80’s Technophobe


I was going to say future but it’s more a case of being dragged screaming into the ‘now’. It was a Friday evening and the emporium of earthly delights at our local Solent port was surprisingly quiet. While the café staff were eager to be shot of us the shop floor staff assured us, “Don’t worry madam, we’re here until eight”.

As my Mum and I strolled nonchalantly around the IT department I tried really hard to look as if I knew exactly what I was doing – the consummate IT professional. Yeah right, in truth I was acting more as a spirit guide to my Mum, encouraging my lovely octogenarian to walk with me in to the 21st Century;
“Of course you should get a tablet Mum. Nice and light and portable and you can shop on it, email, shop, Facebook, shop, research and…shop. It will be great!”

A sleek–haired I.T youth approached, I nodded sage like as he expounded on the infinite possibilities of the device and the virtues of the Cloud, the Intel Pentium thingy, the RAM and the ROM without appearing to inhale. Mum looked nothing short of terrified but seemed to feel much more within her comfort zone when asked what colour she would prefer. We could have done with a coffee to calm the nerves but the café had long closed so it was a quick flick to Marks and Sparks to get ‘ something for tea’.
“Just think Mum, you’ll soon be ordering groceries online”.
“Eh?” A wave of terror swept over her face.
We’ll work up to that I think.

So now, every Sunday my Mum and I can be found in our Market Town’s barn café huddled over the tablet, amazed by its ability, we occasionally are heard to say ‘oooooh’ as if we’d just discovered fire. I have learnt that my technical abilities are not that good so I’ve had to employ a useful list of phrases such as,
“Oh mine doesn’t do that. It will be the Internet connection. We’ll come back to that” – all very useful.
But while my wonderful Mum is embracing technology and is now emailing, Facebooking and using Messenger with aplomb, I have become a grumpy old woman when it comes to my current I.T Achilles heel – automated banking.

The local branch of my bank has gone West to our nearby Cathedral city and has been followed by another. The bank has had a major overhaul, ‘We’re all streamlined and efficient madam”, said the helpful young boy who turned out to be the manager. The branch now has something of the doctors’ waiting room about it, the elderly, and I include myself, sit on the stylish but ultimately uncomfortable sofas looking slightly anxious as they wait for the queue of increasingly frustrated customers attempting to use the automated machines to subside. I’m blighted when it comes to these machines, every time without fail there is always an issue no matter how hard I focus and follow the instructions to the letter.

We cannot process your cheques- we cannot process your cash- transaction, Cancelled, the machine bluntly informs me. I find myself talking to it, “But you’ve eaten my paying in slip and I’ve not paid all my cash in!’

At that point a man with a clipboard normally sidles over, “Having trouble madam?”
I want to say “yes I bloody well am! Why can’t we have our lovely branch back where everybody knew you and nothing was too much trouble!” But I run the risk of sounding like someone out of Downton Abbey, so I weakly apologise for being so thick and watch ashamed as he dexterously taps a few buttons and the whole irksome process is complete. Such is the effect on my blood pressure that I am tempted to rely on the Post Office despite the fact that clearance time for cheques is positively glacial.

There are some bits of the technological ‘now’ that render me a stressed gibbering wreck. My banking blank moments are akin to my mum finding she had eight items in her Amazon basket, and worryingly no idea how they got there, when she only wanted one. Still I’m proud of Mum for keeping up and I’ll be the one holding onto her coat tails trying to keep up!

WRITTEN BY Sandra Pagan