Friday, December 11, 2009

The House that Technology Forgot

On Wednesday I stopped by my mother's house, just for a moment, I swore.  My mom's sick and I was bringing her some magazines, a little care package of sorts, and checking on her just to see how badly she's bungling up her medical treatment.

I promised myself I would not get roped into fixing her whole world at once, as I noticed the cacti in her front yard falling or dead but still propped up with huge slings and stakes, the ham radio antennae strung in the palm trees, and the broken locks on her front door.  No, I would stick to the tasks at hand.  Magazine delivery, medical monitoring.

My mission was accomplished, I was ready to leave.  Suddenly, Stepfather came into view.  A nice man, he's been my Stepfather now for nearly twenty years now.  The secret to their marital longevity?  Mom yells, he's deaf.

He said, "Linda, could you take a look at my computer for a second?"

A seemingly innocuous question from anyone else.  But I'm not that dumb:  this is a trap.  If eighty-four-year-old Stepfather asked me to look at his computer for a second, I might just never leave their house.   Stepfather can touch the wrong key on his computer and the power grids in three states go out.  Maybe I'm remembering this wrong, but I believe he once fixed the light switch in my mother's bathroom so that each time we turned it on, the toilet flushed. 

I gave him a weak smile, "What do you need help with?"

"Just a password."

So I went into Stepfather's lair, which is kind of his computer room and kind of my mom's sewing room at the same time.  The printer was loaded with different colored paper from every flyer that had ever been dropped off at their house.  He reuses everything.  He was reducing his carbon footprint before it even became fashionable.

The computer was not as bad as I imagined.  It was set up to make everything as hard as possible for him to find.  Kind of like if you thought books were your main reference tool and the computer was a backup for the books instead of the other way around.  I fixed the password and, I couldn't resist, I gave him a few shortcuts, and then, I was gone.

Past the broken lock, past the ham radio wires, past the falling cactus.


  1. Famous words from parent figure to child: "Could you take a look at my computer for a second?"

    When Husband and I visit our respective families, we are called upon to fix everything from the DVD player to the answering machine. Neither of us is particularly mechanically adept, but we are seen as saviors by our parents. It sounds like you fill the same role in your mom & step-dad's lives.

  2. Totally true, Kristen! Really, until I discovered eBay - a great motivator! - I was more of a chisel and tablet kind of girl. But I guess everything's relative, right?

  3. I still don't have a digital tv, cell phone or dvr.
    I would have been tempted to fix the locks.
    the cactus could go hang though.
    Your parents sound sweet, hope your mom feels better soon.

  4. You are a "good girl" Linda, and no doubt, appreciated...not sure I would have added the shortcuts, but I'm proud of you for walking by the cactus and not looking.

  5. Chris, In many ways I'm way behind the times too (no tivo, no dvr) but with the computers - up to the minute! And they insisted the door just had to be "yanked hard" and it worked. Hmm.
    Nanci, I have to draw the line at cactus intervention, right?