From Technophobe To Geek

It was the mid-to-late 80’s, computers were on the home front, and all the buzz was about going “paperless.”  With records being stored electronically, we’d hardly ever have to handle paper again, and several rainforests would be saved, right?  Well, that’s what we all thought, anyway.

Nonetheless, the pressure was on.  If you had a business, you needed to put it on a computer.  My husband was looking into it, but the idea of owning one of these machines was a bit intimidating to me.  I was busy enough with babies, and couldn’t imagine giving any time to learning something so new and so foreign to my entire life experience.

The inevitable day arrived.  We had an office in a small building in the back yard, and that’s where the new gizmo went.  My hubby spent hours back there, day after day, trying to figure out how to use it.  I stayed away … far away.  I was just beginning to figure out babies, for crying out loud.  What on earth would I need a computer for?

“Oh, you’ve got to learn WordPerfect,” a friend in Orlando told me over the phone.  “It’s easy!”

Easy?  OK, let’s see.

I ventured into the backyard office one day while the kids were napping, and sat in front of the monstrosity.

Hmmmm.  This looks like the “on” button. I pushed it.

This small TV-like thing called a monitor turned dark green, with a bunch of nonsensical, white words blinking all over the place.  When it finally calmed down, the words went away, and the dark green screen was blank … except for a little white dash blinking in the top left corner of the screen.

So what do I do now?  This is supposed to be easy? I pressed the power button again, watched the machine heave a sigh of relief into silence, and I did the same.  I walked away.

I didn’t come back for a very long time.  I was pretty proud of the hubby, though, figuring out this machine I had no interest in.

The next few years were a blur.  Between babies and pregnancy, I watched and listened to all this fuss over the computer.  Somewhere in the 90’s I realized enough was enough.  I felt I had to figure this technology out, or it would bulldoze me into the ground.

We got a new Acer computer, and it actually had pictures on it … a far cry from that lonely blinking white dash on the dark green screen so many years earlier.

I had so many challenges learning that computer, and spent many hours late at night … after the kids were in bed … on the phone with support technicians.  Thank the Lord for those support technicians, for they patiently abided my tear-filled melt-downs, answered my questions, solved my problems, and gave me a crash-course education in the emerging techno-world of computers.

Fast-forward a few years – I was coming into my own – doing research, writing newsletters, organizing meetings and events – all from the little office my hubby and kids started referring to as “the vault.”  I spent hours on end in there.  I would forget to eat, let my blood sugar sink, and when I finally had to emerge for Mom duties, I’d be a raging lunatic.  My family joked about installing a slot in the door of “the vault,” which they could easily pass a bowl of cereal through.  “Feed the Mom,” became their new mantra.

Fast-forward to the present.

Hello.  My name is Judy, and I’m a geek.

I spend hours tapping away at the keyboard, designing websites, writing copy, helping organizations with my hard-earned techno-talents.  Amazingly enough, the kids turned out OK.  More than OK.  They’re amazing, and I’m proud.

This afternoon the hubby came home and asked if I wanted to go to an after-hours social with his business network group.

“You mean, interact with real people, face to face?” I asked.


We went, and had a great time.  Sure, I’m a geek, but I’m thankful to have a hubby who helps me step away from the computer, to connect with real people.

That’s what it’s all about, after all.  Computers aren’t the end-all.  Love is.  Isn’t it?


7 Responses to “From Technophobe To Geek”

  1. slowdancejournal Says:

    Our first computer was an Acer and it cost about a bajillion dollars. It felt like as big a committment as buying a car. As for comfort with the darned thing I’m still fidgety.

    Techno insecurity is not common in my family. My Dad computerized the company he worked for when it took an entire freezing cold room to house the beast. He brought in PCs when they became available. Some of the guys in his lab used them as door stops. My brother grew up as computers grew up. They created a computer major at Ithaca College just for him–and he’s the guy I call when I’m losing a smack-down with my current computer.

    Computers are wonderful. Funny how they’ve never replaced the lowly sheet of paper though.

    Adrian Fogelin

  2. Diane Cox Says:

    I left the office environment to be a stay-at-home mom just as word processors were really coming on the scene in the mid-80’s. My knowledge of all the changes in technology came to an abrupt end after the birth of my first child. I remember feeling very insecure knowing the world around me was rapidly changing and I didn’t have a clue what it was all about. When I finally returned to working in an office over a decade later, the world had dramatically changed. It was overwhelming at first, but little by little I pushed on and eventually began to grasp this new technological world. Now, I have co-workers who come to ME to help them with computer problems they’re having. Once a co-worker asked if I could help him with his Outlook. Somehow he had accidentally changed some things around and couldn’t view the folders he needed. I sat in his chair, clicked the mouse a few times and returned everything as it was. To be honest, I really didn’t know what I was doing but just made a few choices that seemed logical to me and voilà! From then on became somewhat of the office “geek” myself.

    • judyransom Says:

      That’s a great story, Diane! Isn’t it funny how some folks seem to have a natural affinity toward technology, while others have an aversion to it? Some embrace it, while for others it’s a “have to” kind of thing. Thanks for sharing!

  3. My Other Zone Says:

    Judy, I guess I qualify as a geek!

    I was living in Brasil when the desktop computer made its debut. I decided I had to have one – blinking white cursor line and all. When I moved back to the States to get married, I sold my computer (It spoke Portuguese, don’t you know), and began using Tom’s old Osborne ‘Portable’. NOT portable for me, of course, because it took muscles to carry. It also had no hard drive – just two floppy ports (one for the program disk and the other for the project disk).

    My first writing assignment as a professional was a Unit of Bible study (December) for middle graders called ‘Bible Discoverers’. I had been using Tom’s computer for about a year and all was well. I printed out the first draft, made corrections and was ready to print out the final version. I put the “program” floppy into its slot, then put the “unit” floppy into its slot. Instead of the unit appearing on my screen, a little message flashed – corrupted disk? But I was a dutiful user. I had a back up. I slipped it into the slot – again the ominous message appeared. ARRRRRG!

    I tried an old floppy with a few unimportant things on it – same message. The Osborn was eating my floppies as fast as I could feed it. I had two days to get the assignment in the mail – all 350+ pages of it!

    When Tom got home that evening, he found me in the extra bedroom typing furiously (and I mean FURIOUSLY) on my old electric typewriter. When he asked why, I glared. I think I mumbled, “Your computer ate my homework!”

    He quietly went downstairs and made soup and sandwiches, brought them back up to the office, served me at my table, then picked up a stack of newly typed pages and started proof reading. Two days later, at 10 PM Tom drove me to the downtown post office (we lived in Kansas City) and I mailed my package – on time.

    The next week we went shopping for a new desk top. I’ve had my own computer ever since.


    • judyransom Says:

      Great story, Mary Lois! Those 5.25″ floppies were a nightmare. If it was me, I wouldn’t be glaring — I’d be crying my eyes out, kind of like Diane Keaton typing away her hit play in Something’s Gotta Give.

  4. My Other Zone Says:

    Actually, I almost threw the Osborne out the 2nd floor window!

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