Computer challenged.

One hour ago, Mother of PittGirl who is in her early-fifties calls my office. The same mother of PittGirl who for the first year that she had a computer would send us girls emails that were just one giant paragraph and then finally one day sent us all a message that said, “How the heck do you go to the next line on this damn thing?!?”

That Mother of PittGirl:

PittGirl’s Office Phone: Bzz. Bzz.

PG: This is PittGirl.

Mom: PittGirl. Hi, Honey. Did you sleep good last night? How’s work? It’s mom.

PG: Good. Good. What’s up?

Mom: I’m sitting at the computer trying to get to This Website.

PG: Okay?

Mom: Where would I find that?

PG: Um.

Mom: Okay.

PG: Okay.

Mom: So…

PG: So you just type it in.

Mom: Oh. Okay.



Mom: And where do I type that in?

PG: You see up a box up top where it says http?

Mom: Um. Doodoodoodoodoo. Oh. Yeah.

PG: Right there. Erase all of that and type in

Mom: Okay. Click. Delete. Delete. Delete. Deletedeletedeletedelete.

PG: [waves away the person that enters her office. I’m helping Mommy here.]

Mom: Okay. double u double u double u dot … do I put spaces in it?

PG: You do not.

Mom: Okay. double u double u double u dot … capital letters?

PG: It doesn’t really matter. Just type it in there.

Mom: Okay. double u double u double u … [pause]

PG: Just type it, woman!

Mom: dot tee h eye ess double u eee be ess eye tee eee dot see oh emm. Okay. Let me check my spelling. double u double u double u dot tee h eye ess double u eee be ess eye tee eee dot see oh emm. Okay. Done.

PG: Press return.

Mom: Okay. Doodoodoodoodoo…

PG: The “Enter” button.

Mom: Oh. Okay. There we go. It says “Loading.” Is that right?

PG: Yes.

Mom: Oh. Okay. There we go. Look at that.

Yes. Look at that.

Join me tomorrow when I teach her how to minimize a window and she says, “Can’t we just get your father to do that?”

Also, I’m well aware that one day in the future, I may be calling children of my own all, “My goodness. I’m trying to teleport your father home from golf and it is just. not. working!”


  1. In Sewickley
    August 18, 2008 12:01 pm

    OMG, I feel your pain. I get those calls every now and then.

  2. Eve (Crescent, PA)
    August 18, 2008 12:14 pm

    You’re all wimps! Try this with a 91-year old woman who can’t hear and thinks her desktop is what her monitor sits on.

  3. pittgirl
    August 18, 2008 12:15 pm


  4. emstef23
    August 18, 2008 12:23 pm

    Oh the one paragraph emails….I still get those from both parents….it’s like a big run on sentence that you can’t quite figure out the point.

  5. Jessica
    August 18, 2008 12:34 pm

    Wow! I think our mother’s may be twins.
    Your post reminded me of this website.

  6. c in york
    August 18, 2008 12:36 pm

    LOL!!! Oh how I Love PG’s Mom!!!!!!

  7. Izzy
    August 18, 2008 12:46 pm

    Love it! My mother was babysitting the nephews when they ran into a computer glitch. The oldest tells her to call me because “Auntie knows EVERYTHING about computers” …heh. So I get on the phone with her and ask her what’s on the desktop…..her answer: “A stapler, a coffee cup, pencils…..”

  8. Julie
    August 18, 2008 12:47 pm

    My dad, after years of typing all his text messages and emails in capital letters, finally figured out how to put the words in lowercase. Then one day I sent him a text message with my brother’s email address ____@yahoo, and to save space, didn’t include the ‘.com’ at the end. My dad called me several days later saying he had tried to email my brother but couldn’t figure out why he kept getting an undeliverable message back in his inbox. Turns out, he didn’t know there had to be anything after ‘yahoo’ (or gmail, or aol, etc.). Oh, parents.

  9. retiredguy
    August 18, 2008 1:33 pm

    Cut us some slack. We grew up writing letters with paper and pen.

    I had to show my soon to be 19 year old daughter how to address and stamp an envelope, so she could write a friend in boot camp.

