Operating Instructions

by Alissa

The other day I found the note below on the black box whose name I don’t know, but which I would like to call a VCR, in the living room of the friends’ house where we are staying in Montana.

Since then, in a limited fashion, I have learned how to operate the internet machine/TV/stereo wonder-monstrosity-unit almost as well as I can ride a horse, thank you three days of riding camp+concussion at age 16. Disclosure: I haven’t had any kind of TV since we borrowed a junker to watch the last winter olympics. Before then, aside from a few months of sublet living with cable, we had been happily living without a TV for years. When we pass the acre of flat screens at Costco, I reflexively close my eyes and aim for the display of cashews and roasted almonds on the other side.

Secretly, I really like television. But I don’t like that I like it, so I will ignore it as much as possible, especially if it’s not a DVD of Arrested Development or Downton Abbey. Ace is in charge of making all movies go. He prescreens them for me, even, so I don’t waste any sleep time on mediocre shows. Sigh. I miss him.

It is not that I’m opposed to technological advances in general–I just do not like how learning to use or not learning to use the unending surge of new devices leaves people [me] feeling incapacitated and slow. Because of this and a few other reasons, while Ace streamed a documentary on the Amish for me on Netflix a while ago, I decided that I would have fit right in.

I want to reject all of these machines and screens for simpler more wholesome tools, however, lacking a tribe of co-workers to populate the homestead and keep us all fed, I have been turning on Sesame Street for the tot so I can get some work done.

Here is the note:

Sticky note for using technology

Steps four and five I know I will need repeated to me often in the coming weeks. Adjust Volume to Desired Level. Relax and Take a Deep Breath.

When I found it, I thought, I need this right now. Then I thought, I will need operating instructions like this all over the puzzling objects and unfamiliar places and new situations my life in Australia will hold. Then I wondered, are there sticky notes in Oz?

If you see someone leaving a trail of yellow squares throughout Newcastle in the coming weeks, it will probably be Ace, for me.