I don’t mean to be a jerk, part 1

Dinosaurs roaring at each other.
What big teeth I have.
Several weeks before Christmas, my aunt sent me an oddly worded text message, “Hi. I need your email so I can send you and mike somewhat of an informative form to fill out and send back please.” It had that stilted construction that makes you think of someone who is not a native english speaker using something like google translate to compose a message, almost, right? Like from a phishing attack.

So for a second I wondered if my aunt had gotten malware on her phone or something. I sent back a message asking if she needed both our email addresses or just mine, along with a comment about our weather and asking how hers was. My intent was to make sure that she had meant to send me that message before I did anything else. When she answered she said never mind, she had found the information.

About a week later I get another text message, again asking for our email addresses so she could exchange wishlist information. So I sent her our email addresses. When a week went by with no email messages from my aunt, I asked mom if my aunt was all right, because usually she’s quick to reply. Mom said, “yeah, she told me she’s looking for your Amazon wishlists.”

So I pinged my aunt again, and this time got a quick, “Can you just send the Amazon addresses, please?”

I replied back with “www.amazon.com is Amazon’s address (ha ha).” Then said I’d email her the links to our Amazon wishlists, and see if I could figure out how to send them as text messages in case the email address I had for her was out of date.

Despite the fact that some of my friends tease me that they don’t know which of my email addresses are good, I haven’t changed email addresses as many times in the last 25 years as my aunt has in the last two. So I have to admit that at least part of my motivation for being a bit of a smart aleck in several of the exchanges was the fact that the email address that I sent her has been my address for at least seven years. If I search my archives for her addresses in that time, she’s changed about a dozen times.

And the email address I sent her, which she has used in the past, is “{My real first name} . {My real surname} @ {service provider everyone in the world has heard of}” Whereas her email addresses have been things like “cheerio295 @ {fly-by-night company #1}” or “starkers14 @ {fly-by-night company #2}” or “HotMama1940 @ {infamous spam site #1}” or “cheer_e_oh_3 @ {free webmail client everyone has heard of}” There is a pattern to several of them, but none are easy to remember.

I understand that the reason she’s changed so many times is because she does things like forget her passwords and she can’t quite complete the password recovery routine for various reasons, or her computer gets so infected with viruses that the only way to get it working again is to format the hard disk but she never has backups and then can’t figure out how to connect to her old service, or those various cheap/free service providers go out of business, or she becomes convinced that the service provider is the source of her computer woes so she switches to one her friends are all moving to, and so on. And most of those are an outgrowth of the fact that she doesn’t understand the technology, doesn’t believe she can understand some aspects of it, while simultaneously being absolutely convinced that she does understand it and doesn’t need any help.

And I know that while for me it is easy to remember some email addresses, for her all of them are just gobbledeguck. So it isn’t fair of me to expect her to be able to remember my address every time that her contact list is wiped out because she can’t resist clicking on and downloading every single thing that promises her cheaper this or discounted that or free the other. It’s part generational, part aptitude, and part priorities, I understand.

It’s not as if technology doesn’t do weird things. For instance, my husband keeps getting emails from some of our friends about five days after they are sent. So he’ll ask me if I saw a message that just came in from so-and-so, he’ll start to read it, I’ll say that I read it days ago. He checks the sent timestamp, looks at other messages in his inbox, and can’t find any reason why it didn’t arrive until that day. It doesn’t happen with every message from those friends.

But I still find myself rolling my eyes at some people a lot. I console myself with the fact that they probably are just as bewildered or annoyed by things I do.

As the great philosopher Didactylos once said, “Things just happen, what the hell?”

2 thoughts on “I don’t mean to be a jerk, part 1

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