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Sandwich Generation: eMail Edition

September 20, 2021

The printer has an email address. Just attach your file and send it

I don’t know how to do that.

You don’t know how to send an email

We’ve all been there, right? Your relative asks you do something simple with technology. But, the next comment was not one I was expecting.

Dad. We don’t email. We text.


Well, the printer has a USB drive. Save it to a thumb drive and print it from there.

This time all I got was a blank stare. Clearly, he had no clue how to save to a thumb drive.

My son gave a speech yesterday. It was in church so we don’t call it a speech. You might think of it as a sermon and you wouldn’t be far wrong. But, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetings they are called talks. He gave a wonderful talk. It was about ten minutes and all about the power of forgiveness.

He wrote the text of it himself. He’s 18 and headed out on a mission for the church. He’ll be serving in Philadelphia for two years. He’s been preparing for this for a long time. He’s studied scriptures. He’s good with money. He’s a hard worker.

But, apparently he never learned to send an email. Or how to attach a document. He needed me to print it out for him.

I didn’t realize that email was now an “old person” skill. Because it didn’t used to be.

I’ve been around email from the very beginning. Well, technically just after the beginning. But, certainly close to the beginning. In 1988 WordPerfect corporation released their email program called WordPerfect Office. There were already a few on the market. One called cc:Mail was one of the most popular. Microsoft had a terrible program called Microsoft Mail. (It predates Microsoft Exchange by several years.)

I became one of the first support engineers for WordPerfect Office. Eventually, I became part of our elite on-site support team. I left WordPerfect and went to Microsoft in the early 1990s. Originally I supported Microsoft Mail (that’s how I knew how terrible it was.) And then I supported and wrote training material for Microsoft Exchange. I even did a book on Exchange.

I not only was a certified expert, I helped write the certification exam.

So, it was frustrating that I couldn’t get my dear mother interested in an email system. She owned a CPA firm and I offered to install Microsoft Exchange for her for nothing.

We don’t need an email system. We have plenty of those “Out of Office” notes and we just leave them on people’s doors.

Tell you what. Let me put Exchange in and after six weeks if your staff doesn’t love it, I’ll take out.

After six weeks her staff threatened to quit if she took it out. My dear mother was actually an innovator when it came to technology. She quickly saw the advantage of email and had me install other Microsoft products as well.

But, I still tease her about when I had to convince her to use email.

And now I had to do that for my son.

Many families today, especially young families, find themselves caring for young children AND an aging relative. They are known as the “sandwich generation,” because they find themselves sandwiched between the young and the old.

I didn’t fall into that group. My children are all grown and my dear mother, long since retired, is in excellent health.

Well, I almost escaped that group.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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