Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Don't Go Away," he ordered.

"Don't go away: I might need you," he ordered. I had just explained to him how to use one of our tragically slow Internet computers. Like me, he was a middle aged man. Unlike me, he had the air of somebody who is used to having people listen carefully and obey. He tried to swipe his card in our fancy new card swipe thingies that you can use rather than submit to the torment of typing in 14 whole characters. Swipe. Nothing. Swipe. Nothing. Swipeswipeswipe. Nothingnothingnothing. He looked at me with a look that suggested that this technological glitch was not just my fault, but something I had done deliberately, just to waste his time, a commodity, I should have realized by then, more precious than air. I shrugged and let him know that he'd have to type it in the old-fashioned way. I received my orders to remain as he began to type in his 14-digit bar code using the time honored "Eagle Method." You know the Eagle Method. If you don't, I'll teach it to you right now:
First,forget everything you know about typing. Really. Everything. Imagine that "QWERTY" is just a random string of charaters. A computer keyboard means no more to you than a wall full of heiroglyphs. Now, stick out your index finger. Here comes the eagle part: imagine that the tip of your index finger is a beautiful Golden Eagle, soaring high above the ground, its outstretched wings catching an updraft of air that sends it to and fro, high over the verdant valley of keys. OK, little eagle, circle the valley for a while. While the eagle circles high above the keyboard/valley, find the first letter you want to type. This key is what the eagle method typists call a "Field Mouse." Your job, little eagle, is to dive down and strike the hapless mouse. Then, quickly regain altitude and begin the hunt anew. Circle, dive, strike, climb. Circle, dive, strike, climb. Repeat this process until you're finished typing or until you notice one of the many mistakes you have made, whichever comes first. If you find a mistake, take a long moment to search for the backspace key and slap it around for a while so that you can retype even the correct parts. Remember: you are unfamiliar with keyboards and are innocent of such things as "arrow keys" and "mouse clicks."
No way I was going to hang around while he performed his complex aerial ballet.
"I'll be around," I told him, and walked the eight paces back to the very desk that gives your humble DeskSlave his name. But I have to admit, he was right. I was needed. And right away. The sound of the repeated and peremptory "Hey" he emitted told me of the grave urgency. I can be machine-like, I admit. Sometimes I answer the phone with my practiced and clever "Hello this is DeskSlave Central" opener and have people say nothing as they wait for the machine to deliver the rest of the message. But, dear friends, I am not a dog, so no amount of "heys" (or finger snaps or whistles) can get me to respond. He eventually found a slightly more polite way to get my attention.
"It's not working," I was informed. A finger was extended in a dramatic "J'accuse" fashion toward the screen. Maybe it was the spaces interspersed in the number that caused the failure of our system to work the way he wanted. Maybe it was the numbers themselves, which appeared to be randomly generated. Sometimes you try to teach the man to fish. Sometimes you drop the fish into the eagle's beak, if you know what I mean. I keyed all 14 digits in for him and got it right THE VERY FIRST TIME.

1 comment:

shushie said...

Great post. Love the "Eagle Method" description, as I was totally unaware of its proper title.