Glenn Huff’s Spreadsheet

Clearly, Glenn Huff was not in the ADHD family. A ninth-grade dropout, my father had to leave school at fourteen to help his dad run a grocery store. His working memory worked, and he had to exercise it daily. My father could hold a lot of numbers in his head, organize and manipulate them, and solve complex mathematical problems. He also lived on a farm and witnessed his mother counting hens and eggs and estimating yields from their crops.

Today, I met with an accountant for help with some complicated financial issues. I prepared for hours, crunching numbers with a calculator, pen, and notepad. I erased and started over so many times that the numbers looked like the scratches a hen makes in the dirt. I calculated and recalculated so I could ask intelligent questions. The meeting lasted almost two hours, after which I told the accountant that I needed a nap. The effort to follow his dancing numbers, and then extrapolate what I needed, was exhausting.

Glenn Huff could have taken the same information and produced the answers in fifteen minutes. That is no exaggeration. That humble man didn’t think his spreadsheet brain was extraordinary. He just wondered what on God’s green earth was wrong his son who struggled to reconcile a simple bank statement with fifty dollars in the account. I would never measure up to what my dad modeled as normal.

My accountant—a fellow baby boomer—highlighted some differences between the generations, before and after ours. My dad’s generation, he said, had to rely on their brains to do what computers do now. My daughter’s generation, on the other hand, grew up with software that worked like my dad’s brain. Between those generations are the trainable old dogs that must learn new tricks. Successful boomers living well with ADHD will seek help when they need it, instead of being too embarrassed to ask.

Still, if I had the choice, I would take my dad’s spreadsheet brain over spreadsheet software! It never had to be downloaded or upgraded!

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