A colleague of mine, back when I worked for a company that made banking software, once told me how the company’s product didn’t always perform as expected. In the middle of one particular sales-demo, in front of a room full of people, she found herself, as she described it, Blown all the way back to the C-prompt. “My hiney-hole was puckered up tighter than this,” she said, holding up her hand with the index finger curled into a little ball.
Impatient, frustrated, exasperated, and downright angry. Yep, essentially a two-year old.
One thing I’ve noticed about computers is that they can, in about two minutes, take me all the way back to a childlike place of totally irrational behavior: impatient, frustrated, exasperated, and downright angry. Yep, essentially a two-year old.
So what’s going on here? How is it that I, a normally logical and rational adult with a decent amount of smarts, can come unglued so readily when a computer won’t do right? I suspect it relates to one of my childhood-created strategies for survival: I have to figure everything out—myself.
I was the third child in a family destined to trudge through some serious shit on the road to happy destiny. The long and the short of it is that I was not spoken to much as a child. The world is a bit tricky to sort out as it is, but it can be downright frightening to make sense of on your own.
With my Helper-hat on, I ask myself, “How old do I feel right now?” To which I want to stick out my tongue. So there.
So when that little box-of-logic doesn’t work right, I don’t default to slowing down and getting curious. No, I tend to come unglued and lose my grounding. Like a lost and anxious child, I have found myself on the phone with the help desk, finding it hard to use my words. With my Helper-hat on, I ask myself, “How old do I feel right now?” To which I want to stick out my tongue. So there.
Recently, I found myself caught in a phone war between GoDaddy and Verizon, each offering their logical explanations for why the problem with my website must lie with the other service. I had to coach myself to breathe, reminding myself that they were there to help. If I could just stay rational and sane, they were going to help me get through this. And eventually they did.
Today, I spend enough time not in that immature child-place, to recognize it when I find myself there. Much of life, in fact, is about learning to come out of these trance-like states that we snap into so fast, when something unexpectedly blows us all the way back to the C-prompt.
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