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Defenestraphobia – Fear of Windows

My friend, aged 60+, decided to buy a computer. She had been fearfully using them at work and knew she could do a much better job if she gained more expertise. The day her computer arrived via UPS she called me on the telephone. “It has too many parts. How do I hook it together?”

“Everything is color coded,” I told her, but still she asked me to come and help. I went.

After hooking her computer together and making certain her programs were in operating order, I left her to play, search, and discover. I reminded her that I was as close as her phone should she need anything, then I returned home.

Forty-five minutes later my phone rang. I answered. My friend’s voice came across the line — urgent. Seriously stressed. “When will they be here? How long do I have?”

“When will who what?” I felt like I’d walked into the middle of some suspense theater episode. “Slow down and explain.”

She answered, her voice high and tense, “I don’t know what I did. I tried to open Word and a warning came up on my computer. It said I operated something illegally and my computer was shutting down! When will they be here?”

I did not laugh. Instead I asked — very dryly — ” When will who be there? The computer police?”

Several seconds of silence were followed by her rueful query, “I’m over-reacting, huh?”

Then I laughed.

I told OC the above story over breakfast this morning. He responded very formally, “Really, her reaction was perfectly understandable given the unfortunate use of the word illegal.”

I smiled. “You did the same thing, didn’t you?”

He shrugged sheepishly, “Well, pretty close — but I didn’t call anybody.”

I laughed.

“Besides,” he defended, “Windows should be illegal!”

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. oh those windows. i first met with them in a controlled environment at work so had no similar episodes…
    but this was funny as ever!

  2. AMEN Brother OC! LOL! I would have to agree! But the one I hate is… (and of course, we all do) … FATAL ERROR! *gasp!* Cuz then you really ARE in trouble!!! WAH!

  3. ROFL!!! This is probably the best blog title I’ve ever read!

    Computer terminology is a bit funky. Just wait for her reaction to master/slave drives, and male/female connectors. Then there are the Kernals, which have nothing to do with corn. And just imagine what will happen if she gets really good at exploring the computer and mistakenly believes that her File Allocation Tables are calling her FAT.

    But you know something? Maybe it was illegal. Her Word program certainly arrested, didn’t it? lol

  4. Polona — the first time I saw the windows warning I had about 3 seconds of panic, then logic took over.

    Melli — you just cracked me up.

    Brig — yep. Off to the Windows jail it went.

  5. This was funny and way too close to home. We had a grant to provide computers to our Senior Citizens Center and training for their use. Once the trainers had departed, I was their phone contact. Within days I was celebrating my fearless nature.

  6. SN — I think we all have a few foolish fears lurking inside.

    Pauline — thanks! Glad you liked it.

    Kat — yeah, our laughter at such stories is part relief that it wasn’t us, and rueful acknowledgment that the next dumb act will be our own.

  7. Dr. John — OC is a Mac man. He also thinks PCs should be used as door stops, although, reconsidering, he said he wasn’t certain they were qualified for that job, either.

  8. I thought “Windows jail” was a stand-alone PC with no Internet connection. At first Windoze starts asking politely for the Internet. Then it becomes more urgent, recommending ways you can connect. If you still fail to connect, it gets absolutely frantic, throwing errors and warnings about things it can’t find but can surely find if you simply connect to the Internet.

    After a few weeks without communication to the Mother Ship, most PC’s really get nervous and start freaking out at every request. They begin to play harmonica midi files and clink their CPU’s (as opposed to cups) against the bars of their metal cages.

    If that’s not Windows jail, what is?

  9. Morgan — that was brilliant. Of course you are correct.

    Nessa — yesterday we got another hit, but we’re clean today. And we knew it wasn’t you. Your impostor had misspelled your SN, changed your email accordingly, dropped one letter from your URL and had a totally different IP address. You are coming through just fine.

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