Hello there readers. Today I’m going to tell a little story about a conversation I had with my grandfather about how he uses computers and other pieces of technology. It took me a little while to be able to speak with him in person about all of this, but I knew I wanted to “interview” him because I believe he is in the minority for his age group. He has quite a liking for all things technical (as does his son, my father.) Both of my parents are extremely computer proficient, and I have grown up around my father building computers and my mother selling them through contracts with government departments throughout the state. (JHCollier Computers!) So, I wanted to expand my horizons a little bit.
To give a little perspective, my grandfather, who goes by “Papa Jack”, is 95 years of age. He served in the air force during World War II, and has traveled all around Europe. It seems as though he’s certainly lived a full and adventurous life; however, he rarely talks about those times. Even though I do not know much about that part of him, I like to think it makes up a lot of who he is. When I was much younger, I remember my dad bringing Jack a computer, printer, and other pieces of machinery to keep in a designated office area at my grandparents’ house. Jack was, and continues to be a deacon for his church, and the time of the email was nigh. He needed to print handouts. He needed to be connected to his fellow church leaders outside of telephone calls. IT WAS TIME.
As I spoke to him recently, I asked him how he felt about all of this stuff coming into his office all at once. He recalls the year being around 1997. He told me he was pretty excited, but it was overwhelming to look at all of it. He thought the things would be smaller. He also mentioned that he thought the monitor was the entire computer, and when my father placed the computer on the desk, he asked, “What’s the box for?”
As the years passed, he slowly gained knowledge about the programs on his desktop. My grandfather has an email address he uses for church correspondence and keeping in touch with family. He is able to produce word documents and professional letters. He can very quickly look up what he needs to find on the internet. Jack was never in any hurry to have the newest piece of technology, however. He used floppy disks until just a couple of years ago. (I remember seeing these everywhere around his house, growing up.) His absolute favorite past time on his computer is playing solitaire. “What kind?” I asked. “All of them. Any kind I can get!” he animatedly replied.
I asked my grandfather what type of program he mostly uses on his computer, besides his games. He said probably email and Microsoft word. But when he teaches Sunday school he uses the Notepad feature to type out his thoughts, and then copy and pastes it into a Word document to polish it from there. I couldn’t help but think that was an extremely clever way to use those applications, especially for someone with quite an age gap compared to me. A notepad for rough drafts and quickly taking notes, and then using the more tailored app for making it presentable. Just as he would have done before computers with an actual notepad. Learning these habits from my grandfather made me proud that he embraced technology and uses it for his needs, but doesn’t really seem to stress about what he does not need. He learns at his own speed, and my dad is there a lot of times to answer questions or to help install something new. They make quite a pair.
I pushed him more to talk about email. He told me he does not really see the need for attaching anything most of the time, but he knows how to do that. Papa Jack also admitted that he sometimes has to copy and paste his emails into a word document and increase the font size to see it better. This was an opportunity where I got to show him how to do that within his email/ web browser, and I was happy to do so. He laughed and said he may or may not remember how do use it in the future, but thought it was a nifty trick. This exercise showed me that sometimes people just enjoy their own routes in figuring something out– even if it isn’t the most efficient. I’d say at 95 years old, someone who knows their way around the basic technologies we use today is doing pretty well.
Keep reading and learning, forever and always,