Sundays are so different from Saturday. It’s hard to believe they can stand to be next to each other. Saturday, so bright. So carefree. So full of hope. Sunday, so…so…so Monday Eve. I get the Sunday jitters somewhere after breakfast or after church if I got myself there.
This Sunday’s anxiety didn’t seem to be fueled by the idea that I wasn’t ready for school, or the idea that things might go wrong the next day.
I think this Sunday’s discomfort came from the mix of the uncertainty of the world and disappointment about something that didn’t work.
The day before, a bright crisp Saturday, had seemed full of positive thoughts. I had busied myself with unimportant tasks like walking the dog, picking up twigs and branches, and having myself a mini bonfire with all of those dead tree parts.
I had big plans for a Google Meet Party for my mom’s 90th birthday this week. We had put the real party on hold for social distancing reasons, of course, but a little get together on the Internet might be just the thing to celebrate and then allow my mom her peace and quiet. She had reluctantly acquiesced to the party in the first place. I called my sister, who approved. I called my mom, who agreed. I made a video for her to show her how Google Meet worked. Here’s how to say yes to the invite. Here’s how to click the Join button. She watched it and emailed back, “I think I understand.”
That was Saturday.
Sunday dawned an overcast grey. Typecast. I had scheduled a 10:30 test run with my mom. It’s always best to be prepared. At 10:30, I joined the meeting. At 10:37, Sarah suggested that I call my mom. She picked up quickly. She was trying, but it wasn’t working. I coached her through the steps. She followed the directions, pausing to scold herself when she opened the wrong window. At 10:50, a thin ray of sunlight. Her icon appeared on our screen. We welcomed her. “Hello? Mom? Can you hear us?” No response. “Mom, see if you can unmute yourself.” No response. “It’s in the lower edge of the screen, toward the middle.” No response. No image either.
“I think you’d better call her again.” This was Sarah. I heeded her advice and phoned again.
“Mom, do you see a little microphone symbol at the bottom of the screen?”
Yes. She tried clicking it. No change.
“Mom, how about the symbol with the camera. Can you click that?”
She tried clicking it. No change.
For an hour, I tried taking her through settings, looking for a way to activate the microphone or the camera. No luck. At one point she got to a screen that listed accessories or devices that were disabled. “Yes, Mom, look down that list. Find the microphone that’s disabled, and click it.”
She couldn’t. She said it said, “No microphone found.” Was it possible that there was no microphone on this computer? Why yes, when you stop to think about it, a 12-year-old desktop computer with a separate cpu certainly might not have a built-in mic. Huh? And no camera? Why yes. That, too, was possible.
So much for a Google Meet Party. We’d all be chatting without the guest of honor. This would not do.
“What about that tablet you got her a few years ago?” This was Sarah again. I was dubious.
“I don’t think she knows how to use it, and it’s one of those Android tablets. I can sometimes muddle through it, to find something, but I don’t think I can walk her through it over the phone.”
We tried anyway. She said it was charged. That surprised me. I set up another meeting. She turned on the tablet. She found the email. She clicked the invitation. She clicked the Join message.
Nothing happened. I suggested that she try to get to the extensions to download Google Hangouts. This was like speaking Greek. Then she clicked the Invitation again, and squealed. A message had popped up. “Do you want to install Google Meet?”
“This is great. Say yes. Click Install.”
She did. “Nothing happened.”
“What do you mean, ‘Nothing happened?’”
“Maybe you didn’t really tap it. Try tapping it again.”
This went back and forth, with her saying she HAD tapped it, and me saying maybe she hadn’t tapped it RIGHT. Finally she got some action. “There’s a circley thing going round and round.”
“That’s a good sign, Mom. It’s just downloading. This could actually work.”
The circley thing, though, was the Android version of the Mac’s Rainbow Wheel of Doom. It never stopped. After 25 minutes, I released my mom from this torture. She could go back to her New York Times. “Maybe just leave it on and come back to it later. Lots of things are working slowly these days,” I offered hopefully. It was a faint hope.
Two hours later I called her back. “Any luck with the circly thing?”
I sighed. Heavily. She apologized. “It’s not your fault, Mom. It’s just disappointing.”
That was how Sunday differed from Saturday.