I’m trying. Really! I am! But it is difficult for me. My father was the gadget king. He bought every new technological piece of equipment as soon as it hit the market, especially when it came to recording devices, which he used to tape (record in old jargon) every shiur ever given. He figured out how to use them with ease and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of tinkering with them. I did not inherit this gene, not even recessively. I would call myself technologically challenged. I’m always trying to keep up, but since this doesn’t come to me naturally, by the time I get it, all that I’ve learned becomes outdated. I understand that along with progress comes improved efficiency, but that’s only when things work as they should and one understands how they work, which I often don’t. Children seem to be born with this knowledge, and I imagine the day when newborns will be able to request full service from their mothers with the swipe of a finger. They will be able to place orders with Amazon in utero, with free shipping for waterproof products costing over $50. Even though I am challenged, I continue to persevere.
Let’s start with the computer. Many years ago, my parents subscribed to a newspaper that would make special mention that a Letter to the Editor was received via email. I didn’t understand (and still don’t) why it was necessary to publicize this piece of information. But I should have read the writing on the wall. Snail mail was going to become a thing of the past, and I’d better get with the program and figure out what this email is. Eventually, we bought a computer and I learned how to send email. I even learned to send attachments and forward articles of interest. I may sound like I am showing off, but I really was quite proud of myself. But that, too, became passé. Now everything happens on the phone.
The phone is a whole other story. I was happy with having a simple cell phone; but, at some point, I needed other methods of communication for work. So, now I have a smartphone and can “text” and WhatsApp. But my phone has many other features that stump me. Take photos, for example. I will show a friend some photos on my phone. But then, she will tell me that the photos are not actually on my phone. They’re in the cloud. What do you mean? I ask. What cloud?? I just showed them to you on my phone!! You saw it with your own eyes! Then I get the “I’m the crazy one” look. And don’t even start me on WiFi. Turn it on. Turn it off. Make up your mind, will you??
Let’s talk about going to the supermarket. Did you ever try to buy something when the computer is down? Impossible! But we know how much it costs. I have the money. I can calculate the change if it makes it easier for you. But, no! No computer, no purchase! I used to think people with a lot of money can buy whatever they want. But that’s apparently not so if the computers are down. Whenever I travel to the US, I feel as though I have stepped out of a cave when I go shop. For better or for worse, I have a lot of experience handing over my credit card for payment. But there is always some new kuntz. Now we don’t sign the paper receipt. Now we sign on a screen. Okay. That’s not so hard to learn. But then it quickly switches. Now we swipe our card ourselves. That’s a bit trickier because I have to figure out which way the card goes. But I try to roll with it and ignore the stares of the people around me. Whatever progress is made in the US eventually gets to Israel. Now we have self-checkout. We can even walk around the supermarket with a scanner and skip the checkout line altogether. They give you a quick tutorial of how to use it. It’s easy as pie, they say. I’m sure this saves a lot of time for people other than me. But I’m trying. I hope to be more comfortable with the scanner before the Pesach shopping begins.
Bus rides are another challenge. Now we have to buy bus cards. When I was a kid, I had a bus pass and I guess the habit of showing the pass to the driver is well ingrained within me. It took a while to remember that I have to actually put it in the machine. That’s not too bad. I just have to make sure not to be the first one to get on the bus. Then I watch exactly how and where the people before me place the card and copy them. But now that I’ve got that down, there’s something new. Now you can’t pay to refill your card on the bus. As a matter of fact, you can’t use money to pay for anything on a bus in some locations. I once offered a bus driver some money. You know, currency? Bills? Coins? He looked at me as though I had just swooped down from one of Jupiter’s moons. Then he told me to just go ahead and pay another time. Nice guy. But what’s wrong with money? I don’t get it. I was told I can easily fill my card on the app. Sure. Easy peasy.
As I have mentioned before, I like to listen to music. But that has really become a challenge. I used to have music on my phone. I mean, I don’t know if it was actually on my phone, because I now know that things that I think are on my phone aren’t really on my phone. But let’s just say that I used to be able to listen to music on my phone. I don’t know what happened. The music disappeared. If it is on my phone, it’s hiding and I really can’t find it. So just put new music on your phone, you say? Sure. No problem. It’s okay. Believe it or not, I still have a tape player and I’m able to play my old cassettes. For those of you who don’t know, a cassette tape is a compact case containing a length of magnetic tape that runs between two small reels: used for recording or playback of audio or video in a tape recorder, cassette deck, video camera, or VCR, and for storage of data by some small computer systems. I’m also able to use a CD player. All you have to do is put it in and push play. Exactly how I like it.
We just traded in our old car for a newer model. This has been quite an adjustment for me. The car is constantly talking to me with all kinds of beeps and sounds. I don’t even know what it’s trying to tell me half the time, but what I do know is that between the beeps and waze, I never feel like I’m alone with my husband in the car anymore. The CD player in our old car was broken so I was really looking forward to listening to music in our new car. I brought my favorite disc and was all ready to slide it in, but when I got into the car I couldn’t figure out where to put it. I searched the entire dashboard but found nothing. Apparently, nobody uses CDs anymore. Sigh. I’m trying. Really! I am!
Suzie (nee Schapiro) Steinberg grew up in Kew Gardens Hills. She works as a social worker and lives with her husband and children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.