Tunnel Vision

B83E6E9E-B35F-4C9D-859B-3E87DFCFA5D0It wasn’t a lack of effort. I was trying really hard but still couldn’t see it. A small text box on the top right corner of my screen. I was on the phone with my son and he was helping me fill in a code which would get me a thirty percent ‘first timer’ discount on a purchase. It was my first time, which was precisely why I qualified for the discount. The frustrating part was that it was my first time of online shopping ever, not just on this particular website.

Its not that I haven’t tasted the convenience and the competitive pricing of home shopping. It’s just that I never did it myself. I would send my wish list to my daughter/ son who would do the rest. I, thus reaped the benefits without the bother. With my fifty fifth birthday edging close I had set some targets for myself, cyber shopping being one of them. I was determined to be self reliant, at least for my shopping needs when I went over the hill…..

As my son’s exasperation grew I debated doing what I usually do. Post him a screenshot in which he encircles the deceptive ‘character’ lurking in some corner and sends it back with an eye roll emoticon and some snide comment about my tunnel vision. Before I could make this offer he said that he would order the merchandise and hung up. Like always, I worried that someday I might make him roll his eyes so far back in his sockets that the blacks will disappear altogether.

For a person who has been using a computer for quarter of a century my knowledge of it is painfully inadequate. Mostly because I use it as a typewriter which allows mistakes, a readily available encyclopaedia and a handy video player. After the call ended I decided to look more carefully. How difficult could it be ? So I scanned the 9.7 inch screen pixel by pixel and came upon a ‘support ‘option. Now my training from the days of Wordstar 4.0 have taught me to stay away from help and support offers. Its like getting stuck in the marsh. The more you try to climb out, the deeper you sink into the muck.

Going against all that I had learnt on those sleepy summer afternoons more than two decades back I gingerly pressed the support option and a dialog box appeared. I was asked to type my query as clearly as possible. I half heartedly wrote out my question to no one in particular. I wasn’t expecting a response but Swati appeared almost instantaneously.

She asked which email ID I had used to place the order, flustered, I typed it wrong. Without blowing a fuse she nudged me in the right direction asking me to confirm it and I realised my mistake. That sorted, she tried to help me spot the elusive text box and when I couldn’t, she offered to call. As she courteously ‘madam- ed’ me we discovered that I was on the wrong page. Then she respectfully, patiently, walked me through the process, reassuring me that what had happened wasn’t unusual….a nice way of saying that I wasn’t unusually dumb! Rid of the fear of ridicule I got it right. The process felt easy and intuitive as my son had always claimed. Transaction completed I told Swati how kind and courteous she was vis-à-vis my own progeny. She graciously shrugged it off saying she was just doing her job.

So it all seems perfect. Readily available, round the clock support without derision and sarcasm. A niggling thought has been bothering me though. Will that be one reason less to call my children and hear their voice?

( published in the Open Page of the Hindu on 4/3/2018)

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12 thoughts on “Tunnel Vision

  1. Jacqueline colaco says:

    Shake hands dr. Ji!
    Same boat…
    Excellent piece of writing too!
    Jacqueline colaco

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Haha….wasn’t it called ‘same pinch’
      Glad you could relate to it
      Gladder that you wrote to tell me so

  2. Abhijit says:

    Hi Manju,
    Read your piece today.
    Awesome, Entertaining, Emotional.
    Really enjoyed reading it
    Thanks for writing! And wish you luck for your upcoming endeavours.


    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for you appreciation….I am glad you could detect the emotion . I write a blog. Do visit sometime ALifeExtraordinarilyOrdinary.com

  3. Sunita Singh says:

    Good Manju.
    Our generation (read most of us ) are afraid of pressing random buttons on gadgets. And that’s why we do not learn quickly.. keep it up. Next step is..

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      You are right Sunita….we just do what we have to do….quick in quick out…it would help if we paused and looked around. I am trying to keep it up…let’s see where it takes me

  4. Shelja jain says:

    So closely can we all relate to it Manju.Specially the last line..should we really reduce the dependence ..
    the chance to …

    You are really Gifted with words and expression

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks Shelja…I was a little worried that the last line may go unnoticed…I was wrong…..seems my readers really read!

  5. Rishabh Khantal says:

    Mam,the ending was just masterstroke.Throughout the article you played it your own way and in the last over you just nailed it

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thank you so much.. that is such a huge compliment….I am so glad you noticed the last line…I worried that it would be lost….

  6. M.R .Srinivasan says:

    This ‘ honest confession ‘ in the narrative really does ,more than just ring a bell ,in me . The trouble and the embarrassments recounted despite long and reasonable familiarity with basic computer handling over a decade long period would invariably strike a sympathetic chord with almost anyone
    and I found myself too as no exception.
    As all testing moments for anyone end on a brighter note, by trial and error, I too got it right at long last , as evidenced by my online bought amazon-stuff sitting smugly on my shelf since a couple of days ago !

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for writing in. And am glad that you could relate to my story

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