Traveling With Technology

As we, two older women, approached the United Airlines ticketing counter to check our bags and get our boarding passes, I was initially disoriented. Instead of the long lines I’m accustomed to, I saw only a handful of people, and I didn’t see any ticketing agents behind the counters. Had we come to the right place? Had I misread or failed to see the signs for ticketing as we walked from where we had dropped off our rental car?

I approached the automated kiosk and fumbled to get the piece of paper out of my purse that had the confirmation code to access my reservation. But as I did so, an airline staffer must have seen or sensed our confusion. Or maybe he was trained to spot old people who are technology-hesitant, who take too long to answer all the questions on the screen and thus slow down the whole system. He quickly pushed all the right buttons on the kiosk, efficiently wrapped our tags around the suitcases and took them to the conveyor belt, handed us the printed boarding passes and sent us on our way.

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Bite My Coin

I know there are fellow baby boomers who embraced each new technological marvel as it came along: the first primitive computers, the first BlackBerry phones, the first digital cameras. But I’ve resisted technology every step of the way.

When the newspaper I worked for in the 1980s started replacing our manual typewriters with computers, the management decided the best way to get its employees comfortable with this new technology was to teach us in the comfort of our own homes. I felt pretty confident after listening to the tech guy go through the whole system with me, but after he left I couldn’t figure out how to start the computer on my own. I was so frustrated that my impulse was to throw the computer through the front window.

I eventually got comfortable with computers—I had no choice—and even started to appreciate that they made writing and editing easier; instead of using white-out and pasting (with glue) strips of paper over mistakes, I could do that with a few keystrokes.

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