Endless Generosity: How to Train a Cat to Do Your Taxes

By Jon Hillenbrand In Photography, Stories


So, the old phrase, “It was like herding cats,” tends to bring either a smile or a grimace of understanding to my face. My affinity for that phrase stems from its daily applicability here at my workplace. If any of my millions of readers have ever owned a cat, you know how difficult, and dare I say fruitless, it is to train one. Yet I am asked on a daily basis to perform the human equivalent of that process. I suppose that in every group, there is one person who can fix the remote or jumpstart the car correctly; the “technical person”. Though I may possess that role among my peers, the accolade it brings isn’t as rewarding as you would imagine. Obligation to help is understood as it’s, “no big deal” in every one’s mind. But I have no wish to repeatedly show people how to insert a photo into PowerPoint. So I usually attempt to teach people the few steps so that they can then do it for the rest of their lives.

This process usually goes as smoothly as force-feeding a pill to a cat. I’ll show the person once and then let them repeat the process on their own. But often, I walk out the door feeling like I’ve just explained the hydrogen cycle to a ball of yarn.

One day, our group was talking about mandatory educational tests that our company has every year, which at any other company would be the minimum requirements to be a conscious breathing human. They were being expanded to include new lessons and tests and so I suggested that the basic computer courses be required because I was tired of helping people restart Windows every day. One of the slower people at the other end of the table looked at me with her mouth wide open and her eyes like saucers. I just shrugged to her and leaned back in my seat.

So I think I have come to the conclusion that most people who are computer or technologically illiterate choose to be that way. They see the PC as a requirement, not a useful tool. If they think a link to a folder on the shared drive is a “website” (I read that this morning from a nurse), then there’s really no hope for them. I feel disgust and pity for them at the same time. I know it can be difficult learning something new, but I also feel that it’s only going to get worse for them. And if they aren’t willing to learn the basics now, they are relegating themselves to the same social status and intelligence as a cat.

What do you think?