A Technology Upgrade

December 20, 2007
By Marissa Pelkey, Narragansett, RI

I was in Point Judith this past weekend and I noticed this small thing this guy was watching a movie on. Does anyone know what it could have been? Mr. Houlihan said.

In my head I was thinking about how this man would survive when everything becomes digital in 2009. I pushed the thoughts aside and raise my hand to answer the question that everyone was too busy laughing at.

“A portable DVD player is what you saw, Mr. Houlihan. They sort of look like small laptop computers…” I explained.

My teacher went on to say how much he needed something like that to type with on his boat. He needed something to type future publications on and something to watch movies on when he was alone. This time, everyone told him to get a laptop. When everyone started shouting out stuff that he should or could buy, I became annoyed. The fact was, I was probably the most qualified person to be stating the facts about laptops. Perhaps it was the fact that I do not often express my thoughts enough for anyone else to notice that I could be a member of the “Geek Squad” at Best Buy. However, this time was different. We were discussing a topic that I enjoyed very much, and I now felt it was my duty to fix the confusion the other kids were telling this man.

Waiting after class, I approached Mr. Houlihan and told him my thoughts about the right laptop for him. Since I had just given a presentation about Sony and Apple computers, he seemed more interested in what I had to say. That was when I knew I had locked my self into an important task. Volunteering to gather research about laptops may not sound like a big deal, but trust me; you do not want to disappoint or mess up in front of Houlihan. One thought that struck me as I turned to leave was wow, how much of a teacher’s pet did you just look like?

I played the game for about a week. I went home, did homework, and then got online to find information. You would not believe how many pc’s I looked at. All of them were perfect except for one thing; the internet card. Mr. Houlihan did not want or need internet on his boat.

“It took me about 15 years to master the basics on that computer,” Houlihan informed me, “I’m only using the thing to type and watch movies. I definitely do not need internet on a laptop.”

Finding portable computers with out internet cards was very tricky because all people use a computer for these days is the internet. But, I couldn’t let a teacher down and look like a fool. So on went the highlighting, and consumer report reading…

The Thursday after volunteering for the job, I had finally narrowed down the best options for Mr. Houlihan. I told him that I had the papers, the info, and my opinion all chosen, and he said he’d talk to me after class. Well, after class came and I stayed and told him I found what he wanted me to.
His excited reply was, “I went and talked to the computer teacher, and you will not believe it, but he said he’d sell me an old laptop of his for fifty bucks!”
My mind was racing with thoughts like dang it and are you kidding? But then I received the compliment I had been waiting for.

“Thank you for your help with this, Marissa. I really appreciate it,” were his exact words.
When Houlihan said those words to me, I felt relieved because I knew I hadn’t let a teacher down. Right after that he gave me another job.

“The thing with this old laptop is that it is so old that it won’t play DVD’s. Do you think you could get the scoop on some of those portable DVD player things?” He asked.
I grinned and said, “Ha! I could sell you one.”
Once the remaining kids left the class, me and “The Old Geezer” negotiated. In the end, the plan was to lend him the DVD player as a free trial and price it after.
Now, if my English teacher could rely on me for find him technology info, why not surprise him with something else. In a previous class, he had talked and talked about flash drives. So I went to Staples and bought him one. Giving him the flash drive was probably the best part of the whole experience.
Although I had the nerd/teacher’s pet reputation, I liked having a teacher who could rely on me. Once I gave the flash drive to The Geezer, it felt like I had done my good deed.
“This is so cool. This is amazing. Oh man. This is too cool.” Houlihan cheered. He was like a kid in a candy store. It was almost like I became the teacher and he the student. Twice I skipped lunch to show him how to work the flash drive, and that was two more times I got the “thank you” comment that I liked. I learned that if I looked at what I was doing as a good, kind, and helpful thing, then I did not have to feel like the nerd, or the teacher’s pet.
To conclude this narrative, I would just like to say that when you respect someone, they respect you back. In early grades, most kids gain respect for their teachers when they are taught something. The experience I went through was the same way. This time however, the lesson was reversed. I – the kid – was given respect from my teacher – Mr. Houlihan. Personally, I don’t want to be known as just an average kid or student. I want to be above average. When you are above average and you have a good ego, you are not thought of as that “preppy kid who does the minimum to get by.” Instead, you are called upon with respect from others. I like that feeling because when I am respected; I respect myself.

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