I thought I would share this experience with you because not only was it pretty funny but it was a learning experience for both parties. This occurred about two days ago and afterward when I was driving home, it just kind of warmed my heart a little.
My friends dad lives out in the country and was having some computer trouble. He asked if I would come out whenever it was convenient and see if I could solve his problem. His Internet connection was down and he had no idea how to get it back. Now keep in mind that he is almost 60 and is not very computer savvy at all. There was no way I could even talk him through troubleshooting it over the phone. I told him I would be glad to come help. After I arrived I found that all that was needed was to reset his modem and he was back up and running.
Now, since that didn’t take very long I offered to clean up his computer and run some maintenance tasks on it. While I was doing this he began asking questions about various things. Such as, was it okay to leave the computer on overnight, could I get some of the kiddie games off that his grandchildren put on there when they came to visit, etc. Not a problem. I also saw that he had a very old computer and made the suggestion that he might want to buy a new one if it was in his budget. He told me that he had been thinking about it for quite some time, but just didn’t know what to buy or even what to look for when he was shopping. He had no idea what was considered a good computer or how to decipher all the numbers and abbreviations that describe the technical specifications. So, I began explaining about processors, RAM, hard drives and all that good stuff. I only made it about 1 minute into my explanation when I literally watched his eyes glaze over. I could almost see the frustration and maybe a little disappointment written on his face as well. Almost as if he were thinking to himself “I’ll never understand this computer stuff”. So I tried a different approach. I kept my explanation as simple as possible and used a couple different analogies.
To start off with I told him to imagine he had a huge pile of firewood in his yard that he wanted to move behind his house and all he had to move it with was a four-wheeler. We agreed that he would be running back and forth for a while in order to get the job done, but if he had a flat bed truck, the job would go a lot faster. He could carry larger loads and it would take less trips back and forth. I started to see a light come on and eyes unglaze, so I continued. I then described two more piles of firewood in the yard. He agreed that even with the flat bed truck, his work had now tripled and it would again take a while to complete the task. I then asked him how he thought it would go if he had two more guys and two more trucks to help. He saw where I was going and the light was definitely shining brightly. I finished off with suggesting that if he had a bigger yard or a bigger shed, he would be able to store more firewood. He was very excited and I could tell something had clicked. He now seemed to understand my explanation of multi-core processors, RAM and hard drive capacity. He gave the ol “Aaaaaah” with a head nod and I knew that he understood.
While we were talking I had been working on his computer simultaneously and had reached a point where the all too familiar hourglass was spinning in the middle of the screen. My friends dad looked at it, then looked at me and said “We’re running that little feller inside there to death aren’t we? He needs a bigger a truck.” This had me howling as I laughed so hard it brought tears to my eyes. When I finally settled down I could tell that he had been laughing just as hard. Good times people, good times.
For the rest of the evening he was very enthusiastic about buying a new computer. We visited websites, looked at a bunch of different models and narrowed his choice down to three. He said he would have to check with his wife and make sure it was okay to go buy a new toy 🙂
I wanted to share this because I truly want everyone to be able to enjoy the world of computers and technology. My friends dad has a heart of gold and his southern hospitality has always made me feel welcome in his home. I was glad to be able to give something back. But it made me realize that sometimes a technical explanation is not always required. Sometimes the simplest explanation is all that is needed. Even though I didn’t describe everything in detail, it was enough for my friends dad to understand and grasp the basic concept of computers and begin to get enthusiastic about it. I’m sure that we have all experienced similar situations where the topic or task at hand was hard and wasn’t very enjoyable at all. But once someone explained it in a way we could understand, everything became more enjoyable or even fun.
I hope that this article may have put a smile on your face or at least had you giving the ol head nod as well!