A couple days ago I took a call at work from a man who had some free time set up and suddenly had something he really wanted to research, but he was having problems accessing the site. He told me he is 84 years old, and not very good with computers.
I had him start up his computer, and we went through the whole process of helping him find our site. It took about 15 minutes to get him in, but the call was really fantastic.
He mentioned at the beginning that his wife had died two years ago, and he had stopped doing research then. As he turned his computer on, he signed on. His computer password was his late wife’s name. It was really clear that even though she had been gone for two years, he was really grieving. He missed her so much. “You know, not many people are married fifty-four years and still madly in love with their wife,” he told me. It was really obvious how devoted he had been to her; his world revolved around her.
Aside from the deep underlying grief, the man was really funny. He said he’s 84 years old and not very good with computers. “I should be in the circus!” he said as he was explaining how funny he must look as he was trying to use the Internet while he talked to me. He had to hold the phone to one ear, because he was nearly deaf in the other ear and wears a hearing aid. (It buzzes if the phone is next to the hearing aid, he explained.) His computer was a laptop, so he had the computer on his lap, and was not very good at typing but was trying to work the computer with his hand that wasn’t holding the phone to the specific ear. It was all a balancing act.
It was funny how he described it, too, so I was laughing, and I could tell that he was amused by the situation too. Jokingly he said, “Stop laughing! They’ll have you on tape!” (There is a message at the beginning of the call saying that calls may be monitored or recorded.) I told him “You’ve got to stop making me laugh!” and we continued laughing as whatever page we were waiting for loaded on his computer. “Probably so,” he said, a little bit more serious. “But life’s for smiling, isn’t it.”
We talked a little bit more during the call, about how he was a pilot in World War II, and about some other things. (One other funny thing that I noticed: he was talking about his computer and said a mild swear, and he said “Excuse my Chinese.” I’ve only ever heard people say “Excuse my French” to downplay swearing. I wonder if calling it Chinese is more common in the
At the end of the call he said, “Everyone has problems, you know, and they’re best kept to themselves. But if you can make someone smile, you’ve…you’ve done well.”
I’ve thought a lot about that, and I like it. Especially from him.
People are still good.