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Front Page » March 11, 2008 » Opinion » Press the any key for a good time
Published 2,416 days ago

Press the any key for a good time


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Sometimes we all do dumb things.

Okay; I don't mean to paint you with the same paint brush that I paint myself with.

Sometimes I do dumb things.

Take the time that I was learning to use a computer; you know back in the days before peaches had fuzz and Julius Caeser was the new kid on the block.

I was learning to load programs onto my first computer at a job I had in the early 1980's. I know that many of our readers don't even remember a time when there weren't any computers in offices, but for the baby boomers (and those older than us) we do remember that time.

My kids often have asked me how we got along without them. Well, we just used a couple of highly technical devices called pens and pencils. Some of us even had typewriters.

Anyway that day I was installing a new program on my work computer, which at the time was an IBM machine. We didn't have windows, we had DOS, which in fact we still have except it has a bandage over it called Windows.

The program ran, I punched the appropriate keys at the appropriate prompts and then I reached a stopping point.

The screen said "Press any key."

I looked down at my keyboard. There were keys that said insert, delete, end, enter, shift and numerous other commands. But I didn't see a key that said "any."

I sat there for a moment thinking about the situation and then did what any good manager would do; I called over my secretary to tell me what to do.

She looked at me and then she started to laugh. She had to sit down she was laughing so hard.

Then she reached over and hit the J key, and the program moved on. I looked at her.

"That was the J key," I said. "How can that be."

Now she was laughing harder and couldn't even talk.

Then it dawned on me. It dawned on me like a ton of bricks falling on my head from a great height. The "any" key was just that; any key.

I felt as dumb as one can feel. Then my secretary went out into the office and told all the other secretaries in the office about it. They all laughed too. You can always tell how much of an idiot you are by how hard people laugh at something stupid you do. That day I ranked right up at the top of the scale.

It wasn't my finest moment, but then probably not the worst either.

I remember that when I was a kid I was riding my bike down the road looking at the local scenery, trying to judge how fast I was going based on the passing trees and weeds. I rode right into a telephone pole and landed on my head.

One time when I was about eight I got a stop watch from someone for some occasion that has long been lost in the grey material inside my skull. I decided I wanted to see how long it would take for bag of rocks to fall from the peak of my dads garage to the concrete below. I got a ladder, put up a hook and hung an old onion bag (you know, the mesh kind) from the hook. The hook I used was one of those ones you hang coffee cups on in a cupboard. I then proceeded to climb up the ladder and put big rocks, one by one, into the bag. Once filled, the bag probably weighed two hundred pounds. I had tied a rope to the bag to pull it off the hook. But then I had the problem of how to click the timer while trying to pull the rope. So I went to the neighbors and recruited this kid about four years younger than I was to pull the rope. I stood near where the bag would fall so I could see it release, but as much as he pulled it wouldn't come loose. So I reached up and grabbed the rope with one hand while the watch was in the other. The bag swung and then the little hook I had attached to the garage tore the fabric, and rocks came pouring out. One of them hit me in the head, another knocked the watch out of my hand and smashed it on the concrete.

Newton had nothing on me.

But the biggest idiotic thing I ever did almost killed me, and I was a full fledged adult when it happened. I pulled a car I owned up my driveway and heard something dragging behind it. The car was old and it idled kind of fast, but that was okay as long as you were careful to put it into park when you got out of it. I thought I put it in park as I slid out of the seat but actually I put it in reverse. As I wandered around the back of the vehicle to find the noise it started to follow me down the driveway. I ran to the side of the lane and noticed I had left the drivers door open. With the car going at a fairly full trot I tried to hop in to stop it but within a few feet it started moving too fast for that; I got one foot on the floor boards and fell down. Luckily the door knocked me out of the way onto my head as the vehicle, in reverse, ran the protruding door into a cherry tree. This in turn had enough force to turn the car to the right and then it drove through my barn and into a wall. Needless to say, to this day the door doesn't work quite right and the smashed in back fender is a reminder of my ineptitude.

So maybe the miserable "any" key incident over which I was teased continually for months, wasn't my best decision, but at least I didn't endanger my life or limb.

Of course that and many other bad decisions over the years could be attributed to all the times my head was involved in the above, as well as other, less glamorous incidents of poor judgment.

I think maybe some of us should wear a protective helmet all the time regardless of what we are doing.




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March 11, 2008
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