"A document?"

The other day she told me she was having trouble sending an email. Turns out she wasn't in her email, she was online and typing in the email address where you type in a website. How was she planning to write the message? With her mind?

I don't mean to be impatient, but you cannot say, "Open that folder" without her saying something like, "You mean touch it twice, right? Or once? Or do you mean click?" I mean, I work with little children. This sort of thing shouldn't be infuriating to me. AND YET IT IS.

Today it was this, which came about because she was there and I'm making chicken marsala for the first time tomorrow night.

Me: Do you know what marsala wine is?
Her: What? Who?
Me: Marsala wine, for chicken marsala.
Her: Oh! I thought you were asking me about a student with the last name Marsala.
Me: No, well, I was just wondering if it's a cooking wine or a wine-wine.
Her: You're wondering if you need it to make chicken marsala? That would make sense. Marsala.
Me: Oh yeah, well, I do need it, as it turns out. It's in the recipe. I was just trying to figure out if I can buy it at the grocery store or if I need to go to a liquor store.
Her: That's a great question! You're so cute! You've probably never even been to a liquor store.
Me: I have, actually. I'm almost thirty.
Her: I love chicken marsala!


Liz said...

Purveyor of Utter Pointlessness? Damnit! If she's the one I will have to return my crown and sash.

There is another breed, like a cousin, of the PUP. It is the 53 year old woman in the office who thinks she knows EVERYTHING there is to know about the computer and constantly tells you how to do thinks. Like open a document. By clicking twice. Argh!

Well-written post. Quite enjoyable!

steve said...

Welcome to my world! Although I must say... the users I support are a little bit better with computers than The Purveyor.

Funtimes, funtimes.

Jaek said...

That woman sounds like a cup of coffee.

I like chicken.

That's my mom.

I'm hungry.

Is it 6:30 yet...I have to go take my Geritol and go to bed.

Email dot com.

Is it the Internet or the Web?

JAXTER said...

Isn't education great? The more I teach - the more I wonder about some of the people I have taught with and how they are actually capable of imparting information - currently my group of colleagues is A-OK.

kate said...

I'm laughing so hard. I heart the elderly and mentally enfeebled.

David said...

Do I suck because your post made me feel better about my meager PC skills? I think there's a German word for that, but I can't spell it.

Darren McLikeshimself said...

I like chicken marsala too!

You can buy the chicken marsala wine at the grocery.

Married Jen said...

Yeah my mom would have been screwed, too if it hadn't been for me leaving for college and my dad being (not) patient w/ her! She used to refer to her usage of the mouse as "scraping" and "dragging".

And I would definitely take the 60 year old ditz over the 60 year old know-it-all who hates life and has a bad attitude that I used to work with.

Single Jen said...

I've got an lovely lady in the cube next to me that talks constantly and never ever works. Her latest conversation was about her 15 yr old daughter's period. Because I REALLY want to hear about that.

Paisley said...

Holy shit, there are no words.

I feel for you, Red. I really, really do.

Lola said...

The Purveyor is why teachers get shot. And yes, you should get Marsala at the packie.

stefanie said...

OK, first of all, Purveyor of Utter Pointlessness is my favorite title ever. Not one I want to hold, mind you, but favorite nonetheless.

Second, I don't think you can blame singlehood and childlessness (whew), as my mother eventually learned to use a computer not because my dad encouraged it (he actually still won't touch the thing) or because of me, but because of her job. So the real question is, what has the Purveyor been doing for income the past 20 years? I would be amused to hear some suggestions about that.

And finally, just in case this comment isn't quite long enough yet, I actually am very familiar with a training company that could help Purveyor out. You know, if that's something you would seriously want to suggest to her. (If so, let me know. For probably obvious reasons, I'm not going to say any more about that in this forum.)

MiMaw said...

You're so cute when you're angry!

LC said...

I love it!

'That would make sense. Marsala

The most awesome time was when I had to teach my boss how to log on in his computer. Or the amazed look in his face when he found out we had 'So many places to store stuff!' (shared drives).

What do you do then? Smile politely, I learned.

Fast forward five years, he got another position in January, and he visited the other day and very proudly he said 'Lily, I know how to send attachments with my e-mails now!

I felt like a proud mama.

abbersnail said...

In grad school, I was my professor's teaching aide. A big part of my job was giving her computer help, and boy, did she need it. She'd call me up in a blind panic, yelping into the phone that the computer had crashed. I quickly learned that it was simply easier to go back to school and to her office and reboot her computer for her. The best part? On the front of the computer monitor was a sticky note from her previous aide: "Professor: on the side of the computer is a button that looks like this (picture of button). Next to it, someone has written 'reboot.' That is what it does." I *really* wanted to take that sticky note with me when I graduated!!!

Joe said...

Utter pointlessness inspired by david's comment, courtesy of Wikipedia:

"Schadenfreude" is the title of a song in the 2004 Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q, sung by characters Gary Coleman and Nicky. The song features the line: "Happiness at the misfortune of others? That *is* German!"' Schadenfreude is described as both: "Happiness at the misfortune of others" and "People taking pleasure in your pain".

(That's right. Sung by the Gary Coleman character.)

metalia said...

Oh. My. Lord. You have thee patience of a...very patient saint. That is too funny.

metalia said...

Gah! THE patience; not "thee." I can spell, I swear.

Killer said...

Ahhhh, she thinks you are all innocent and pure.
Don't ruin her perfect little world. She is probably telling all her friends about that cute, red-headed angel she works with who is just like her, when she was younger.