Back in my day as a university student, some twenty odd years ago, everything was paper based. I read from textbooks that were heavy as bricks and thick as the tree trunks they were made from. I would read, highlight and put sticky notes on printed papers. I went to face-to-face classes where lecturers would drone on and lull me into deep sleep. The only technology I owned was a computer that composed of a microwave-sized monitor, a hard drive that took an age to wake from sleep mode and a bunch of floppy discs. Yeah, yeah… I’m old.
These days everything is cloud this or zoom that. While I wouldn’t call myself a tech noob, I’m not tech savvy either. Learning as a mature-aged student on cloud campus is challenging. Not so much that I can’t use the technology but rather I’m not used to this form of learning. Reading off a screen for large amounts of time and using software programs to take notes seems foreign to me. It doesn’t seem right, like eating a carb-free burger (i.e. burger minus the bun). Push comes to shove I could do it, but do I really want to?
For one of my research units, I have to write a literature review. What’s that? Don’t ask me, I still haven’t quite figured it out yet and it’s due in just over a week. All I know is that it involves a lot of research of journal articles, reading said articles, note-taking and then writing something. I’m at the reading stage and I’ve found reading small print on a screen difficult for my already deteriorating eyes. So tonight, I decided to drive to the university to do some printing at the library. I think printed papers are the way to go for me. It’s a shame a few more trees will perish as a result, but if it means a pass…
You know what’s different about being a mature-aged student? You don’t have the same misplaced confidence and care-free attitude as the average twenty something year old student. But most importantly, you don’t have the same time pressures. As a mature-age student, you’re likely to have work, family or life commitments that takes priority. So by the time I got to the library, it was getting towards closing time.
It didn’t help that I have poor night vision or that I drove around in circles looking for the University multi-level car park. Eventually, I found my way to the library using their app. I still can’t believe how advanced things are these days – fancy app and everything!
I managed to find a computer, figured out how to print my articles and located the printer to collect the prints. The only problem was half way through its mammoth print job, the printer spasmed and died. Flashing red lights appeared and I thought I saw smoke billowing from the vents.
Now, most people can follow instructions and figure out simple troubleshooting problems by themselves without too much difficulty. I however, got nervous when I heard an announcement over the speakers saying they were closing in fifteen minutes. I started panicking and fumbling around trying to find the source of the printing problem.
When I saw the side profile of a dude in a blue shirt with a tie and wearing a name badge walk past, I called out “Hello, do you know how to fix printers?”
Unfortunately, he replied with “Nuh” and walked off. You see, he couldn’t have helped me because he was a security guard and not a library administrator. I might have noticed the difference had I not been in such a flustered state but then again, being observant has never been my forte.
Slightly embarrassed, I went to the front desk in search of a librarian for help but they were closed. Beyond the desk were some admin rooms and I could see the silhouette of two men. With nothing to lose but my printing, I called out for help.
“I haven’t been at uni for a long time, and I didn’t want to break your printers so I thought I should ask for help.” You know how I ramble when I’m nervous? Well, you can bet that I did a massive word vomit.
The young man who came to assist looked at the flashing words on the printing screen and said (quite condescendingly) “It has instructions so you just have to read and follow it.”
I bet if I could mindread, he would have thought “These bloody boomers and their moronic IT problems!”
And I would have vehemently protested with “I’m not a boomer, thank you very much!”
Was it a surprise when he couldn’t fix the “simple” problem? No. Did I feel slightly vindicated that he couldn’t “follow the instructions”? Yes.
He gave me a shrug of the shoulders, told me to reprint on another printer and get a credit from IT the next day, then he went home.
Annoyed and determined not to be beaten by a stupid printer, I attempted to give it another crack. Seriously, how hard could it really be? If I could put together an IKEA product (those things are brutal), I could fix a stupid printer. And did I fix it! I stuck my fingers into its body like a field surgeon removing shrapnel and pulled out the jammed paper. I might have done a fist pump and yelled out “Oh Yeah Baby!” too.
The point of this story is that if I had taken a calming breath and refused to allow my anxiety to consume me, I would have been able to use my problem solving and critical thinking skills to deal with the printing problem.
Imagine what I could do if I didn’t just cave to this beast at every whim and used higher level thinking instead? Most likely, I wouldn’t have asked a security guard to fix a printing jam.
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