|English: Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 4P (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Prior to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge I had started a series about the influence of computers on my life. The series begin with my own frustration about computer problems I was having at that time. My computer woes were addressed in time for me to be able to make it through the April Challenge, but the story now continues as I arrive into the 1990's as a true computer novice. If you'd like to start the story from the beginning you can go to my post of March 9th and then proceed through the two posts after that one.
The used computer that my father purchased in the late 1980's was probably an IBM model that had been outdated by newer computers with the earliest versions of Microsoft Windows technology. The computer worked very well for someone who knew the language of the computer. My father took courses and had learned the basics and a bit more.
I knew nothing but how to bring up Tetris and a few other games my father had showed me. If my father wasn't at home or not working on his machine, he allowed me to use the computer. I scheduled my life as much as I could to be able to play on his computer while he was not using it. The arrangement worked just fine though I was learning nothing of real value about computers. My dad offered to teach me a few things, but I had no patience for that and didn't see much value in it.
Then something rather ironic happened. After running through a couple of unsatisfactory jobs that I'd taken after having stopped traveling with the theater company job that had kept me on the road for many years, I found a job that seemed a bit more reputable--I went to work in a Radio Shack store in Alcoa, Tennessee.
A big product push at Radio Shack at that time was with their line of computers. I was walking into a job where I didn't know much about any of the products and probably least of all the computers. New store personnel were given special training classes about operating the computers, but I didn't understand any of it. I'm not sure if my mind was stubbornly resistant to new technology or if I was just dumb when it came to things like computers. I was probably one of the worst computer sales people they'd ever had in their store.
Fortunately I had back-up from a couple of other employees who seemed to know more than I did--or at least acted like they did. Also, there was no huge amount of interest in computers in our store so that mostly kept me off the hook. Primarily we were selling electronic parts, toys, and sound devices. I didn't know all that much about those either. I was not thrilled about my performance as a Radio Shack salesperson, but at least I had a job. And the upper echelon had their eyes on me as a candidate to be a store manager due to my management experience and a demeanor that suited me for such a position. Things for me were okay on the job front.
Sadly, at about the same time as I started my job at Radio Shack, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was in latter stages when the doctors discovered the problem and he began deteriorating rapidly. It was not long before he had no interest in his computer. Since the computer was in the bedroom where my father was most of the time, it stayed idle on the work desk where he had spent so much time. There was now a sadness connected to computers for me.
My time was now divided among Radio Shack, my wife and kids, and as much time as I could devote to my parents. My father was withering away. If he managed to make it out of bed, he was like a specter sitting in his favorite living room chair. He would try to eat, but there was no joy in that for him and eating seemed rather useless at that point. Then he was no longer home. They moved my father to the hospital and we were prepared for him to die.
After my father passed on September 9, 1990, his computer sat covered and unused in his bedroom. I still had to think about the computers at work, but I no longer played on my father's computer. Somehow it seemed to have died with him.
Did you ever own or consider owning a computer from Radio Shack? Have you ever worked at a job that you never really grasped very well? How old were you when you lost your father or are you fortunate enough to still have him around?