Well, not me personally no, but my dearly departed, or departing cell phone apparently is a technical dinosaur. In this time of technical advances, it does not require the passage of much time to achieve that particular status. Isn’t that what they say about cell phones? You don’t even have to drive them off the lot before they…Oh. Okay, that is what they say about cars. But if your brand new amazing cell phone is in your car and you drive it off the lot, same thing.
I am not a fan of built in obsolesence. I cannot tell you how many coffee makers my husband and I have owned in almost thirty five years of marriage. But, I digress.
It all started earlier last week when my cell phone, my near constant companion for over two years, (close to three years) began a gradual but definite cascading systems failure. One or two apps at a time began to malfunction. Phone calls abruptly ending in mid sent….like that. The first few times it happened, I thought it was the other person’s phone. But it happened on another call, so maybe not.
One malfunction was just an annoyance, but when it hit my texting app, I knew I was in trouble. I could live without the weather app, I could just look out the window at the sky, or open the door and step out onto the porch, but receiving or responding to a text without a messaging app, much trickier.
Since I am somewhat limited in the area of technical expertise (I have technical experience, it is the expertise that I lack), I took my myself and my phone to the closest box store, to the young, enthusiastic, helpful, though not necessarily trained, clerks at the electronics counter. They have saved my bacon before with phone issues.
There, not one, but two, kind and facile young men did their best to figure out the problem. They asked questions, they tried maneuvers, they they put their heads together with their combined understanding of all things electronic and finally said, “We don’t know what the problem is; you should probably take it to Best Buy and ask them to run an analysis.”
It was not what I wanted to do, I had lofty plans of baking or writing or reading for that afternoon, but no, that was not to be. I had a brief conversation with a friendly, understanding person, a tech rep, who was able to schedule an appointment for me for that afternoon. We are talking a one-hour drive, plus time to take Sheba for a quick walk, to ensure her water-tight integrity during her unexpected confinement, grab a snack for the road and any essentials.
Roger dropped me off at Best Buy, and went to run an errand. I got to the right counter, verified my appointment and explained the problem to the technician, handing my phone to him. He looked, made a few quick moves on the phone, looked up and said. “I’m not seeing it. It’s not doing it now.”
You know that feeling when you are having car problems, get it to the mechanic and the vehicle in question fails to demonstrate its failures? Yup. An hour drive, an approaching weekend, one open time slot for the appointment. I looked at the young man and said, “Well, could you text my phone and see what happens?” I had deleted all the previous text messages and a few other things, trying to lighten the load of data on my phone since it kept crashing.
The tech guy obliged and finally saw that it was not working. He had also checked the weather app. He allowed as how it was likely the age of the phone, and that at a certain point companies stop supporting their products with updates. This, probably around the two year mark.
Reader, be you male or female, if you are of a certain age, go to the doctor with an issue and are told “It is probably your age!” Don’t you just love it? No, me neither. Less so when the problem is a piece of technology that is under three years old.
Fortunately, for me and my sanity, my phone did, under his expert care, demonstrate that something was indeed wrong. He was able to offer me a temporary fix, by force stopping a few programs, which he said you shouldn’t have to do. He also implied, that my phone’s days were probably numbered.
I left the store, not happy to have a problem with my phone, but happy enough to be taken seriously. And, happy to be going into the weekend with a phone that was working. I drive alone a lot. Even if I am less than an hour away I generally, though not always, phone my husband to let him know I am on my way. I like that he has a time-line and also a sense of what roads I am on, in case there is a problem. Sometimes I employ a line from a much loved Boston DJ from the 1960’s, who ended every radio show by saying, “Put on the coffee honey, I’m coming home!”
Two days later, I was leaving church to come home. I called to check in and barely got 4 words out when my call dropped. It wasn’t a cell tower problem. It had been happening over the last week, one of many cascading defects. But this time when my call disappeared, I wasn’t sitting at my desk at home in fluffy slippers with my dog by my side and my hubby nearby. This time I was behind the wheel of my car, on a two-lane curvy, hilly, country road and I felt vulnerable.
You can be someplace where there are not enough bars to make a call, but this was not that place. My phone, my constant companion had let me down for the last time. So for a second time in less than forty-eight hours, I found myself at the box store, shopping for a new phone.
So, here’s the thing. A lot has changed up since I bought my last cell phone. I am an Android kind of girl, which I have previously described as a ‘Sort of’ smart phone. This model has so many bells and whistles that there was not any obvious place for the phone icon to show up. I spent about ten minutes, ten slightly panicked minutes trying to figure out how to find it and wondering if I had bought a phone at all or just a highly sophisticated jumble of parts and plastic that might also be used to make a phone call. There is a difference.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate some of the features of my phone. While my husband is fond of describing his cell phone by pointing out, “This is a phone, it makes phone calls. That is all I need.” He has every right to feel that way; it works for him, but I want more. And, although my phone does have fun features, I consider it a necessity to be able to connect with parishioners and colleauges. But, while I struggled to figure out how to use this new phone, I was close to agreeing with him. I was close to throwing the %&#!! thing.
I am a pretty smart cookie, all things considered, but I have described myself as a-technical for years. While I am happy about the amazing improvements that modern technology offers us, some days it feels like too much of a good thing, or too much of a new thing.
Some senior citizens are absolute tech wonders. But not all of us are; I have several parishioners now and even more in the past who do not own a computer, have no interest in being online, but in today’s world not everyone recognizes that fact.
When we got a new television last year, after our old one had given up the ghost, we were both frustrated when it turned out that we had to do the set up and start up online. If technology is not your middle name, that can be a challenge. When you go to an icon that says HELP, because you desperately need help, but are led to articles to read instead, not helpful; just saying.
In general, I wish there was a happy medium, between the latest, newest, high-tech phone and a low tech flip phone that requires great concentration and tenacity to tap out a text because you have to tap the keys the correct number of times to equal a specific letter.
Or, if you wish, a happy medium between the high tech “get’em while they’re hot” phone and a Life Alert System. I wish, that our demographic was important enough to provide something that is more user-friendly. We have money to spend too!
I had a Pollyanna overdose as a kid, and I try to be a positive influence in a cranky world. But somedays, I fall short. Maybe I am a dinosaur.
Not holding back the tide.
Copyright 2021 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com
Sharing on Esme’s Senior Salon and Natalie the Explorer’s Weekend Coffee Share