    Her: “Tsk. I don’t know WHY the Marines don’t let him have his cell phone so we can text.”

  10. DisplacedFromPitt
    August 18, 2008 2:09 pm

    My parents are tech-savvy enough to get on instant messaging…but they started writing all instant messages as email. “Hi DisplacedFromPitt, Hope you are having a nice day. Do you think you can make it home over labor day weekend and bring the kids? Great, Thanks! Love, Mom”

    I eventually trained them to change this to a more chatty style. Then in the past few months they moved to SMS and they treat it like instant messaging and send 10 4 word messages to make one point. I need to get unlimited texting just to deal with their texts.

    So, be glad your mom isn’t trying those things!

  11. Alison
    August 18, 2008 2:09 pm

    Jessica– Thank you soooooooo much for the link to that website. i was dying from laughing so hard. made work much more enjoyable.

  12. Jenn
    August 18, 2008 2:11 pm

    Loves the one-paragraph e-mails from the folks, complete with run-on sentences!

    It’s pretty funny, too, when Dad types with mostly his index fingers. Ah, parents.

    I so responded as if this were Plurk. Hit me, seriously. I have to stop doing that!

  13. manders
    August 18, 2008 2:41 pm

    my dad signs every email “dad” as if i didnt know it was him. even if it’s a one word answer to a train that’s been going on all day.

  14. MiamiShyner
    August 18, 2008 2:54 pm

    Let me please add to the parental funniness.

    MommaShyner just read my blog the other day and commented that she wished she could knock the stuff in her head loose and get in on paper (or blog as the case may be). I responded to her comment telling her to turn off her filter because that’s what blogging is for.

    Did I get a phone call the next day asking me which filter she should turn off? Is it a pop-up blocker or something on the server?

    I love that woman!

  15. Angie
    August 18, 2008 3:00 pm

    HA! I totally feel your pain. I am online customer support for my employer’s website. Customers call me all the time and are even worse. “what is an internet browser?” “there is no address bar” “Is that the word dot or a dot?” I wonder how they even figured out how to turn it on!!

  16. Mrs Pitsberger
    August 18, 2008 3:03 pm

    My mom, who is in her mid-fifties, just got over the fact that there’s no dial tone on her cell phone, but still insists on yelling into it.


  17. lovesthenorthside
    August 18, 2008 3:41 pm

    my mom is so proud that she can use the “interweb.” the same mom that leaves messages on phones that go “hi it’s mom, call me at (555) 555-5555.”

    @ retired guy: how true! not only did my son not know how to address an envelope, he wasn’t sure where the stamp went.

  18. Magnus Patris
    August 18, 2008 4:01 pm

    My mom has a lovely 1984 Lincoln Town Car, the official car of the elderly. It has one of those nifty, new-fangled keypad unlocking systems on the driver’s door. Every time I even approach the car, she shouts out “EIGHT-SIX-FOUR-FOUR-ZERO!!!!” for all to hear. It’s a wonder that the car hasn’t been stolen yet (BTW, someone please steal the damn thing…. it’s a P.O.S. death trap but my folks think it’s one fine ride).

  19. TK
    August 18, 2008 4:04 pm

    For all the young, self-righteous people out there who want to make fun of older people using computers, try this one on for size:

    Last week, while out buying lunch at a local establishment, the cashier handed me a half dollar as part of my change.

    Last night I went to Giant Eagle to pick up a few things. When I went to pay for the items, I gave the cashier (22 yo or under)the half dollar as part of the payment (Yeah I’m one of those old fogies, in my early 40’s, who still pays in cash when I can).

    Cashier (looking at both sides of the coin): “What’s this?”

    Me: “It’s a half dollar”.

    Cashier: “How much is it worth?”

    Other cashier (watching this bemused):”It’s a fifty-cent piece, that means it worth fifty cents.” (Rolls eyes and looks at me smirking like the other cashier is the dumbest person alive).

    Original Cashier: “Don’t laugh at me. I’ve never seen one before.”

