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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NEW TECHNOLOGY....gives me a headache!

New technology makes me feel old!

Don't get me wrong, I have a computer.  I've worked my way through DOS, Windows 1.0, Windows 386, Windows XP and now, Windows 7.  I loved WordPerfect but finally gave up and switched to Word when my floppy disks wouldn't fit into any of the newer computers, although I tried darn hard!  I have more than one email account but even here I'm a little outdated...I still like the user-friendly format of AOL for my email.  I pay bills on line, keep in touch with friends on Facebook, play Pinochle with live strangers on line, sell on eBay and even have this blog.  I have a smartphone, a Kindle, a Nook and a Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE which I know how to switch from WiFi to cell in order to search the web if I'm in the middle of nowhere during a major downpour!  I know how to save data on a thumb drive, flash drive or a DVD.  Thanks in large part to having sons who guided me along the way, I know how to work all of these devices to handle most everything I need to do. But, thinking back on some of the jobs I've had in my life, I guess I have to admit that I am pretty old; in fact you could probably call me a dinosaur!

One of my first jobs when I was a teenager was at Woolworths at the corner of Broad and Market Streets in Newark, New Jersey.  Woolworths in Newark was a three story department store in those days, selling everything from hardware to women's lingerie to 45s to birds and goldfish.  Every Friday was payday and during the lunch hour we would all line up to receive a little brown envelope filled with cash (minus taxes of course).  We had real old time manual cash registers with buttons that you had to press down on really hard so that the receipt would print properly.  Since we had to count out the change ourselves, we received a full day of training to properly work the cash register and prove that we could add and subtract.

At my next job, I worked for New Jersey Bell Telephone, also in Newark, my first brush with technology.  I was a long distance operator back in the day when you actually had to plug the cords into the wall to make the connection.  I loved this job!  I always felt there was an element of poetry and elegance in doing the job properly and inserting the cord into the correct portion of the wall for the section of the country the person was calling.  If you put the metal plug end of the cord too close to one already inserted into the switchboard wall, you received a mild shock.  A supervisor stood behind you at all times, making sure the operators didn't converse with each other or chew gum.  The supervisors would also periodically listen in when you least expected it to insure that you were being kind and courteous.  Imagine that today....!  Now when you call information you can usually catch most of the conversation the operator finishes with her co-worker before he or she will even deign to greet you.

After that, I went through a number of jobs.  I was a waitress, I did cold calls for a shop-at-home carpet company, I worked as a collection clerk for a law firm that did all of the collections for the Bambergers Department Store chain and I worked in the offices of the Benjamin Moore Paint Company (stinky job in the industrial section of Newark).  All typing required in any of these jobs was done on a manual typewriter.  My next position was as a legal secretary for a small law firm and for the first time I worked on an electric typewriter....so cool!  Only problem was, no one had copy machines back in the stone ages, and legal documents had to be typed on onionskin paper in copious quantities using carbon paper.  If you made a mistake, you had to correct all gazillion copies with an eraser and then line the paper up in the typewriter again and hope you retyped the letter in the right spot.  I actually remember making a total mess of a document one day, and after redoing the entire thing, I stuffed the mangled copies under my skirt so I could throw them away in the ladies room which was out in the hallway because I was too embarrassed to throw them into my wastebasket!

Then I decided to work in New York City!  I worked as a payroll clerk for the paymaster in charge of all Seatrain and Hudson Waterways payrolls which was then located on the 27th floor of the Chase Manhattan Bank Building. That was my first brush with a totally new form of technology....the telex, which some of you may not even be old enough to have heard of.  You'd type messages to send to the ships on a telex machine.  The machine would spit out a long coded tape that was about one inch wide and miles long depending on the size of the message.  The tape would then load into another part of the machine that transmitted the message to the ship.  The one saving grace was that you could see the text of what you had typed without having to translate the braille type coding from the tape so you could catch any major errors before transmitting.  An interesting footnote about this job.  I worked here during the time of protests against the war in Vietnam. On two occasions when I arrived at work, the building security people were turning everyone away because the elevators had been bombed out by the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society).

Other jobs followed.  I worked as a secretary in the Rehabilitation Department of Morristown Memorial Hospital, ran the office for an emergency elevator repair company, worked in the office of the Morristown Senior Citizen's Center and also worked many different jobs as a temp.  I was the office manager for a Morristown architectural firm where I met my husband and then for a large law firm in Newark.  But the technology during this period remained pretty much the same.  Electric typewriters and adding machines were the tools of the day; no more counting on an abacus!

Next I took a job as a temporary secretary for Carteret Savings.  This quickly morphed into a full time permanent position as a mortgage underwriter.  That job was really fun!  Like being a detective, examining documents to decide if people qualified.  By this time we had xerox copy machines so everything was easier.  Also during this time the fax machine was introduced in offices.  Way cool, you could rubber band a typed page to a large roller and when you turned it on the roller would spin and spin while transmitting the information to a receiving fax.  Also during this time, Carteret moved us to larger offices and introduced the staff to the Nixdorf Mainframe Computer which took up about a city block of space and had to be temperature controlled in order to supply us with the simplest data on pages and pages of green and white striped computer printouts.  Remember these anyone?

Other jobs followed, but not much was changing in the world of technology, but now we were moving into the realm of HOME computers!  Our older son was the first in our family to get a home computer and it was a crazy Atari that worked in DOS.  The printer paper was pretty much the size of an adding machine tape and since Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet, the Atari really only worked like a glorified typewriter, producing very tiny pages.  Around the same time, my husband got his first portable phone; a crazy contraption that took a technician about three hours to install in George's car.  The shoebox sized phone was mounted on a post drilled into the floor of the car and if you knocked it off of it's post you better move your foot if you didn't want a large bruise!

Back to where I started and why technology today gives me a headache.  It seems that you just barely acclimate yourself to a new device like an iPad or Kindle Fire when it's replaced by something bigger or better or smaller or thinner and you're stuck with this obsolete relic.  Forget disposable diapers, I'd like to know how many computers, laptops, eReaders and cell phones are filling up the landfills?!?

This entire blog entry came about because my younger son did this drawing of me tonight when we went out to dinner.  He drew it on his over sized Samsung Smartphone with a stylus in about three minutes.  Never mind that he depicted me as a chicken in a purple coat, I was amazed by the Sketchbook X app Bill  used as I watched him switching back and forth between the sketch and a color wheel to insert the chosen hues.

I totally lusted after the Sketchbook X app, even though my Android Smartphone isn't all that smart and isn't smart enough to have a stylus.  And even though I can't draw anything that looks representative of anything except possibly a flower, I still want that app.  My Smartphone isn't even smart enough to have the flashlight feature, and though it takes great pictures, I'm not scheduled for an upgrade with my Verizon contract.

My point is that every time some new and improved technology comes along, by tomorrow or the next day, some new widget or gadget is introduced that makes yesterday's hot item look like a telex machine.  I'm just glad I have some brain cells left after the sixties to embrace some of the ever changing devices.  This is why new technology gives me a headache!

March 1, 2013 Footnote:   My husband asked me how I could have held so many jobs in such a short time. No, I wasn't hopping around from job to job like a bunny!  Having grown up in Newark, I was intent on starting a life and the best way to start was to earn money.  Most times when I was in my teens and twenties, I had two jobs, sometimes three.  For example, when I worked for the collection attorney, I also worked evenings for the carpet company and weekends as a waitress.  

2 comments:

  1. Great work Lynn,I enjoy reading all your blogs

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Anonymous, thank you! Whoever you are.

    ReplyDelete