I’d like to think that I’m not the only one of us who has both rational and irrational fears. For example, I think it’s perfectly natural to be afraid of long and excruciating deaths from awful diseases. Or of falling off of a cliff.
On the other hand, in the irrational category, Gary has a fear of leftovers that are more than a day old. There is a somewhat rational basis for this fear, however, in that his mother was a terrible cook and often gave the family food-poisoning, often to the extent of requiring hospitalization. Whereas I have an irrational fear of having an appendicitis attack while backpacking. And then there was that Pop-Tart injury, but we won’t go into that now.
And I think some of these irrational fears can come with age. I fear that my hair stylist and good friend, Janice, will die before I do. So when I die, my hair will look like crap (more than usual). I think this could be grounds for a suicide pact; note to self to talk with Janice about this.
But some fears you have to deal with alone. Regardless of who I talk to, even my 29-year-old co-worker, has this fear. I thought it was age-based, but I’m wrong:
Going to the Verizon store
I hate everything about going there. Skinny salespeople will ask me for my billing ID and will roll their eyes while I strain my brain to remember…let’s see, which dog was alive three years ago when I set up this password?
I know you’ll be shocked to hear that I am not their target customer. I will never want the latest and greatest thing. Sheesh, I remember even wanting “just a phone, please, without a camera.” Ah, those were the days.
More eye-rolling and endless typing into their computers. Then the pain would always continue on into the next month, when the activation fees would appear on my bill, making it higher than my ridiculous health insurance coverage.
I had been putting it off, right along with ironing. Gary’s phone had been crapping out on a regular basis, sucking through its battery life in moments instead of hours, and closing out of apps without notice or cause. His speaker phone was getting worse which was torture for anyone within 50’ of him. In spite of all of the above, I had been stalling for months. I had even fantasized about ditching the iPhones altogether. That’s how crazy I got. But I have my reasons, both rational and irrational.
You see, after going to three different Verizon retailers (not all of whom are created equally, as I found out the hard way), I had finally found a good guy at a nearby premium Verizon retailer who had helped me with a six-month-long billing issue. After an hour and a half of his wizardry, the problem was resolved and I eventually got my $500 back. So there’s that.
But things had changed. My friend, Sylvia, said she thought that our good guy at Verizon had quit. Who would want to leave a stimulating and exciting job at Verizon Wireless? Gosh, how can it get better than that? Well, indeed, he-who-shall-remain-nameless had moved on. My lifeline to Cell Phone Sanity was GONE.
But last weekend, I had NO choice. Gary’s phone was finally DOA after heating up to epic proportions the day before. At one point, while tromping in the mountains, looking for morel mushrooms on a very cold and rainy day, he considered using his phone like one of those Little Hotties Handwarmer thingies.
Anyway, by the next morning it was dead and could not be resuscitated. Not Gary, the phone.
With dinner company arriving in about four hours and grocery shopping still to do, I headed into town and prayed that I wouldn’t have to wait a half-hour just to start telling some sweet, young thing about our dead iPhone. I feel guilty that something as powerful as prayer could be used on such a thing. Next time, I’ll just bring a flask. There are few things that can’t be solved with good espresso or a cocktail, right?
It was a miracle. No matter what anyone tells you: Prayer works. At least when it comes to Verizon.
I cautiously entered the store, with sweaty palms clutching my grimy three-year-old iPhone 4s, Jurassic model. I spied a young guy at the counter (well, of COURSE he was young), and pounced on him. But, alas, he was a trainee, so he fetched his manager and the three of us sat down to figure things out. It takes a village.
The first thing they said is that my old iPhone was incompatible with the version of the software I was running on it. OK, let’s see by a show of hands: THEN WHY THE HELL DID THE PHONE PROMPT ME, CONTINUALLY, TO UPDATE TO THIS NEW VERSION? REALLY? This planned obsolescence thing has got to stop.
I wanted the cheap, 99-cent phones. I wound up with the $99.99 phones. OK, it was the right thing to do. And I didn’t want the clunky iPhone 6. I am happy being one generation behind. Like I still get a little misty-eyed when I pine for XP. Call me sentimental.
