I'm currently sitting on the sofa inside a hotel room of a small, cozy, not very state-of-the-art hotel in Pittsburgh. I've been here for eleven days, teaching in a graduate school program, and have two more days to go. I've just received a note slipped under my door stating that tomorrow the locks on all the hotel room doors will be switched over from old-fashioned keys to some newfangled contraption that will require a magnetic key card/thingie. Immediately, I call the hotel desk and ask if my room can be made exempt from this makeover until I check out. Apologetically, the young man at the desk says, "Sorry, that's impossible, due to our schedule."
Part of what I'm worried about is the noise. I can already hear in my mind the drilling and hammering, and my body automatically tenses, as I'm the quiet, contemplative sort. But I'm mostly terrified because I fear that either the new lock will be installed incorrectly and it won't work, and I will be alone at night when I come in from a dinner and party that I'm scheduled to attend, and the one person on duty at the desk will be unable to leave the desk to help me, and I will be locked out for hours until someone comes to relieve the night manager. Or (more likely) it will be installed correctly but I—in my klutzy, technophobic way—will not be able to make it work and I'll either be locked out or in (and since I'm also claustrophobic, I dread the thought of being locked in).
In order to survive in the modern world, I do have an iMac, iPad and iPhone, but I'm a Luddite at heart. If we went back to horses, buggies, pen and ink, I'd be happy. On my electronic devices, I do the bare minimum in order to function. I sometimes compose on Word, and sometimes by longhand (!), I send and receive emails and texts because no one phones any longer (and speaking of phones, I don't have a clue how to program my cell). My daughter keeps showing me how to use shortcuts and updates on my devices, but I never follow through.
I've always been this way, but as the world becomes increasingly technology-driven, my being technophobic and klutzy around machines and technology of all sorts is not even remotely cute or respectable. At this moment, I'm thinking of taking a Xanax, hoping that it will calm me while I await the door lock change.
When I finally joined Facebook a few years ago, I did so kicking and screaming, and I spent weeks harassing my more savvy Facebook friends about how to post texts and photos, and how to figure out the difference between my "wall" and everything else in Facebook Land. Eventually, I figured out the most basic elements, but my husband still has to help me post photos (just as he has to help me when I'm required to scan something; no matter how many times I use my scanner, it's as though it's the very first time).
I don't drive a car. I do have a license but find the mechanics of operating the car while changing lanes and avoiding pedestrians all at the same time to be maddening. By design, I live in New York City where, thanks to public transportation and easy walking, one does not need a car. Although when the subway switched from tokens to Metrocards, I needed a few lessons from my husband on the correct swiping technique.
Whenever I have a problem with one of my electronic devices (which happens often, thanks to Apple always seeming to have trouble with their "cloud"), my husband has to make the call to Apple because I can't take directions from the technician over the phone. "Move the cursor where?" I ask too many times. "Open to what setting?"
So, bravely, tonight I venture out to my social event, which turns out to be fun, and I somehow manage to relax even without the Xanax, which I've resisted taking. But I cringe when I return late from my evening out to discover the new lock on my door. I stare with dread at it until I get my courage up and head to the hotel office where I'm given my new magnetic card and asked to turn in my keys.
Reluctantly, I walk back to my room. Nervously, I place the magnetic strip of the card against the box that has been installed on the outside of my door. The green light immediately flashes. With trepidation, I push open the door. As I step inside, my heart stops hammering. I'm so relieved that as soon as I take off my coat I take out my iPhone and send a series of texts using voice dictation, something I'm just learning how to do.