Saturday, August 26, 2023

Torture By Telephone

[ Let Inga Tell You, La Jolla Light, published August 28, 2023] 2023

I would rather get a root canal and a colonoscopy simultaneously than get a new cell phone. And no, I am not kidding.

I had genuinely hoped I would die before my phone did. But the phone decided to force the issue.

IOS just wasn't reliably supporting my iPhone 7 anymore. Even upgrading to the latest version something I only do when the phone pretty much ceases to work wasn't helping. In fact, it seemed to be making it worse.

I am a person with genuine talents. But even people who love me would agree I am not just techno-challenged but deeply, profoundly, techno-disabled. Whatever synapses were involved in techno skills failed to survive my gestation. It does not help that I have a frustration tolerance of a gnat.

Was it time for a Jitterbug the phone heavily advertised in AARP Magazine for techno-inept oldies? Or did I still have one more iPhone in me?

I went with the iPhone partly because I really enjoy FaceTiming with the grandkids, but because I was also under the (extremely false) illusion that I already knew how to use one.

Unfortunately, the operation of the iPhone 14 is totally different from the iPhone 7. They're as alike as cousins twice removed who were adopted at birth. My old phone had a little Home button at the bottom that was heavily involved in the operation of the phone. It's gone! (The SE still has a Home button for iPhone Luddites but it's too small for me.)

Now you have to swipe, but just so. It s definitely all in the wrist.

At the phone store, I was fobbed off on a nice young commission-oriented kid who was probably as unenthusiastic about dealing with me as I was with dealing with him.

We were speaking completely different languages.

How many gigs did I usually use, he inquired. (No idea.)

How much do I use Apple Pay? (Don't even know what that is.)

Do I need a hot spot? (Not unless he means a jacuzzi.)

I really need to switch to AutoPay if I want a better deal. (Not happening.)

Was I sure my husband wouldn't be willing to get a new phone too? (Nope and stop asking.)

The kid was pushing the iPhone 14 Plus Pro which has three cameras. I could take cinema-quality movies! (Um, do I look like Steven Spielberg?)

Things were going downhill fast. Rather than slash my wrists with a plastic screen cover, I gathered up my stuff, thanked him for his time, and walked out the door.

Fortunately, the young woman who I had hoped to work with came running after me. She said if I would return, she would swap her current customers with the young kid since she was almost finished.

This young woman was basically an iPhone therapist, skilled at dealing with the aged techno-terrified.

So, she says, soothingly, what is the most important feature to you on a phone?

That I can use it, I said.

How about the second most important feature?

Maximum screen size.

So it's easier to read? She queries 

Yup, and so I can post the most directions on the back of it. I showed her the back of my phone. A brief frown flashed across her brow.

We determined fairly quickly that the right phone for me was going to be the iPhone 14Plus with two cameras (not the cinema-quality Pro variation that the kid was pushing). And she was confident that with practice, I could learn to swipe. (Sounds faintly larcenous.)

While not a natural swiper, I am slowly getting the hang of it, although several times I have found myself unable to get out of a screen. Even turning the phone off doesn't help; when you turn it back on, the same annoying screen is still there. Banging the phone on a granite counter top doesn't help either. (Just kidding).

Alas, the new phone had some immediate glitches when I got it home wouldn't send or receive calls (major flaws in a phone), and was sending text messages to people's email. My husband (see frustration tolerance, above) had odds that this phone was going to end up in the pool.

In lieu of this, trips back to the store were required.

Guess what fixed the calling problems? Turning the phone to airplane mode then turning it off again. How are ordinary humans supposed to figure that out??? When those Apple people (or my engineer husband) refer to cell phones as intuitive, I want to smite them.

I will concede that it has one sort of cool feature (I am only willing to concede one.) It has facial recognition in lieu of typing in your passcode. But then I fantasized my care givers in the dementia facility being able to hold the phone up to my face and stealing all my data.

But I definitely don t have enough emotional bandwidth to ever do this again. And I truly mean ever.


Maximum screen size important
to be able to cram in the most instructions possible



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