Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Buying a phone and other terrors

I bought a new phone. Control your excitement. As always, switching from the old to the new caused great anxiety. The change was overdue as my old phone—Josephine—could only charge if you bent the plug in a certain way and often would reboot in the middle of calls. Of course, I had dropped her many times, so I’m not blaming the phone, but I would have been content to use her for years more. Alas, poor Josephine had met her Waterloo.

It would have been easier to select a new phone if there weren’t so many models. While selling insurance, I learned to never present more than three plans; too many choices confused customers and left them unable to make decisions.

I determined to not be overwhelmed. I had a plan. I had willpower. Wasn’t I able to reduce hardened telemarketers to tears? Wasn’t I capable of getting exactly what I wanted from restaurants? I marched confidently into the cell phone store. Thirty minutes later, I was draped across a counter surrounded by dozens of phones and calling plans while the evil salesman kept pulling out other options. Black, white, silver, green, hideously pink, red, blue, and purple phones. Large screens, small screens, big bezels, small bezels, less memory, more memory, 12 meg cameras, apps, apps, apps... Shattered, I left the store without buying a phone.

I decided I would have no cell phone. None! But my roomie said I had to have a phone at least for vehicle emergencies. (My car is getting old; there are fewer and fewer places to buy coal for it.) Although I told him I would start life anew wherever my car broke down, he insisted.

This time I went to the people I should have gone to in the first place: my roomie's children and their helpful spouses who do things with their phones that would get them burned at the stake as witches if cell phones had been around when witch burning was a town celebration. Finally, after much deliberation and even more complaining, I picked one, but the sale was over, so I thought I would have to start over. Everyone groaned, and there may have been some weeping.

Fortunately, phone companies have more sales than Wal-Mart. The phone I picked went on a sale at an even better price! I marched down to the store, and an hour later, I owned my very first smart phone with text, Internet, data plan, and more apps than I will ever use.

It’s been a couple of weeks, and I do like the phone, although I have discovered a few things about it that give me pause.

First, since my old phone had the text capacity of a telegraph, I rarely knew what was going. Crisis after crisis was solved with me never knowing about them since I couldn’t read group texts. Now, I’m in the know. To put in my two cents: I don’t think he’s cheating on you; yes, she dyes her hair; the llamas should be set free; he had his neck lifted; and you should see a doctor about that rash immediately.

Second, I’ve had to get used to actually carrying a phone. I rarely had my old phone unless I was in the car. In fact, it was rarely charged, but I had a car charger. Now, I have to keep track of it.

Third, I never worried about anyone stealing Josephine. Who would want the poor thing? And while my phone isn’t an iPhone®—I have not been assimilated by Apple®—it could be a target. More reason to keep track of it.

Finally, sales people are actually calling me on my cell phone. Of course, they rapidly learn that is unwise. And I shouldn’t really complain. There are few things finer than listening to telemarketers weep in the morning.

(Excepted from Floozy Comes Back by Stephen B. Bagley. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.)