    Good Lord. The woman has lived between sixteen and twenty-two years and has never seen a half dollar before and has to ask what it is even thought the words “HALF DOLLAR” are engraved big enough on the back so that even Ronnie Milsap could read it. And she doesn’t even know how much a half dollar would be worth.

  20. Pensgirl
    August 18, 2008 4:45 pm

    My former boss, who just retired at age 57, came into a staff meeting about two years ago and said “Did you know that little button on your internet that looks like a house takes you to the homepage?”

    One of my colleagues responded “You don’t say!”

    Meanwhile, my mother, who is older than 57, could program in DOS. Have engineer parents, people. It’s the best way to go, computerwise.

  21. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    August 18, 2008 5:11 pm

    A local school district in Oregon (where I live) had a computer server issue last school year and all of the computers were down for a few days meaning no computer to assist the teachers and no computer labs. Some teachers were lost because their entire lesson plans were on the computers and well as some teaching materials. In the computer lab, one teacher decided to have students write letters and you wouldn’t believe the number of students that did not know how to address an envelope (return address, main address, stamp) or how to set up a letter. The sad part was all of the misspellings. The excuse from the kids was that they did not know how to spell check without the computer. Sad, really.

  22. Spud's dad
    August 18, 2008 5:36 pm

    Pensgirl, why on earth would anyone want to program in DOS? ;-)

  23. Megan
    August 18, 2008 7:14 pm

    Great post! I often get these calls from my 76yo mom . . . but I’m glad she’s email savvy and keeping in touch with relatives, even her high school buddies! Meanwhile, I know folks who won’t even get Caller ID, sigh.

  24. jcubed03
    August 18, 2008 8:23 pm

    Caller ID – how about touch tone??? I know folks who don’t have it because it costs extra – yipes!

  25. Pensgirl
    August 18, 2008 9:01 pm

    For the record, Spud’s dad, she didn’t want to! Her boss made her. But it led her to be familiar with computers, and that meant she was never asking us questions…we were asking her. And sometimes still do.

  26. nel
    August 18, 2008 11:35 pm

    My 53 year old brother just bought his first computer. My son was trying to teach him how to get on the internet.
    My son told him to “hit the e” (meaning the explorer icon)
    My brother took his hand and punched the e.
    I swear.

    Just tell your folks to keep pressing buttons until something happens.
    Worked for me!

    By the way, our stupidity on computers is our payback to young people everywhere who say “like”and “dude” every other word.

  27. chrys
    August 19, 2008 12:13 am

    I thought my mom was the only mom who did this!! Considering she has had a home computer for the last 5 years..LOL! A toast to our Moms..and their lack of online skills!!

  28. Summer
    August 19, 2008 6:54 am

    Pitt Girl, at least your mother can access the Internet. Mine can’t even do that. You have to be physically in the room with her, showing her by example how to do everything. Despite having done this several times, she still can not load up her browser. It’s insane, but I love her.

  29. corner press
    August 19, 2008 9:45 am

    Or, at the other end of the spectrum … my mom just joined Facebook yesterday.

    I’ve already told her to refer all questions to my younger sister, who’s much closer to home than I am.

    But now I think my Mom has too much access to my personal life. It’s like I’m 16 all over again. I mean, I love her … but still. It’s weird.

  30. Heather
    August 19, 2008 3:52 pm

    What’s scarier is when parents have just enough tech savvy to get into trouble.

    After my dad retired, he took on some work as a private investigator. He has a bunch of forms that he fills out for attorneys and asked for my help getting the forms into the computer. Originally, he thought he could somehow fax them into his computer and get them on the screen. He wanted my help.

    I thought maybe he meant that he wanted to fill out the forms and scan them into pdfs. Nope. He wanted to type on them. He couldn’t understand that a form needed to be created for him if he wanted to populate fields. All he knew was that the younger guys all had laptops and could do cool stuff.

    This all coming from a guy who has a fancy wand-style document scanner that fits in his back pocket and knows how to use it. I was at my parents’ house on Sunday and saw a business card for an IT worker at one of the firms he works for and I felt a twinge of sympathy for the poor guy. I haven’t received a call in over a month for “techie” type stuff so I’m sure he’s made a new friend!