I don’t feel like I’m being dramatic when I say that helping your parents fix even the most minor computer problem over the phone is the most frustrating experience of your life. It’s incredible how difficult even turning on the computer can be when you can’t see their screen and they have no idea what to describe to you. If you’ve never had to do it consider yourself lucky, but for the rest of us, this is way too common of an experience.
You: Hey, Mom. What seems to be the problem?
Mom: We are trying to look at the wedding pictures your sister emailed us, but it’s not working.
You: Hmm, what’s on your screen right now?
Mom: It’s blank.
You: Is the screen not working?
Mom: I don’t know.
You: Move the cursor around. It may just be in sleep mode.
Mom: You mean the mouse?
You: Yes, Mom. I mean the mouse.
Mom: I did and nothing happened.
You: Wait, is the computer turned on?
Mom: No, does it need to be?
You: Yes, Mom. In order to see the pictures in your email, you will need to turn on your computer.
Mom: Well, I didn’t know. I’m not a computer expert.
(You rub your face and bite your tongue because you know this is going to be a nightmare.)
Mom: OK, it’s on.
You: OK, click on the email button at the bottom right corner of the screen.
Mom: I clicked on something else I think.
You: What did you click on?
Mom: “Sons of Anarchy” is playing now. Did I do something wrong?
You: You opened Netflix. Close that.
Mom: Maybe I need to watch the video before it’ll open. Like it’s an ad.
You: I promise you don’t have to watch a sponsored episode of “Sons of Anarchy” before you can check your email.
Mom: Do I pause it?
You: Just close it. It doesn’t matter.
Mom: It says: “After seizing control of its town, gun-running motorcycle club the Sons of Anarchy soon butts heads with rival biker gangs, racist groups and the law. Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman … Genre: TV Shows, Crime TV Shows, TV Action & Adventure, TV Dramas … This show is: Gritty”
You: Mom, you don’t need to read me the Netflix description of Sons of Anarchy. Just close it out.
Mom: OK, I’m just making sure.
You: Making sure of what? That Ron Perlman doesn’t have the wedding pictures?
Mom: I closed it. You don’t have to get so upset.
You: I’m sorry. OK, so click on your email. It’s the icon at the bottom that looks like a stamp with a bird on it.
Mom: Why don’t they just write “This Is Your Email”? Because that would be easier.
You: I don’t know, Mom. Just click on it.
Mom: Why is my background like this?
You: … Like what?
Mom: It’s just weird. I don’t know how to describe it.
You: Mom, I don’t know what that means. What is it doing?
Mom: It just seems odd.
You: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Mom: Well, if it messes up, just know that I told you about it.
You: Mom, you said it looks odd. How in God’s name would I possibly be able to fix something that you can’t describe?
Mom: I’ll take a picture of it.
You: Yeah, that’ll work actually.
Mom: How do you send a picture on this stupid phone?
You: Just click the picture and click message.
Mom: Seems like a lot just to send a picture.
You: Oh God – please just send the picture.
You: Mom, your finger was over the camera.
Mom: I didn’t take it with a camera. I took it with my phone.
(You can feel the rage building and a cup of water next to you starts shaking like that scene in “Jurassic Park.”)
You: Please. Just listen to me. Click the email button. The pictures will be there. I forwarded you the email as well, so I know it’s there.
Mom: Hmm, well this is a problem.
You: What? What is the problem?
Mom: Well, you sent me the email and so did your sister, so now I have them twice.
Mom: I don’t want them twice. How do I fix that?
You: IT DOESN’T MATTER. Just look at the pictures.
Mom: You know what? I’ll just have her print them out for me since you can’t figure out this computer stuff.
Mom: Thanks anyway, though!
(She hangs up.)
(You sit motionless, holding the phone to your ear for 5-7 minutes while your eye begins to twitch. A single drop of blood drips from your nose.)