Well, I just got a smart phone. It was my niece Caitlin’s idea. To tell you the truth, I was fine with my old cell phone, but she insisted.
“Aunt Ida,” she says, “with your book coming out, you’re going to need one of these. If you’re doing a reading, and people want to buy your book, you can use your phone and little credit card gizmo to make the transaction.”
She made the whole thing sound so easy, I got to thinkin’, why not?
That’s the thing with technology. It just sucks you in. Like dyeing your hair. One day, your hair dresser says, “Let’s put a few blonde highlights into that drab brown, what do you say? Give you that sun-kissed look.” And before you know it, you’re into getting your hair frosted, then on to the hard core stuff: processed color, processed color with partial highlights, then with full highlights. Time passes, and pretty soon you can’t even remember what your real hair color was, and you’re dropping big bucks every six weeks so you don’t have to.
Same with technology. You start with a pay-as-you-go phone, then, what the heck, let’s get a regular cell phone. Then there’s any number of reasons why you should dump your cell phone for a smart phone. Meanwhile, if you’re like me, you still don’t know half of what you can do on your old cell phone!
But, trying new things keeps you young, right? And Caitlin has faith in me. Besides, she says she’ll coach me through the whole smart phone transition. Trouble is, she can’t be with me every minute of the day. Like going to buy the darn thing. I had my heart set on doin’ it a week ago Saturday, but Caitlin had to work.
“Not to worry, Aunt Ida,” she says. “I’ll write down exactly what you need to ask for. You have them transfer the data, and I’ll drop by on my way home from the Health Food Store. Give you a little lesson.”
“Gee, I don’t know, Caitlin…”
“You can do it. It’s easy. Don’t let them psyche you out.”
So I drive to Bangor to get my smart phone. After giving myself a little pep talk in the car, I go into the store. And it’s all young fellas workin’ there. I’m guessin’ none of ‘em’s over 30. Meanwhile, all the customers are middle-aged people walking around in a daze. There’s somethin’ so wrong about that.
I know it’s my turn when my name flashes on an overhead screen, and a young salesman, calls me over. “Connor,” it says on his name tag. He doesn’t even look me in the eye. Just gazes down at his screen and says, “Are you 4538?”
What the hell! I’m thinking. Then I realize that 4538’s the last four digits of my phone number.
“Yup,” I reply. “Better known as Ida.”
No smile from Connor, but that got him to make eye contact, anyways. So I read to him what I want, and he tries to talk me into waiting for the newer, more powerful model to be released and maybe I should get an iPad to tide me over. But I hang tough, and finally he agrees to let me spend a couple hundred bucks on a new phone. Then Connor proceeds to tell me what else I need. Like a film to cover the front of my smart phone, and a case to protect the rest of it because without these, it’ll break if you look at it wrong! See apparently, a smart phone comes into the world naked, and you have to dress it up before you take it home. That was my favorite part. There’s all these different kinds of cases to chose from, and colors and designs. I got one that’s just adorable, pink with flowers. Oh, and I needed a charger for my car, too, ‘cause now that I have it, I’m gonna want it juiced up all the time.
So Connor disappears to put the phone in the case, the film on the phone and whatever else he has to do. And I wander around lookin’ at all the other shiny, magical things in the store. And somethin’ strange starts to happen. Pretty soon I’m thinking, maybe one of those iPads would be a good idea. And oh, look at this thingy, you put your phone in and it plays music! But then Connor’s back with my smart phone, lookin’ sharp in its new pink outfit. He asks, “Is there’s anything else you need?”
And Techno-Zombie Ida says, “I don’t know, Connor, is there something else I need?” That's when I realize this is no different than being at the hairdresser. I’ll buy anything Patsy tells me to. Anything! Thank goodness, Connor just wants to process me and move on to the next dazed and confused middle-aged person.
Before I leave the store, I make him give me a little lesson, you know, get me started. I also asked him to set up my email, so I can make sure I don’t miss any opportunities to improve my sex life or help out an African prince. But he couldn’t do it, ‘cause I didn’t know the password. So, off I go with my new smart phone that does everything shy of makin’ your bed, but all I can do is make calls on it. Just like my old phone.
Caitlin tried to set up my email for me, but couldn’t, so I had to go back to the store and have them do it. (Things like this always involved a minimum of two trips.) I got a different young fella this time who did basically what Caitlin did, but apparently knew the magic words.
So finally, I’m all set. I can get email on my phone, though I can barely read it, the writing is so small, and I can’t erase anything. Weird! And I keep getting into places on the phone I can’t get out of. Or, a microphone appears and asks me what I want, but when I want the microphone, I can’t find it. I guess that’s why they’re called smart phones. They’re smarter than the person using ‘em. At least in my case.
But I’m determined to figure this thing out ‘cause I’m nothin’ if not stubborn. And like being a brunette, I’m sure someday I’ll look back on this time and think, I don’t even remember what life was like without my smart phone!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!