The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

I’m always pretty casual with my New Year’s resolutions around this time of year. Maybe too casual. One of my resolutions this year is to learn more about computers and cell phones and stuff. “Learn more” may be overstating the case: “Learn something” comes a bit closer.

I remember back a bit to my first cell phone. Someone asked me: “How do you like that thing?” At that question, I whipped it out to do something flashy, like Google up a weather map, one that is sequential so you can see where the clouds were two hours ago. I did that and showed it to him.

“See?” I told him. “That’s where the clouds were.” Then I said: “And see this? That’s where they are now. Pretty neat, huh?” 

He just looked at me. Then he looked up in the sky. Then he looked back at me.

I bought a book called, I don’t know, something like computers for dummies. The ad said call if you have questions.

The book had 168 pages. I got bogged down in the Quick Start part about secure WPS, and DSL, and LAN, and CD-ROM, and WAN, and WLAN/WPS, and IP.

That was page two. But they had promised to help, so I called them.

“Hello,” said someone at their computer help place.

“I need help,” I told them.

“How far did you get,” the guy asked me.

“Page two,” I replied.

“Pretty good,” he said, “most folks call before they even open up the book. He went on to say stuff in some other language. I used the book to start fires in the furnace. It was a hard winter. It came in pretty useful.

For some reason I’ve never figured out, I hate stuff that’s so complicated that you have to follow whatever assembly or installation directions that they give you. It’s not that I won’t ask directions if I’m lost. Any time I can, I’ll flag down someone on a city street and ask.

But send me home with a vanity cabinet that comes in 34 pieces, along with a sack full of metric hardware, and directions be damned, I’m putting in screws and losing bolts in less than a few seconds. Next thing you know, not only have I lost any idea of what I’m doing, I in addition have lost the directions.

Usually a phone call is possible. “Hello, I need help.” That’s how most of these conversations start.

“Are you assembling our Number 2345 vanity cabinet, Series ABC, no longer manufactured?”

“Well, yes, how did you know?”

“We see that you visited our place of purchase less than 24 hours ago, and that you left here and went to the pizza place, where you got a stuffed cheese. Is that true?”

“Um, well, in fact, it is.” What a world we live in. It’s almost impossible to hide anything you do.

Then the voice asked: “How’s that jock itch going for you?”

“My what?” 

“Your jock itch. You did purchase the special ‘Personal powder’ didn’t you?”

“Well, matter of fact, I did.” 

“Most people,” the voice continued, “buy it for just that.”

“Wait a second. Let’s not talk about that; let’s talk about this vanity cabinet that was invented by a room full of engineers on drugs.”


Then the voice said: “Why don’t you just return that, and take a Bud Lite out of your 1999 Hotpoint refrigerator, where it sits next to that bowl of dried prunes that you won’t eat because you’re too busy searching for, well, you-know-what on your computer.”

What a world we live in.

(Learn more about the world we live in from Lindy’s book: “Who shot the dryer…”, now available on Amazon.)