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Computer Class

Racing across the parking lot at the public library, I look up and see broken clouds. I’ve seen them before, but today I really see them. I pause and take a photo.

It feels like foreshadowing of what is to come. Lord, help me.

On entering the library, I head for the computer room. I’m five minutes late. (I did not add extra minutes for the road crew and a long line of cars.)

Everyone looks up as I enter. A room full of white-headed seniors like myself. The teacher continues her thought and says she’ll get me a computer.

I signed up for two basic classes. The first class was helpful, so I’m back again.

Everyone in class is busy, searching for their emails on public computers. Three of us forgot our passwords, or we had made them so hard they are impossible to remember. But we just didn’t think to bring them with us. Next time: eyeglasses, car keys, passwords.

“This is exactly what happens in the motel or when we are on someone else’s computer, when we are trying to access our own emails,” the teacher says. So three of us model what not to do.

I smile. Good teaching method.

Knowing I won’t be able to use the computer for this class, I think about leaving.

I did not bring my password and cannot use the computer, so will I waste the 40-mile, round trip? No, that would be going against myself.

I dig in. I’m staying. I need to learn this stuff from Mars.

People on the other side of the table are doing great with emails. It’s my side that’s struggling.

I grin and tell the people on my side of the table, “Bye. I’m going to the other side.”

“Yes!” The teacher invites everyone. “Come over here and observe.”

Not only am I going to observe, I’m a note-taker. I can try what she’s teaching when I get home if I write it down. I’m surprised no one else is taking notes.

Okay, I find out that I am spoiled at home. I just click on what is familiar, and the computer is up and running.


She moves from one desk to another like a bee with flowers, showing one after another how to get rid of unwanted files with a click or two. Magic! Like waving a wand!

The woman across from me is now sitting beside me. She looks at her computer and says, “I am so stupid.”

I am quick to say, “We are older but not stupid. I know my way around a kitchen and a flower bed. I do not feel stupid there. When I write prose or poetry, I do not feel stupid. I drive a car and don’t feel stupid. I grandparent just fine. But with computers, I feel broken, rough around the edges, and fear I’m going to mess up.”

I could not be quiet.

“We are not stupid. We have just not been taught. Nor have we had opportunities to learn like our children and grandchildren. Today, we are here. That says something about all of us.”

Suddenly, I am glad I did not bail.

The teacher does not respond to my comments except to say she feels stupid in the kitchen.

She continues on with showing options, how important F1 is if you need help, gears, folders, when to click on the white space, storing emails, when to not open emails.

My pen scribbles the information.

At one point, my teacher tries to pull up her own email to show and tell. She says, “I’m stuck. I cannot remember my password!”

I laugh. I love it and say so. “You are making us feel normal and good.”

At the end of class, I tell her how I’d sat under a lot of good teachers and a lot of bad ones. She looks at me. I say, “You are one of the good ones.”

She thanks me and adds, “I was thinking about discontinuing these classes. Maybe they are worth the trouble and frustration.”

If you get old and still want to learn something, you’ll find others like you in the computer room at the library.

Broken in some ways, making new beginnings in others. A brave bunch.


Pat Durmon

P.S. I am FOR those with a little age on them.

Grateful for comments and shares. Thank you.

Photo of broken clouds taken in front of the library in Mountain Home, Arkansas, by Pat Durmon, March 23, 2018.

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