I'm a late bloomer... not in gardening terms, but in Internet exploration.
I went into this electronic age kicking and screaming, all the while mumbling something about the obvious chaos that would certainly ensue by becoming a paperless society.
The very thought of this old-school business person trying to maneuver through the dangerous pitfalls of the corporate jungle without a paper trail brought images of the 1960s television show, "Lost In Space."
In the series, Guy Williams and June Lockhart play the heads of the Robinson family who'd set out on a five-year mission to explore a distant planet. After an evil doctor sabotages the space ship and inadvertently winds up going along for the ride, the family finds themselves hopelessly lost in space.
"It's far too risky for me to use a computer," I bemoaned to my dumbfounded boss. "What if I accidentally access Pentagon information? I'll be whisked away by the FBI or CIA and never be heard from again."
Okay, I know that was a bit extreme but don't forget you're talking with a fiction writer here.
"Please don't make me do this," I begged. "If super-brained teenagers can do it intentionally, I knew I could do it accidentally." After all, I only needed to look out the window into the Nevada desert to prove my theory.
"If I can unknowingly stumble onto a bomb testing site in the mysterious Area 51 in the Nevada desert, I can do the same with a computer," I nervously declared, searching her eyes for the slightest flicker of understanding.
"It seems like only yesterday," I began. The day was ripe with exploration opportunity as my little family headed out on our Sunday excursion. True to our western pioneer heritage, we packed a picnic lunch and pointed our covered wagon (it was a 1975 Chevy wagon) toward the open Nevada desert.
After following a seemingly endless and rugged dirt road far up into the once booming (no pun intended) Tonopah mountain range, the kids were beginning to grow weary of their mother's adventurous spirit.
"Just think kids, we're following a path that silently holds the memories of thousands of old miners who either died a lonely and forgotten death looking for gold or lived the life of opulence when they found the Mother Lode!", I said getting carried away with my creative skills.
Then just as we thought our journey had been pointless, we turned a dusty corner to find what for all intents and purposes seemed to be an abandoned ghost town.
The dry gray weather-worn buildings stood as centurions guarding their precious treasurers. Boarding houses, small homes, stores, jail and saloons all seemed to say their occupants or owners had just stepped out for a minute and would be right back.
Dishes sat on the tables with eating utensils close by. Tattered curtains waved at us through open windows that were still filled with the solid glass panes. Old chairs, beds and cabinets patiently waited for their owners to return.
Then when this moment seemed all too perfect we came upon a sign. Not a ghostly vision, but a horrendous nightmare. The large sign that was permanently attached to the side of an old boarding house read: "WARNING! You are trespassing in a United States government bombing test site. This is an active site and you are in immediate danger. Leave immediately! Bombs are routinely detonated with no notice."
Okay, so they got my attention. We left and never returned. So you can see why I had a good reason to fear an even easier form of exploration opportunities.
Obviously I learned how to use the word processor and timidly waxed my surfboard before heading out to surf the net. I quickly learned how to maneuver my way around a web site and even came somewhat proficient in safely accessing a plethora of valuable information.
It wasn't until 2004 that this pioneer discovered eBay. Ah, the very word sent shivers up both my husband's spine and our checkbook.
Did you know that at any given time there are more than 300 billion items for sale on eBay? It's like one enormous electronic flea market or the world's largest garage sale. And talk about the dream of every "A" type personality - there's endless opportunities to compete and win. It's the thrill of the hunt and the victorious satisfaction in placing the winning bid.
Seriously, when was the last time the clerk at Target said, "Congratulations! You've won everything in your shopping cart. That'll be $24.79 and you need to pay me within 10 days.
No, I haven't either. So see, it's a shopper's heaven. Plus, you save on gas and clothing for you don't need to leave the house or even change your clothes. Always wanted to buy Canada? It's on eBay. The rights to someone's life? Yep, $4 million on eBay. From a penny to a fortune, it's all there on eBay.
However, you better watch out for the pitfalls along the road of the electronic flea market jungle. That seemingly cheap item just cost you twice the highest price at K-Mart, Target or even Wal-Mart.
"WOW! You got a 93-piece set of Pfaltzgraff china for $20?" But wait. Is that a bombing test site sign?
Well, you could call it that. Unfortunately the sign on the side of the eBay building isn't nearly as big as the one in Nevada. It's that small sign in the middle of the page that's called "shipping and handling."
Sure, you can still get bargains and some great collectible items online. You just need to look for the signs so you don't hear that Air Force jet ramping up to make a bomb drop. Excuse me a minute... it's time to check my bids.