Online Lifeline

by Phyllis L. Christian
Texas, USA

Online Lifeline

Books are precious to me; I have always been an avid reader. But my eyesight has failed to the point that I am now considered legally blind. I am a 75-year-old widow, and I live alone. I have spent many weary hours consulting with eye specialists, but will probably never regain my sight.

In order to continue enjoying books, I subscribed to an online audio book service several years ago. Audio books let me enjoy nonfiction and literature alike without straining my eyes too much. But their books are encoded, so only certain electronic devices will accept their software, then read them out loud. I tried several, but had to load and reload the media to get through a book. Then they put the Iomega HipZip in their list of supported devices and I bought one.

When I received it, though, I could not set up the software. Between the HipZip’s small screen, the number of on-screen instructions and the sequence of buttons I had to push, I could not read the screen fast enough to follow the steps. I tried over and over to install the software, to the point of total frustration. I am not usually defeated by something so minor, but I wanted to throw the HipZip across the room.

I described this exercise in futility to members of an online audio book list. Another member, named Georgia, tried several times to walk me through it. Over and over again I went through each of the steps, and every time got an error message telling me the installation was no good.

By that time, I imagine Georgia was as frustrated as I was. Then, out of the goodness of her heart, she told me to mail it to her. She had two of the devices herself, she said, and would do the installation for me. She didn’t know me and I didn’t know her, but I jumped at her offer and sent it immediately with a prepaid return address label. (I didn’t want her to have second thoughts!)

About a week later, I got it back. What mystical incantations she pronounced over it I will ever know, but it worked exactly as it was supposed to, and has been working ever since. If it hadn’t been for Georgia, I wouldn’t be able to use the HipZip. It would either be sitting collecting dust or stomped into little pieces.

Georgia’s unexpected act of kindness was priceless to me. I felt as if she rescued me from a problem no one else could understand. She may not realize it, but Georgia gave me more than just technical support; she gave back my ability to enjoy books, one of the greatest pleasures in my life.

Originally published as HeroicStories #360 on Nov 25, 2002

2 thoughts on “Online Lifeline”

  1. I am 81 years old, and fortunately, since I had successful cataract surgery, I can still read. but my 20th century brain can’t keep up with the pace and changes of 21st century technology. I wish I had someone like “Georgia” who was tech-savvy and could help me adjust when I need to convert to new equipment and programming to keep up with what I have learned to do online.

    • I love that you’re here. 🙂 While you might feel less than tech-savvy, in my experience sharing your situation also inspires those who feel even less so.


Leave a Comment