OK, I admit, besides my friends, there are a few things I miss about the job. In no particular order:
- My office
- My Administrative Assistant (who counts double since I consider him a friend)
- IT Support
Up until I was getting close to retirement, I primarily used my work laptop to store files, my company email address for all correspondence, and my office phone number and my company BlackBerry to communicate. We have an iMac at home for my husband that I rarely used. At work, I had a great office, one down from the corner on the outside, with a great view of the city from the 20th floor.
I was the Queen of my technology. I had my email organized in archives by year and subject matter. My laptop files were organized such that I could find almost anything from any client, any topic, any year, within a matter of minutes. Just try me! I had the best Administrative Assistant in the office, and he took care of all my travel arrangements, created kick-ass PowerPoint, Word and Excel documents for me, finished tasks with minimal direction (because I’m convinced he is part gypsy mind-reader), and was always calm, kind and patient. When I had a computer problem that Mel couldn’t handle, we had an IT department and a help desk that I could call 24/7.
In anticipation of retirement, my husband and I bought iPhones. an iPad and a Mac Book Pro laptop. Then I started transitioning files and contacts to all our various devices.
And that’s when the trouble began. First, I tried to download scores of personal documents onto a flash drive and then transfer them to my home laptop. On first blush, everything looked copacetic and I marveled at how easy this transition was going to be. A week before my last day in the office, however, on a whim I tried to actually open one of these files and got an ominous error message. I then spent half a day furiously emailing documents from the office to home.
A few days AFTER I surrendered my company laptop, I noticed that messages in my personal email inbox (including the personal file attachments I so valiantly saved) were mysteriously disappearing after 7 days. All this occurring from my new base of operations: the den at home, with no desk, no view, with its own weather system of 85 – 90 degrees in the summer even with the A/C on and the ceiling fan that routinely blows all of my papers off the coffee table and under the futon couch causing me to constantly think I have lost my mind because I can never find anything.
By this time, the closest thing I had to an IT helpdesk was my husband. I approached him at what was apparently an inconvenient moment about my disappearing email problem and he suggested I leave him alone and make an appointment with the Genius at the Apple Store. The next day I met with Sean O’Twentysomething, the Apple Genius, who really irritated me when he didn’t just push a button and fix my problem immediately but instead schooled me about IMAP and POP and the CLOUD (as if I really cared). But not half as much as I irritated my husband when I showed him Sean’s IMAP/POP/ICLOUD drawings and told him that Sean O’Twentysomething said I should delete all our emails and start over. My husband muttered something about multiple devices and iCloud and how much easier it was with just him on the home computer.
A series of further technical crises ensued, including a need to determine how to print from the laptop in the den to the computer in the family room, my inability to print attachments from an email, trouble deciphering how Apple mail organizes emails by “conversation” (causing me to shriek “HELP ME….THE EMAILS ARE DISAPPEARING AGAIN!!!), and messing up both of our shared calendars. One morning, after I marched into the kitchen a third or fourth time to have a word with the IT department (my husband) who was in the middle of slicing apples, he said, “You sure are demanding. Were you like this at work?” And then he went back to slicing apples. My reply that I was only being about a third as demanding as I was at work and that I missed Mel who was always patient and helpful with me certainly didn’t help the situation.
In my minds eye, I saw flashbacks of my father, who retired as a Navy captain after a distinguished 30-year career. The first thing my mom did when he retired was to assign him chores around the house. Mainly to send a clear message as to who was in charge. The two chores I clearly remember were vacuuming the stairs and cleaning the toilets. My father instinctively knew that he would never issue orders again. In this moment of clarity, I too, realized that I have lost my clout in my new world order. I’m going to just have to wait my turn with the IT department, until he’s good and ready to help me, or just get used to a life of technical difficulties…or, horrors!…..start to figure things out myself.