When You Teach Old Morons New Tricks

You know, I refuse to think of myself as old. I still watch cartoons and all the holiday specials and I still wave to all the blow-up things on people's lawns at this time of year- usually while yelling: "Hi Mr. Snowman!" as I drive by. (Typically followed by my husband mumbling: "Oh, Gd. We've been by that same snowman twice already today. Do you have to do that every single time?") So now that we've started this new computer system at work, I don't want to say that it's freaking me out because I'm too old to learn something totally different. I've been using all kinds of computers over the past several years, so I refuse to be put in the same category as my father-in-law who soils himself every time you tell him to plug his in.

See, this is what happened. We trained a long, grueling week on this computer system without interruption. We went to a facility and experts showed us how to use it... In July. So there were issues with the system and the rest of the summer came and went and then the fall came and went and this week with a full work schedule and hundreds of clients clamoring to be served, we finally began using the system that we hadn't seen or touched in like, five months.

I'm a pretty quick learner but I'm not trainable. I've always been a rebel and that's not likely ever going to change. (Not that I've ever tried to change it.)

So first I was given a big juicy manual for the new system and told to consider it my new Bible. My goal is to read even less of it than I've read of the real Bible. In fact, as disorganized as I always am, I knew exactly where to find the manual they gave me at the end of July. It was in the trunk of my car where I'd dumped it at the end of July. If I'd gotten a new car in the interim, they would've been out of luck. I'm sure I would've sold the old one with the manual in the trunk thrown in as a bonus.

I also can't have people hover over me as I learn. I can't look at a computer screen and think out what to do next if I feel eyes piercing through the back of my head and breath on the back of my neck (especially since all the trainers were middle-aged woman.)

That brings me to the dilemma: How to politely get my point across to them. On the one hand, they're there to help me. On the other hand, it's pissing me off that they're chiming in every second: "No, not that screen! You really don't want to do that!" or even worse, just draping themselves over my shoulder like a sari and grabbing hold of the mouse: "Click, click, up, down, across this one... There!" They're happy and I'm thinking: Great... Now what the fuck did she just do?

I tried to let my trainer down easy. The part about "pissing me off" and "draping yourself over my shoulder" somehow didn't sound professional when I practiced saying it out loud to myself. I thought about saying: "You need to go somewhere" or "I think Stacy is having an issue. She's way on the other side over there." I finally settled on: "If it's okay, I do better figuring stuff out by myself. I'll call you over if I get stuck. But I really appreciate your help. I do. I really, really, really do. Gd Bless you and yours." I don't know if that was the right thing to say but I achieved my goal: She left.

The first day of this fiasco was my long work day, my 12 1/2 hour day. Imagine having no clue what you're doing for 12 1/2 hours. (Then again, some people have no clue their entire working life.)

At noon, they sent me out for a lunch break. I told them: "If I were you, I'd make me eat in the employee lunch room and block the entrance while I'm eating. You might want to keep someone posted at the window too... especially the one that faces the parking lot."

By 3 o'clock, my brain was like the first parking lot at the state fair. I told the woman who was helping me: "You can keep talking, but there's not another inch of space available in my head."

By 6 o'clock I said to her: "You know what? It would just be easier if you set me on fire."

So finally around Thursday, I realized that really there were two things at play here that we needed to conquer: 1) Knowing how to use this new system and, what actually was the much bigger hurdle: 2) The Trauma. We all spent so much time running around and freaking out like a bunch of morons: "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, we're lost! We don't know what we're doing. We'll never know what to do! This is all different! We've never done it like this before! There are dozens of people waiting and I'm taking lunch later than usual, and where's the printer now and what if I never get this and what if there's nobody to help me?!"... It took us a good four days to realize the new system is so easy even morons like us could use it.