I know I am growing old now. Things that would not have even caused a single psychic flutter before can now discombobulate for hours, nay, days. Minor annoyances become major disruptions; small irritations generate immediate flashes of mighty anger; and some individuals, once tolerated with mild amusement, fall into the “must avoid” or “for crying out loud” category!
Take this weekend when my Android phone of eight years usage would no longer charge by cable. As the battery slowly drained to 5%, I made up my mind to get another if it could not be repaired. No luck with the “Phone Medic,” so I reluctantly headed to the Verizon store. On a scale of one to one hundred with one hundred being the strongest, Verizon stores rank somewhere around 125 in the dislike category. Store employees consider anyone who walks in to be an idiot, unable to understand basic concepts of technology, which when combined with advanced age, makes a person like me a real dummy! Sadly, they are right. I’ve managed to live through the television, computer, internet, drones, and self-driving cars ages without killing myself through ignorance. In a Verizon store, however, I feel my string of luck has played out, and I seriously contemplate the moral and physical questions inherent in committing suicide. I would never do it, but, once that store door closes, such thoughts become paramount! Sweet Jesus, deliver me! Here I go into the bowels of Hell-on-Earth!
My wife and my long-time friend, Scaramouche, both have iPhones and they have been after me to get one. I have objected strenuously for years because I just plain and simply did not care for Steve Jobs, but I relented.
I selected the simplest, cheapest, and smallest iPhone on display. I grudgingly agreed to pay the $400, and to add a case, screen protector, and whatever else the salesman told me I needed. The total was now $550. I guess I needed all that stuff, but since I had not planned to meander past the “Phone Medic,” I had neglected to wear my hearing aids (another abomination!), so I was a sitting target for whatever the salesman decided I needed! (Are they on commission?) No worry—let’s get ‘er done!
Seated at a desk while waiting for my salesman (my chair was lower than his—an old psychological trick to ensure dominance), Stephen, to gather all the required materials, I noticed a wireless charger on the desk next to the one I was at. On the spur of the moment, I put my old phone on it and noticed that a light came on and that it started charging. Interesting!
Stephen returned with an arm load of stuff. “You are going to transfer all my contacts and stuff, aren’t you—I need those,” I asked pitiably?
“I can’t do that because the Android system and the iPhone systems are not compatible, plus your old phone has no juice.”
“Well,” I said, “what if I buy a new Android phone instead?”
“It might be possible to transfer the information through the Internet,” he responded as if he was talking to a five-year-old on the first day of kindergarten. “Let me see what we have in stock.” He whipped out a portable computer that looked like it could provide the brains for the Mars or Luna landings. “Here’s the Galaxy A12, but it’s only $299, and you’ll need…”
“I’ll take it! Get the stuff!” He wanted payment, so I handed him a credit card. Two seconds later, I was $350 poorer.
In the meanwhile, I noticed that my old phone had been slowly charging.
Stephen returned with another arm load of stuff, began breaking open boxes, and assembling pieces like he was putting together an Ikea bed, all the while mumbling through a face mask and a plexiglass shield. Without my hearing aids, all I could detect was, “Mmmurmur, mumur, mumble—laugh, laugh—nod, nod.” It was like I was in a foreign country! On the next desk, my old phone charged away.
When Stephen had finally finished assembling my new Lego phone, he looked at me, lowered his mask, and got close to the plexiglass shield and said (with a devilish grin on his face), “Now the fun starts!”
Before he could plug in the several cables he had next to him, I innocently asked, “If I could charge my old phone, can you do this more quickly?”
He laughed at how naïve I was, thinking I could resuscitate my old phone after he had pronounced it dead and gone.
“Well,” I said, “while you were busy, I stuck it on this wireless charger and it’s charging.”
He looked at me with a disbelieving look that became a downright hateful look when he saw my old phone had indeed come back to life. “Well, once it starts to go, it’ll go. However, I can transfer your data now.”
I had an automobile battery like that once. I must have charged it everyday for a month before it finally gave up the ghost and just died. Dead as a door nail. No resuscitation possible! Gone to that great battery heaven in the sky—or wherever dead batteries go. I must confess that I found myself harboring thoughts about Stephen and his batteries, but quickly gave them up as unattainable without having to do considerable prison time.
Beaten down, I said go ahead, and he began what became a two-hour brain transfer operation. Have you ever tried to recall all your passwords for all your applications? I have a file that I keep them in, but it was on my desktop computer at home. To cut to the chase, he managed to do that. As I was preparing to leave, he said, “You might want to buy a wireless charger.”
I agreed, and reached for my credit card again, but he said, “I’ll just add this to your monthly bill. No credit card needed.”
“Thanks,” I said, desperately needing to finish and find a bathroom.
“Oops,” said Stephen, “for some reason it added everything but 35 cents to your monthly bill. Do you have change in your pocket?”
I don’t carry change. “Nope,” I responded. “Don’t carry change.”
“Could I have your credit card?” I handed him the card, and he did it! Charged 35 cents on my card! Well, go ahead, little man! Do your damnedest! At least I’m saving $200, and I don’t have to carry an iPhone!
He handed me the card back, put everything in a nice sack, gave it to me, wished me luck, and disappeared before I could ask him where the bathroom was. Fortunately, there was a 7-11 next door!
I now have a resurrected old phone, a new phone that I cannot begin to operate, and a strong dislike for Stephen, Steve Jobs, and cell phones! I might even throw in Zuckerman, Bezos, and Musk in the hate file. Come to think of it, I will!
I also hate being old!