Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be

This post is really for all my non-PA readers. And by “non-PAs,” I mean “old people.”

Pictured: how we view people born before 1975.
Pictured: how we view people born before 1975.

As an office PA, people often ask to use my computer to look something up, check their email, whatever. And, I admit, I’m probably not doing anything important, or even work related.

With a sample size verging on the thousands, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a clear generational divide amongst people who borrow others’ computers. When the borrower is under the age of, say, 35, they will almost always open a new window or tab.

Over that age, they don’t seem to even know what a tab is. They’ll just start typing in whatever window you left open. If you’re lucky, when they’re done, they’ll just walk away, and you can back the page up. If not, they’ll close the window, along with the eleventy other tabs you had open.

(Actually, if you’re really lucky, they won’t know what Firefox is, and they’ll open Internet Explorer.)

What I’m saying to all you people who grew up with manual (no longer “standard”) transmissions and rotary phones and, I dunno, abacuses, here’s what you do when you borrow someone else’s computer: OPEN A NEW WINDOW.

It’s easy; just hit ctrl-N (Command key icon-N on Apples). If you can’t figure that out, pull down the File menu (it’s in the upper-left) and select “New Window.”

Not doing that is the equivalent of walking up to someone’s desk and throwing everything to the floor.

But, old dogs, new tricks, etc, etc. I’ve gotten into the habit of creating a new window whenever anyone sits at my desk. It minimizes the damage they can do. Unless, of course, someone has taught them Command key icon-Q on a Mac.

And for God's sake, don't tell them about ctrl-alt-del!
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
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15 Responses

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  2. PS. Frankly, I dropped by your blog by mistake and I was really impressed (having worked in film and theatre when I was younger) at how you made a potentially interesting blog excrutiatingly boring. Hasta la vista.

  3. I was born before 1975 and I bet you I know more about computers, app AND how to use them than you do, kiddo! You are SO self-congratulatory and annoying. I was a PA before you were born and now I have my own internet-based businesses. I design and put together my own websites with screencasts, video etc. and I have an iPad, iPhone and every other gadget under the sun, ALL OF WHICH I HAVE MASTERED WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE MANUAL. So your sweeping generalisation about people born before 1975 is, frankly, insulting rubbish. What a stupid thing to post. Incidentally I don’t let anyone in their twenties on my computers. They watch stupid crap on YouTube and leave it open, check out their Facebook and leave it open (so I don’t need their password and can cause havoc if I like), and email things like “Hey, dude, I just saw this awesome freaking sick stuff on YouTube”… They don’t speak English. In fact, they often don’t speak, being too involved in their texts. I wouldn’t be younger even if I could. So stop being such a jerk.

  4. As an avid fan of the blog and one who falls into the above-35 demographic, I, too, must take issue with this. In my case, I start my day by opening eight browsers, knowing I’ll need to bounce around multiple sites. By the end of the day, I can have as many as 10-12 browsers up with several tabs opened within each. So, at least with me, your little theory doesn’t hold!

    Also agree with the under-35 crowd doing something to completely screw up settings in the name of “fixing” it. I can’t count how many times my wife’s laptop (she’s an AD) returned completely jacked up because some noob PA messed with it. Hands off!

  5. I ended up just password protecting my computer, so the user needed a password to clear the screensaver. That’s what you learn working on two Bollywood movies with a bunch of Indians who have no regard for personal property.

      1. The first one ended up titled “New York”, and the second was such a shit show to work on that I haven’t ever had the desire to watch it, so I don’t know what it’s called.

  6. I’ve noticed the same exact thing.

    Lucky for us, there’s Google Chrome. I set up an auto-load option so that anytime I open the browser, it auto-opens a tab for each site I’ve told it to. I realize it’s not foolproof, but it’s a step in the right direction for minimizing your frustration.

    Speaking of minimizing, that’s your first line of defense. Chances are, they’ll use the open, blank window (I like to start it off on Google for them) as opposed to bring up one of your existing windows.

  7. Ahhh, biggest pet peeve! Though, it’s usually my post-1975 peers that do it to me. I blame just general lack of consideration. Since I keep multiple tabs open in all my windows, it’s gotten to the point where I’ll carefully prep my computer, minimizing windows and opening a new one, before handing it over AND saying, “Please don’t close anything.”

    If the borrower is a PC user, I sorta understand [but not really because the concept of windows and tabs and not touching things that aren’t yours isn’t that different from windows to macs]. But on the last film I worked on we ALL used macs. Except for the guy with the broken computer.

  8. You use a Mac – Above the line uses windows. So they probably hit ctrl+n for a new window or ctrl+t for a new tab, said what the fuck is this gay little symbol next to the spacebar and said fuck it, he’s on a Mac, let him suffer.

  9. As one of your born-before-1975 audience, I’ll take exception to this. My experience is that if I let a born-AFTER-1975er use my computer, I come back to it to find that all of the settings I like have been…reset. I hate it when someone says, “Oh, I fixed it for you. You’ll like it a lot better this way.”


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