Nope, I don’t want a tablet. What the hell do I need a tablet for? I have a home laptop, a work laptop, and now a spiffy new iPhone 5s. Do I need a tablet to watch movies on a plane that I rarely fly on…or to show pictures of my adorable grandchildren to strangers? Really?
No. But I DO need a tablet, I found out. I can ponder those lovely Google Sheets from work on it. I can maybe even forego lugging my laptop around, if I get a keyboard for the tablet thingy. And, did I mention that it’s FREE?
Oh, well, no. Maybe “free” isn’t entirely accurate. In addition to the cursed activation fee, I have to pay $150 for it, get a $120 rebate in four to six weeks, and then the monthly charge for it is, as they say in the Verizon business, “a wash.” So, it’s kinda sorta free. Like kinda sorta pregnant, only different. And shorter-lived. This baby ain’t gonna be around for 18 years. And, oh, by the way, this super-duper offer ends tomorrow. Then I’d have to pay $150 for it, which I would NEVER do.
The Boss Lady whizzed through the tablet demo in thirty seconds, leaving me with little knowledge, other than where the power button was. But I’m OK with that. I’ll figure it out one of these days; I’ll get one of my grandsons to show me how to use it.
But wait, there’s more.
For a mere $30, I get the plastic cover-thingy put on each phone by a highly-trained, plastic-thingy-attacher from Verizon. So the next time I spill Thai panang curry on my iPhone, I can take it back in and they’ll replace it. For FREE. I can do this whenever I want for the next two years. Wow, yet more opportunities to go to the Verizon store.
Gary just called to tell me he spilled Starbucks coffee on his new phone. See, it’s paying for itself already. Have YOU ever tried to attach one of those plastic thingies on your own? ‘Nuf said.
Wait for it…
Feeling all giddy from the excitement of the new phones, I boldly asked them what they’d give me for our old iPhone 4s. We settled for $40 each. Not bad for a dinosaur.
The Boss Lady then grabbed our old iPhones and I felt a twinge. The same twinge I feel when I trade in my loyal Subaru and watch the guy from the dealership drive her away. I’m back to Square One again. New phone, new model, new things to learn, new frustrations, and new stuff. Such is life.
She transferred all of our data to the new phones while telling me about how this game and that game were going to be the end of her. And how she was OCD-this and ADD-that. I pretended to not only understand, but to care. I’m not sure she bought it. I knew she was just killing time; a man with four unruly children had just walked through the door and she was hoping that the other experienced staff would take care of them. This was not her first rodeo.
Forty-five minutes later, after generating a mountain of paperwork for this new, two-year commitment, we were done. I have signed less paperwork when I bought a house. Now, the hard part. I was going to have to re-create this entire scenario when I explained it to Gary. I would leave out the eye-rolling and focus on the major selling points. Longer battery life, better microphone, clearer screen, 4G. I could do this. He would go for it.
And there was the ability to add a Thumb ID, after all. That alone was worth it, don’t you think?
I ran out of the Verizon store and into the grocery store, relieved, somewhat panicked, and more than a little bit poorer. As I flew down the aisles, I thought about how smart phones have become part of the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy. A strange thought, you’ll agree.
And as I drove home a few minutes later, I thought of all of the other technological wonders that I own but I’ve managed to mostly ignore:
- iPod Shuffle
- Garmin GPS
- Sony digital recorder
- Jabra car microphone
And someday I’ll have to face the fact that I have a dumb TV. That will be a dark day.
My love-hate relationship with technology is a lot like how I feel about alcohol. I can’t live with it; I can’t live without it. It serves me well; it lets me down. If I use it too much, I feel lousy. If I use it too little, I feel guilty that I bought it.
Let’s face it. I wish I could lose weight as easily as I lose my cell phone. And I wish this new camera didn’t take selfies than were worse than my old phone.
Such problems to have.
Thanks for reading. I know how busy you are.