GENERATIONS: Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that?
I looked up at the women seated around the tables in the meeting room and several pairs of stunned eyes looked back at me, and, almost in chorus, several voices said, “There’s a Ctrl+Z?”
When my son was in second or third grade, he and his buddy missed the bus one afternoon. It was a miserably cold day, and both were supposed to take the bus to daycare.
They knew the routine. They’d never missed the bus before. A few other kids who attended Horace May Elementary also took the bus to the same daycare. They all made the bus that day, but Eric and his buddy did not.
When the bus arrived at the daycare, you can imagine the concern of the daycare provider when two of the anticipated number did not get off the bus. She asked the others, and no one knew where the two boys were. She called Horace May. No kids in the office reported that they’d missed the bus. She called her husband, had him drive to the school and then follow the route the bus had taken to daycare. No sign of the boys.
Meanwhile, the two boys had decided that they knew the way to daycare — it was maybe a mile away. They could walk it. The temperature that day was in the negatives and the ditches were full of snow, but they set out from the school without telling anyone they’d missed the bus. They walked in the ditches along Highway 71, following packed snowmobile tracks, crossed the highway, and walked in the ditch along Oak Hills Road to daycare.
Meanwhile, the husband of the daycare provider made a few more trips back and forth between the school and the daycare, with no luck. The ditches were fairly deep and in most places, it was hard to see below from the road.
Eventually, the two boys arrived safely at daycare, where they were met with an understandable mixture of frustration and relief. They were oblivious to the fact that the adults involved had spent half an hour or more fearful that they’d met with any one of many possible fates of kids that disappear on subzero days. When I arrived to pick Eric up, I grilled him.
“What were you thinking?” I asked.
“Mom, you never told me what to do if I missed the bus,” he said.
He was right. I hadn’t. That led me on a fearful contemplation of what other essential lessons in life I had never cautioned him about or told him what to do if X, Y, or Z happened.
As we grow up, we are expected to problem-solve on our own, but occasionally there are times when I still wonder, “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about that?” And I don’t believe I’m unique in this experience.
Last month, for example, I taught a four-session workshop on memoir writing. One session dealt with the physicality of writing: pen or pencil on paper as opposed to composing and word processing; finding a comfortable and quiet place to write, etc.
During the discussion, I mentioned the difficulty I first had in transitioning from writing with pen on paper to composing on my computer, but I pointed out some of the advantages — cutting and pasting, moving things around, etc. I shared with the group that I’m still learning about shortcuts and functions of word processing.
“In fact,” I confessed to the women in my writing class, “it wasn’t all that long ago — maybe two years — that I learned about Ctrl+Z. I was composing one day and somehow I had inadvertently selected a large chunk of text and deleted it. It wasn’t the first time I’d experienced this frustration. I complained to my son Eric about it and he said, ‘Just hit Ctrl+Z and it will come back.’ I couldn’t believe I had been word-processing for over 20 years and no one had ever told me about it!”
I looked up at the women seated around the tables in the meeting room, expecting to see amusement with my not having known something so basic. Instead, several pairs of stunned eyes looked back at me, and, almost in chorus, several voices said, “There’s a Ctrl+Z?”
With a mixture of relief, discovery and frustration, the room was buzzing with shared experiences of losing pieces of text and not knowing how to get them back. And all this time, there had been a simple answer: Ctrl+Z.
Why hadn’t anyone told us about this?
It would be nice if there were an “undo” fix for other things in life. Like when you get distracted while baking cookies and forget to set the timer and don’t realize it until that burnt cookie smell permeates the house. If my oven had a Ctrl+Z, many cookies could be saved.
Of course, there are bigger, more life-changing — or even life-saving — things that happen for which a Ctrl+Z could make a much more significant difference: Undo a careless or oblivious act and restore things to the way they were a few minutes prior, and if I learn about an “undo” app for such things.
I’ll share it with you; but for now, search “Ctrl+Z Commands” to see if there are some other simple shortcuts no one ever told you about.
And if there’s a lesson to be learned in all of this, I guess it’s this: “Don’t expect someone to tell you what to do if X, Y or Z happens. Google it.”