No help for the Little Old Lady in this modern world of computers

Sunday February 12 2017

A depressed and frustrated woman working as secretary in stress at office desk with computer laptop. PHOTO | AFP

A depressed and frustrated woman working as secretary in stress at office desk with computer laptop. PHOTO | AFP 

By GERRY LOUGHRAN
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The Little Old Lady, hereinafter known as the LOL, received a call on her telephone which said: “This is Your Gas Company. We have an important message for you. Press any digit.”

“Oh dear,” the LOL said, and pressed number 4.

The voice came back: “Your quarterly account is now due. Please send us the current reading on your meter so that we may bill you accurately for gas used. Otherwise you will receive an estimated billing.”

But the LOL was a widow and lived alone and her gas meter was behind a decorated grill which she could not possibly move on her own. Plus, her eyesight was poor and she would surely get the numbers wrong.

“Oh dear,” she said again, and wondered why they didn’t send a man round to read her meter like they used to.

A few days later, the LOL decided she would like to buy some Premium Bonds. She had a little bit of money in reserve and there was a prize draw every month for lucky holders.

So she went to the post office with her cheque book and asked for the necessary form for the purchase of Premium Bonds. But the lady there said: “Oh, we don’t do it that way any more. Nowadays it’s best to go online.”

But the LOL knew that was impossible because she did not have a computer.

DIFFERENT ERRAND

On the last day of the month, because that was the date she always used, the LOL went back on a different errand. She handed over a carefully completed form and a small amount of money to be sent to Africa for a poor girl’s education. She did it every month.

The lady behind the counter took the form and said, “You don’t have to do all this form-filling. We can give you a card and you bring it along and one swipe and it’s done!”

The trouble was that the LOL had already been given such a card but whenever it was swiped it never worked and the ladies behind the counter shrugged. So the LOL just asked for some more blank forms.

And then she went home, thinking how bewildering the world had become.

***
If you are repelled by people who eat noisily, breathe heavily or slurp their tea, you are suffering from a brain abnormality called misophonia.

Over the years, scientists have been sceptical about whether such feelings constitute a genuine medical ailment. But new research at Newcastle University has proved that people who react in such ways have a difference in their brain’s frontal lobe to non-sufferers.

But worry not. There are thousands of us, probably millions. And the revulsion goes far beyond heavy breathing.

Tweeters to the Newcastle evening newspaper contributed a long list of buttock-clenching, nerve-jangling and unbearable noises. They included: Blowing and bursting bubbles, people clicking their fingernails and cracking their knuckles, chewing hard boiled sweets, the sound of clicking keyboards, snoring and packet rustling, a dog licking, repeated rapping noises.

NOISY EATING

Most references by far were to noisy eating and breathing. One victim tweeted: “People eating and breathing that way gets me absolutely irate to the point I am ready to kill the person doing it.”

***

Elizabeth II notched up 65 years as Queen of England last week, thus celebrating what is known as a Sapphire Jubilee, the only monarch of these isles ever to do so. She became the UK’s longest reigning monarch in 2015. Forty-one-gun salutes were fired around the country, but the queen herself, aged 90, stayed quietly at home in Sandringham.

Although she is our longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth is outranked by at least four others. King Sobhuza of Swaziland ruled for 82 years, King Louis XIV of France for 72 years, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand for 70 years and the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, Franz Joseph I, for 67 years.

***

Two men bump trolley carts in the supermarket. The older man says: “Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention, I was looking for my wife.”
“That’s a coincidence, I was looking for mine,” says the young man.

“May be we can look together,” says the old guy. “What does your wife look like?”

“She’s tall and pretty, aged 24, red hair, blue eyes, long legs and wearing shorts. What does your wife look like?”
To which the old man replies, “Doesn’t matter, let’s look for yours.”

***
Tom, aged 82, went to his doctor for a check-up. A few days later, the doctor spotted him in a bar with a gorgeous young blonde on his arm. Tom said: “I’m doing what you said: ‘Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.’” “Actually,” the doctor replied, “what I said was: ‘You’ve got as heart murmur, be careful.”