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Warmest regards: Instruction manuals aren’t easy reading

By Pattie Mihalik

Before I fell asleep Monday, I knew Tuesday was going to be terrible.

I knew my patience would be tried and it took everything I had in me to tackle Tuesday’s project.

I’m only doing it because I’m desperate.

And with having to stay home because of the pandemic, I can’t use the “I don’t have time ” excuse.

The daunting project I had to do was to read an instruction manual - the pathetically few pages that came with my new Apple computer.

I was forced into doing it because after my computer shut down on its own for an update, everything was changed in a major way when the computer came back on.

I could no longer save a document on my desktop. Worse yet, the column I was trying to save just disappeared. Couldn’t find it anywhere.

I had no choice but to rewrite it. When I tried to save it, the column disappeared again.

Could not find it on the desktop, in documents, or even on the cloud setting that is supposed to be saving everything.

My husband tried helping me but eventually gave up and walked away mumbling about “dumb Apple.”

I knew the only dumb thing was me. I simply didn’t know how to undo the changes to put things back to how they were before.

I had no choice but struggle through the instruction manual.

Everyone has a different way of learning. Show me something and I know how to do it. Telling me to read the instruction manual means I’m frustrated and lost.

I’ve used nothing but Apple computers for decades. Never had a problem because I always had the backing of something wonderful - the company Information technology department. For years, the IT department was located next to my office. If I had a problem one of those great guys came over and solved it for me.

Having that IT department spoiled me. I didn’t have to know about technology. All I had to do was sit there and write.

After I retired I was on my own. I never had a problem with my old computer.

Except that like everything else that gets old it decided to break down.

In my way of thinking, a seven and a half year old computer isn’t old. My computer repairman said it’s so old that manufacturers no longer offer supporting software for it.

I was forced to invest in a new Apple, thinking it would work about the same as my old one.


I had to tackle the problem of finding where my columns were going when I tried to save them.

After a full day of frustrations, a backache and pressure headache I managed to understand a little bit more about how my new computer works.

I was surprised to learn the new computer is actually wonderful in all the new things it can do. It’s head and shoulders above any computer I ever owned.

If only it came with its own information technology specialist to answer my questions.

Or, barring that, how about an easy-to-read manual.

I paid for Apple Care because it promised technical help would only be a phone call away.

But my phone call to Apple was answered by a recorded message saying because of the coronavirus they were advising people to go online to find answers. In other words, figure it out for myself.

After a full day of frustrations, I’m proud to say I solved my three biggest computer problems. I can save a story now without having it disappear.

But I have a long way to go.

Normally, if I want to learn something technical, I ask my grandkids. Like others of their generation, they were born with thumbs that knew how to fly over computer keys.

They said my problem is that I am afraid to experiment.

“You won’t break the machine. Have fun fooling around with it and you’ll learn how to use it,” my grandson said.

My grandsons love me enough not to make fun of me and my lack of technical knowledge. When Cameron asked for an “app” for Christmas they managed to keep a straight face when I said “appropriate what?”

While I’m helplessly behind the times, I don’t feel the need to keep up with the kids. I just want to get by.

Frankly, I never thought I would become a dinosaur. Or, someone that’s the bane of technical support personnel.

One tech support worker talked about a difficult day trying to walk a guy through a computer process on the phone. When he asked the guy if he was able to open the window, the guy walked over to raise the window in the room.

While I used to laugh at stories like that, now I feel compassion because I’ve been there.

One day when I wasn’t able to receive email, I noticed the account was offline, and nothing I did changed it.

I called Comcast where a “tech expert” in the Philippines said he couldn’t help me because I had an Apple computer.

It took two days but I solved the problem by doing what my grandson recommended - I experimented, trying one thing after another.

While I solved that problem, I probably created others.

I guess I just have to keep reading that darn manual.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.