Last week, my mother called her cable company. She had just had a DVR installed and when the guy showed her how to work it, she thought, “This is easy. I can do this.” But when it came to actually watching a program a few days later, she had forgotten the directions. She called the service department, and Steve, the service rep, finally said in frustration, “You just scroll, like on a computer or your phone!”
The only problem is that my mother doesn’t own a computer or a smart phone. So scrolling is as foreign to her as if he’d told her to tear open the machine and fix some circuits on the mother board.
In the library, we know that, if students are going to feel comfortable asking for help, we have to meet them where they are and not judge them. In fact, at the beginning of the semester, I remind my colleagues, “Okay, by 3 p.m., it will be the hundredth time that you have helped someone print. But it’s that student’s first time. So treat the student accordingly.”
It probably doesn’t hurt that we are constantly reminded how much we don’t know. Computers and printers stop working, and we don’t know what to do. There are changes to the course management system, and we have to learn a new procedure, which doesn’t seem intuitive. So we are kept eternally humble.
Humility is a good watch word when people are asking us for help. We should remember the times that we couldn’t do something and the kind people along the way who helped us. Or if they weren’t kind, the awful feeling of being thought stupid.
And then act accordingly.
On Saturday, the skirt I ordered arrived. I couldn’t wait to wear it. In most ways, it was a perfect skirt. It had vertical stripes in blue and white. It had pockets. And it fit perfectly, no nipping at the waist at all.
I was overjoyed. Until I looked in the mirror. To say that the skirt was unflattering is an understatement. From the waist down, I looked like a whale wearing a mattress.
I decided the result was the fault of the top I’d chosen. So I took out several tops and tried each one with the skirt. Some, if I walked far enough away from the mirror, seemed to work. Then I took pictures on my iPhone. (Here it’s important to note that I have an old, very small phone.) And it appeared that some combinations weren’t so bad.
Later, downstairs, I took up my iPad and looked at the photos again. As the pictures filled up the 5X8 screen, I could no longer deny the truth: It was not the tops. It was the skirt. It was a beautiful skirt. But it was not to be mine.
I learned two lessons this week:
- There is no deception like self-deception.
- Try on a skirt before falling in love with it.
As I look out my window, the sun is shining on the dogwood trees and daffodils, and it’s hard to believe that earlier this morning, snow covered the grass. Local schools started two hours late. And people worried about their morning commute.
People have been saying that winter just doesn’t want to leave, but the season still has a week left, according to the calendar. So maybe it’s more accurate to say that we’re trying to push winter aside before its time. There is a general impatience for spring to arrive with all its warmth, blossoms, and promise of vacations to come.
But maybe instead of pushing away winter, we should celebrate its last days: Take photos of the snow sugarcoating the flowers. Enjoy an extra few days of boots and cardigans. Feel the cold air on our faces during our afternoon walks.
After all, soon it will be a hundred degrees, and we’ll be complaining about that. So for today, let it snow!