Comic Belief: Keep It Simple

It’s easy to feel stupid these days.

I watched “Jeopardy” on TV and didn’t know any of the questions to the answers, and it made me feel stupid. So I watched “Wheel of Fortune” instead, and then felt stupid just for watching it. While watching “Wheel of Fortune,” I noticed that I still haven’t programmed my VCR — I got it for Christmas in 1991. I worked on that a while and made some progress. Now it’s not flashing 12:00 anymore; it’s flashing 4:00. There is nothing good on TV anyway. I should’ve known that when I hit the TV remote and the trash compactor came on. I have 46 channels and nothing to watch. It seems like the bigger the screen, the worse the TV programming is.

I don’t have time to relax anyway. My staff told me that I have to get on the information highway. I feel like road kill on the information highway. I was educated differently. In my day, a classroom was high-tech if it had an electrical outlet. Now I’m surrounded by techno-wizards. One guy in my office comes in, holds his watch to the computer screen, and it programs his schedule into his watch. I’m his boss, and I don’t know whether to look into his eyes or talk to his watch.

I have a brand-new computer. It’s powerful — it has RAMs, MBs and more buttons to push than I’ve ever seen. I imagine it as a big TV remote, and I’m in control. This is great. It’s so powerful that I can fly into cyberspace. I’m ready to begin my journey from the dirt road to the information highway.

So I sat down and looked at all those keys, and I didn’t know how to work any of them — not one. They say that when all else fails, read the instructions, so I started reading the instruction manual but discovered that it’s in a foreign language — I think it’s called Nerd Latin. There were no jokes, no pictures, and no color-by-number illustrations. I discovered a phone number, so I called a techno-wizard to help me. You know the sequence: “If you need so and so, press one,” etc. I waited until I got the right menu and it said, “If you are an idiot and have a brand-new computer and don’t know what any of the keys mean, press 666, or email us at our website,” I closed my eyes and pressed the numbers and saw myself arriving in cyber-hell.

I heard a pleasant voice. This is how the conversation went: “Have you even booted up?” “No, I just have some loafers.” “Do you have new windows?” “No, but we did paint the old ones a few years ago.” “Are you in the DOS command?” “No, I’m in my office.” “Then you must be working under windows.” “No I’m over by the wall, actually close to the table if that makes any difference.” “Do you have a mouse?” “Sir, what does the animal kingdom have to do with this?” From there it went to name-calling. I think he called me a Yahoo. I hung up, but I didn’t give up.

My staff told me to start with email. I had to learn to communicate, so now I read email. It’s really easy. My secretary downloads my email, pushes print, and it shows up on my desk on a piece of paper. I think I’ve figured out email. Email happens when you let a pigeon into cyberspace. He carries the message from one website to another. Hence the term “web.” Now these cyber pigeons can’t understand English because they’re animals. The only other animal they understand is a mouse. So you have to have a cyber mouse to communicate your message to the cyber pigeon, and you have to know how to open windows so the pigeon can get out into cyberspace. Of course, the more pigeons you have, the more (bytes) you get.

Personally, I like living on the dirt road. It may not be high-tech, but it’s simple. Never mind that I require at least three other people working on their computers so that I can have informational power; that’s not the point. The point is, I like things simple. I’m a bottom-line kind of guy. I guess that’s why I like the gospel — it’s simple, but it’s powerful. In a sense, it’s like my office: Someone else has done the work.