Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fun with German Libraries, or You Can't Use the Spear of Destiny to Attach that Photo to Your Email

If you work in a public library, then you understand the agony of helping old people. Some of our elderly patrons will gleefully proclaim their ignorance of all modern technologies and smile as if this should make them appear cute and endearing. But it doesn't.

I've been using computers since around 1985 and I know people who started a few years before me. And AOL, your grandparents' Facebook, started in 1991. But I'll give these oldsters the benefit of the doubt and remind them that Google started in 1997, so that's 15 years they've had to get up to speed with computer technology.

So there's been more than enough time for them to learn something, anything, anything at all. But they haven't.

The old people who know about using computers probably never visit the library, spending all their free time, most probably, helping their computer illiterate neighbors get all their money back from that deposed Nigerian prince.

And this group of helpless mouse fumblers, virus spreaders, accidental rebooters and reckless spam clickers, is, according to Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation. Partly because they won World War II and defeated the Nazis.

So this is what I don't get: if our oldest Americans are so clueless about computers and digital technology and claim they can't learn to use any of it because it's new and strange and confusing, AND these are the Americans who beat Hitler's master race, then... wait for it... what the hell are the old people like in Germany?

Do German librarians work with even stupider people than we do? How did America beat the German Army or the Nazis? You know, the cool looking Germans who held their cigarettes upside down and wore monocles and polished their black leather boots until Colonel Hogan could read the latest secret codes in the reflection. One would think it's because we were better or smarter. Hell, we broke the Nazi code. Or maybe that was all just something that Hedy Lamarr did.

So this Greatest Generation can't figure out email, but they deciphered the Enigma machine. Where does that leave the German former soldiers, the defeated? Does this make them completey incompetent? Or something else entirely?

Based on what I learned from movies, I know Hitler was fascinated by the occult. Maybe German librarians face completely different problems from their aged veterans.

I can almost hear someone telling this to their confused patron and former Nazi: 
"Sie können keine anhängen foto mit the Spear of Destiny." Or, You cannot attach a photo with the Spear of Destiny.

Or worse yet, but would probably only happen once, "Ich kann nicht helfen, I can't help you to email the Ark of the Covenant because I will need to cover my eyes when you open it."

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