By Charlie Hodge
I’m not sure if Dad would be proud or simply ducking his head and looking for a safe place to hide.
I’m attempting to learn how to use a computer tablet and admit it’s a voyage into the unknown which I approach with a high level of tentative trepidation and significant insecurity.
My City Council cohorts are starting to comprehend that technology and I are not friends. The odds of failure if I am involved are astronomical.
When it comes to anything technological, mechanical, or electrical I am best to keep a very safe distance away. Whenever I touch such devices they tend to blow up, explode, implode, melt down, or simply quit.
It’s a discouraging and frustrating phenomena sadly saddled as a personal burden for as long as I can recall. Part of my lack of overall confidence and insecurity comes from a lifetime history of anything electrical screwing up the minute I lay hands on them.
Electronic equipment and machines wait for me to show up so they can malfunction.
I hold childhood memories of attempting to turn on our old black and white television. Attempt being the key word since most often I received a minor shock as sparks literally flew from my finger tips as I reached towards the set. Loud zaps or pops accompanied an impressive light show as I leapt back from the set tingling and rattled.
Dad found the routine amusing. I failed to see the humour.
Minor electrocutions would occur whether I was wearing shoes, slippers or nothing at all.
Televisions were not the only source of electrical obnoxiousness in my youth. Radios, fridges, microphones, cars, lamps … if it was plugged in or had a battery I was at risk. Flashlights often stop working when I hold them only to work for someone else.
Sadly as technology advanced so did my electrocutions. Cell phones and computers routinely quit or simply shut down for no reason.
My electronic idiosyncrasy became a bit of legend at newspaper offices, especially when my skill kicked in on a deadline day and the malfunction was critical.
One would think with such weird electrical luck I would have gone into a business involving vegetables, trees, wood, or cement rather than computers, cameras, or PA systems …. but no that would be far too logical. Instead I spent much of my career or spare time in the entertainment world using microphones, electronic instruments, or running light shows.
If playing dodge-that-charge seemed silly enough with TV sets and computers operating stage lighting systems running at 220 volts really pushed the gambit.
One near fatal day while working with a band at a nightclub I somehow managed to arc myself between my 220-volt power snake and the 110 volt line running the PA system. I remember hearing a boom as I was blown into the air for a few feet before crash landing into a massive biker playing pool.
Most of the hair on my arms and chest were seared and I smelled like burnt hair for days, no one ever figured out what happened however members of the band jokingly chocked it up to ‘Hodge Luck’.
Fast forward to today.
During the previous four year Council term I largely avoided using the modern tablet provided for council meetings. A program called e-scribe provides all the council documents replacing the use of paper.
Due to my paranoia I stuck with the good ole dead tree version of reports and documents. Ditto with the provided cell phone which I used as little as possible for limited phone calls. Texting was simply an accident waiting to happen.
This term, however I resolved to change my archaic ways and embrace the world of electronics. With the help of Information Services (IS) staff as well as electronic gurus such as City Clerk Stephen Fleming and Councillor Ryan Donn I have boldly gone where I have never gone before (and not so sure I should be). They have patiently mentored me through the haze and hardly laughed at me despite my clear ineptness and fear.
“Don’t be afraid, just push buttons and see what happens Charlie. It’s will be okay,” they’ve encouraged.
Despite a ridiculous amount of panic visits even the patient folks at IS have treated me kindly and with a well masked lack of mockery as I lose or forget passwords and crash programs.
I am pleased to report that so far I have received no electrocutions from either my tablet or cell phone.
However, following my recent sedation vacation at KGH I returned to City Hall bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready for work. That’s when I discovered my beloved tablet was dead. No matter what button I hit, no matter how hard I tried, nothing worked.
When I took my non-responsive flat body buddy into IS and explained the problem they set to work.
The next day they returned it in fine working order.
“What happened,” I asked.
“We have no idea. Never seen something like that before. Very weird. Chalk it up to Hodge luck,” he said.
Hmm, where have I heard that before?
I swear I head Dad chuckling in the background.