*This story was relayed to me by my poor brother Topher, who was unfortunately sent to our grandparents' house yesterday to "fix the computer."
I have printed out screenshots with arrows and instructions and taped them to the walls of my grandparents' home office. I have sat next to my grandmother and clarified, for what seems like the hundredth time, that she must log out of my grandfather's email account before she can access her own.
When she finally was able to log into her account, she complained that all she had was spam from a yarn company. "Well grandma, that's because no one else has sent you any email," I said.
"Oh," she replied. But I could tell that she didn't really understand what the hell I was talking about.
For my grandparents, the Internet is a terrifying place with no rules. Only a few months ago was I able to make them understand that each website has an "address" and the only thing they needed to do to get to a website was type its address into the white URL bar at the top of the browser.
Prior to that, my grandfather had been accessing Facebook by logging into his email account, locating the email from Facebook congratulating him on starting a profile, and clicking on the link in the message.
"Oh dear god," I moaned when I found out. "Could you make this any more complicated for yourself?"
On one occasion, my grandfather demanded I come over to teach him how to use his "new email program." I had no idea what that program could possibly be, but I came over anyway.
When I asked him to show me what he was talking about, my grandfather proudly clicked on the W icon on his desktop and opened up a blank Microsoft Word document.
"Grandpa," I said. "You realize this is a word processor, right?"
"Ah! That explains why your aunt didn't get my email!" he exclaimed.
When my grandparents actually do manage to send email, it's often from the wrong account (they still don't understand why they have to log out of one to access another) and it is also very odd.
While I was abroad in Spain in November, my grandfather sent me this:
I've forgotten what youth is all about. I sit here in my condo all alone none to talk with, listening to your Grandmother sing Xmas carrols in an off key. Life is swell.
Spain must be a wonderful place and I pray that you will bring me a beautiful senorita when you return.
"They want me to fix their computer again," he lamented. "But it doesn't need to be fixed! I can't take it anymore!"
I declined, as I had a zumba class to get to. "You have fun now!"
Hours later, he called me again to tell me "a really amazing story."
So, he began, I went over to our grandparents' house to help grandma log out of her email account.
"Oh, of course," I said.
"It gets better," he replied.
I had already logged her out and was trying to help them with some other stuff, when I noticed something weird. I had thought it was part of the desktop image, but...it stayed on the screen when I opened other windows.
Honestly, at this point, I had no idea where my brother's story was going.
So I called grandpa over and I said, "Grandpa, what's on your screen?" He told me that someone had sent him some documents to sign.
"Wait," I said. "What?!"
Someone had sent him an email attachment that he was supposed to sign. So...get this...he opened the attachment, got a ballpoint pen, and signed and dated his monitor.
"No fucking way, dude."
"Brittany, our grandparents' computer monitor now has our grandfather's signature and March 13, 2012 written across it in black ink."
"Are you kidding me?! I mean, he realized that didn't work right?"
"Honestly, I have no idea. I bet someone out there is wondering why the hell our grandfather emailed him a blank document," my brother said. "Grandpa just laughed."
And that, my friends, is potentially the greatest senior citizen computer fail in the history of the world.