Location: Provo, Utah
So I get to my gate in Phoenix yesterday to catch my flight to Salt Lake City, where I am headed to give a presentation, and my name is called. It was actually a unique butchering of my name because apparently it was all in the computer as one name, including my middle initial of u, so I approached thinking it was probably me and we had a good laugh about how my name is actually pronounced. I then continued smiling as I was handed an upgrade to first class. It is not a long flight (the one from Charlotte to Phoenix was much longer) but I had work to do and knowing I would have a luxurious and comfy space to get it done was a relief. Then a few minutes later, just as I am presenting the upgraded boarding pass to board the plane, a man approaches the counter. It appears it was his first class seat they had given away to me and … they yanked it back! I was annoyed because the gate agents shouldn’t have given it to me in the first place – something they did not seem to understand – and I settled into my new/former seat grumpily.
My grumpiness continued to fester as I tried working on my PowerPoint presentation for a medical conference talk I am due to give next weekend in Florida. I was trying to insert some slides with text in between the photos, something Hannah and Eliza did for me for another PowerPoint presentation I worked on over the holidays. But without my tech crew available for consult, I was trying to figure it out on my own. And I was failing. I have my skills. I am good in the kitchen. I am good at word games. I can parallel park like nobody’s business. But I suck at technology. I have never mastered PowerPoint, always muddling through or seeking the free tech support I had under my roof, and none of it feels instinctive or easy to me. I was making text boxes only to have them disappear or be uncooperative and the sound I imported for one of the slides (that took me most of the previous plane ride to do) now had text on it I didn’t want. Arghhh.
I turned to the woman sitting next to me, with whom I had not exchanged any pleasantries because we had both been working and keeping to ourselves, and asked if she was tech-savvy. “Not really,” she said. “What do you need?” I told her I was trying to figure out how to add some slides to my PowerPoint. Her face lit up. “Oh, I know PowerPoint!” she said. I guess to non-Luddites, PowerPoint does not qualify as technology. It turns out that she uses PowerPoint all the time for her lectures as a healthcare professor at Arizona State University.
In ten minutes, she gave me a fabulous tutorial on how to do what I needed to do with the PowerPoint and fixed all of my issues (…with the PowerPoint). She was patient and there was not a trace of How do you not get that this command does this? that is often present with the assistance I get from my regular tech support crew. While discussing the slides and what I do, she disclosed that both of her parents are fighting cancer. Fortunately, both are doing well, yet another testament to the strides we have made in detecting and treating cancer. I also learned that she was headed home to Provo, Utah and commutes to ASU. She flies back and forth for some lectures but teaches many of her classes online, something she is able to do thanks to all this technology I find so bewildering and frustrating. We talked about how difficult it is living in Utah, where she and her wife moved so that her wife could pursue studies in a Physician Assistant Program there. I found myself regretting that I had not enlisted her help earlier, not just because it would have saved me some frustrating battles with the PowerPoint but because I really enjoyed talking to her and wished we had more time to vent about Trump and close-minded people and gate agents who upgrade you and then change their minds.
So this is me saying it all worked out. I would never have met Adrienne if I hadn’t switched seats. And I am so glad that I did.