Being tech savvy

Throughout my career, I’ve had the utmost respect for people with the technical skills to perform vital functions in the office environment, such as operating the Keurig coffee machine, hanging Christmas lights and cleaning mold out of the refrigerator (not to mention the slimy residue that accumulates inside the microwave).

These are the people who keep the office purring like a well-oiled Metro-North train. When I was a manager, I’d often give them bonuses for taking the initiative. “Alice, here’s $5. Would you turn on my computer … pretty please.”

Because I’m an “idea guy,” I rely on others to do key tasks at work and at home. For example, “Sweetheart, can you show me how to operate the toaster oven?”

In the past, I was usually too busy with the larger management issues to develop these skills or, as my assistant often alleged, I was too lazy to develop them, except in emergencies when no one else was available with the proper security clearance to respond in a crisis situation. And then, as commander in chief, I’d jump into the fray with vigor and determination and, in my most authoritative voice, proclaim, “Stand aside, everyone! Please stand aside before someone gets hurt while I perform this emergency task and replace the ink cartridge in the copier!” Which I did amid gasps and exultant praise from the assembled masses.

But then the next day, while I was ensconced in my office, thinking deep thoughts, I’d hear grumbling outside my door.

“Look what some dumbbell did to the copier!!! Who the ^$%#!@& did this???”


“Someone put the cartridge in backwards! The #%@**#@! copier is broken AGAIN! Call the repairman!”

“I called, but they said we don’t have a service contract anymore!”

(I guess I was too busy dealing with emergencies to renew the service contract.)

As a mob began to form, I came to the rescue. “We can’t allow this sort of calamity to occur! I’m going to take immediate action and … put out a memo.”

Then there was the time I got a call from a salesperson in Texas who said he was going to give me a great deal on ink cartridges because he heard wonderful things about my management skills — so I placed a rush order. That, you see, is how decisive managers take decisive action.

The next day someone yelled, “There’s a trailer truck outside from Texas with five skids of copier ink!!! Who the #@*!&*#! ordered this stuff???”

(Gulp again.)

We recently had an emergency situation at home. The printer ran out of ink. I should explain that the printer was in the box a year before I finally opened it because I didn’t want to deal with all those directions. Don’t manufacturers realize aging baby boomers can’t read directions in small print, which is the No. 1 reason America is falling behind in STEM education and why the Chinese are outpacing us in R&D, especially when it comes to copier machines and knock-off Louis Vuitton bags?

There I was, with a very large magnifying glass, trying to figure out how the printer worked. Three days later, during a self-imposed fast with no food or water, I got it to turn on after paying the neighborhood geek $5 to show me where the on-off switch was. Why do they insist on hiding those switches?

For most of my life, I’ve relied on experts to assist me in these technical matters, and by experts I generally mean teenagers or toddlers, who are adept at assembling Fisher-Price toys.

It’s been said that technology is changing so fast our society can’t keep up with it. Actually, technology is changing so fast we don’t have to keep up with it. All we have to do is ignore it.

I never bothered to learn how to use the fax machine and now no one uses fax machines except lawyers and funeral homes. Plus, I never could understand how to connect the DVD player to the TV set, but nobody uses DVDs anymore.

Despite what they say, ignorance IS bliss … when it comes to technology.

Joe Pisani may be reached at