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Two decades ago, I still thought computers were for the younger generation. In the early 1990s I was actually proud of myself for moving from an Underwood manual typewriter to a word processor! 

So, I was just as surprised as my friends and family when, on an impulse, I picked up the telephone and ordered a Gateway PC — complete with ZIP drive, printer, copier and FAX capabilities. What had I done? 

When the six enormous black and white cartons arrived, they filled all the available floor space in our small living room. I walked around and through the cartons for days. Then, after painfully stubbing my toe, and despite my daughter’s advice to “pay someone who knows what they’re doing to come and connect everything," I opened the first box. 

After that, things moved so fast that I had no time to question what I was doing. Based on the carefully color-coded wires and connections, plus the clearly laid-out Gateway directions, Kay and I had the entire system (including the printer) connected, and up and running, in one afternoon. We purchased “Windows for Dummies” and “Internet for Dummies,” and suddenly there was an entirely new world out there just waiting for us to log in!

At this same time, the computer industry began seriously promoting the relationship between personal computers and the older population, who had previously exhibited cases of technophobia bolstered by the old axiom, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks”. But then seniors with debilitating handicaps, who were seeking ways to communicate without writing or typing, discovered the computer’s “mouse,” which reduced the need for manual dexterity.

Now, at 83 years old, I cannot wait to log on in the morning – to get the local and national news, check my email and go to my Facebook page. Then came the black morning when there were no email messages waiting for me. I felt an instant drop in my usual positive anticipation of the day’s communiqués – where were my friends?

Without any email messages, how would I know my daughter had gotten to work OK? What about my son in Palm Springs who always sent a message when his day ended at 6:00 p.m., three hours after I’d been in bed here in the east? Where were my friends and neighbors at Havenwood-Heritage Heights who always had a “bon mot” for Kay and/or me? What about my regulars elsewhere in New England who never failed to send an off-color story or two?

It was certainly a dark day until about noon when the dam broke and in came word that there had been a glitch somewhere in the land of internet providers. An apology was issued. Thirty-two email messages were waiting for me, and once more the world turned happily for “this old dog”.

Mary Lou Fuller

Mary Lou Fuller is the author of a collection of anecdotes that reflect her views on aging with humor.

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