Monday, February 21, 2011

sushi as incentive (lyn)

My MacBook pro, iPhone, and DVR are among my favorite possessions.  And though I hate it whenever something goes wrong with any one of them, I am usually pretty good at figuring out how to make it right.

Not my son.  His way of fixing things goes something like this, “Mom, my printer won’t work.”  Or, “The internet is out.”  Or, “I can’t attach word documents anymore.” But now that he is 18 and will be leaving for college soon, I have relinquished my role as computer geek.

About two months ago, Alexander’s laser printer stopped working.  I ask the obvious, “Is it plugged in,“ and get an eye-rolling response, “Of course.”  I sit down with him and show him how to go to System Preferences and delete the printer and then re-add it.  But there’s a problem.  The computer can’t find the printer.  I tell him to call Apple, and let the two of them figure it out.

Weeks go by. Alexander has found an easier solution than calling Apple.  He just uses my printer.  I get frustrated and intervene with a  punishment that I hope will be incentive:  “I am not paying for anymore sushi dinners until you make an earnest attempt to fix your printer.”

Three weeks with no sushi.  “I just need to get through this trimester.  I promise.  As soon as I’m done, I’ll fix my printer.”  Three more weeks of Alexander coming into my room hours after I’ve gone to sleep, and waking me with the whirring sound of my printer.  “I’m sorry, I just need to print something out.  Go back to sleep.”

Finally, on Friday, Alexander finishes the trimester.  “Okay, remember, this weekend you need to fix your printer.”  “I know,” he says on Saturday morning.  “I promise to do it today.”  I leave a little to-do list for him as a reminder.  It is ignored.

Sunday afternoon, before leaving for theater, I remind him again.  “Please fix that printer.  I’d like to order in sushi tonight.”  “Okay, I promise, I’ll have it done by the time you get home.”  This doesn’t happen either.

So this morning, Monday, I say, “You are not leaving the house until you fix that damn printer.  I’ll even sit down with you and help.”  I go again to System Preferences and the printer doesn’t show up.  “Are you sure it’s all connected?” I ask.  “Yes, I already checked.”  “Well check again.  I don’t understand why it’s not even showing up.”  “Okay, but I told you, I already checked.”

The cables connecting the computer to the laptop sneak around the inside perimeter of Alexander’s bed onto his bureau where the printer sits.  The printer lights are on so that’s plugged in.  The cord to the printer is yes, plugged into the computer.  “Wait, let me check one more thing,” Alexander says.  He then follows the cord from the computer to the extension, and says, “Oh, maybe this is it.  Try it now,” as he connects a plug to the previously disabled extension cord.

The familiar purring starts up.  The printer of course now works.  We can have sushi together again. 

I imagine if Alexander will say to his roommate next year, “Hey dude, can I use your computer?  Mine won’t print.”  I doubt it.  That’s probably when he’ll miss me most.

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