Yesterday one of my teammates was going through a list of things we need for the office: envelopes, stapler (half a dozen are lying around the room but none work), hole punch (I pointed to a perfectly functional one in front of him and asked, “What’s wrong with that?” “But we need more.” “Why? Why can’t we just have one?” “Jen, remember when we only had one computer, and we all had to use the computer?” “Yes, but everyone needs to use computers everyday. We don’t all need to use a hole punch everyday.” “Well, you’ll see one day when many people need to use it.” “Fine. We’ll buy one on that day.”), Portuguese-English dictionary, and an atlas. He asked if I had money in the Anti-Corruption account for these things. I said, “No, remember all my money is going toward food?” (That’s a long, frustrating story which I typed out but never posted.) I continued, “So we can buy envelopes and probably a stapler. But I have a dictionary on my computer.”
At this point, my new assistant jumped in, “No, it’s impossible” in a you’re-a-liar-you-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about tone. I said clearly, “Yes. I have a Portuguese-English dictionary on my computer.” Again, “No, this is impossible.” I said, “Come here. Let me show you.” So he and another teammate came over to my laptop, and I double clicked on Firefox, then clicked on Portuguese-English Dictionary on my bookmarks toolbar. He still did not believe me: “How is this a dictionary? This is not a dictionary.” I told him to give me a word. “In English or Portuguese?” I told him either. He said, “Bread.” I typed in ‘bread’ then clicked on ‘English to Portuguese’. “Wow, pão,” both guys said, very impressed. I got up and started moving to one of the desktops and said, “Let me show you on this computer.” In an I-know-better-than-you tone, my assistant challenged, “No, it’s not on that computer.” “Oh, yes it is. Let me show you,” I said as I sat down in front of Yahoo Brasil and began typing the URL. He started arguing with me again, “No, it can’t be,” until he saw the same dictionary pop up on that computer. I saved it in favorites and showed them how to access it.
By this point, my other teammate was catching on. He pointed to another desktop and said, “Put it on this one.” So I did. Then he said very matter-of-factly, with a grin on his face, “Now we don’t need to buy a dictionary.”
(My assistant just looked confused.)
At the end of the day, my assistant asked me to show him how to do an internet search. He wanted to look at sites for English lesson plans (he’s in his second year at the pedagogical university, studying to be an English teacher). He knew how to do a Google search but didn’t know what to do beyond that (as in clicking on one of the many options that Google lists). I showed him how there are 2,030,000 sites that have something to do with ‘English lesson plans’. Wide eyes. Then I explained that he really only needs to worry about the first ones as they would be most pertinent. I showed him how to click on an option, although unfortunately our internet hasn’t been working properly and won’t actually open any websites. He asked, “But when I can open a site, then I can print, right?” I explained that it depends on the website; some sites would allow you to freely print examples of lesson plans while others would charge. He was confused. I compared it to borrowing free library books or buying books at a bookstore. Still confused. When he asked, “But how can I pay?” I finally understood the confusion. In a society where all financial transactions are done by handing cash to a real live person, the idea of paying to print something from the computer doesn’t make any sense. Who do you give your cash to? And if I can print a Word document, then why can’t I print something else? I said, “With a credit card.” I was about to further explain, but he said, “I think I have a lot to learn about the internet.”