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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Technology $32.44; Me-0

I’ve pulled more dumb stunts in my life than I can count, but one of the dumbest was forgetting my cell phone in the pocket of my jeans when I tossed them in the washing machine.

Did you know those little cell phones are not waterproof?

Yep, the engineers never designed those little suckers to swim. At least mine wasn’t. Maybe some of the more expensive models know how, but they’d be way too expensive for me.

Anyway, I took the phone apart, used a hair dryer to dry it out, put it back together, and clicked it on.

I really wasn’t surprised when nothing lit up. The screen was blank. I plugged it in to the charger and got a few lights, but that was all.

Next morning, half the numbers functioned. The others were deader than a beaver hat. I may be dense, but even I recognized there was no way I could get by with only half the numbers.

While I’d had the phone six years, the extent of my expertise was limited--flip it open, punch in a number, hit speaker, and talk. Oh yeah, and hope my brain wouldn’t short-circuit trying to adjust to the pauses between each exchange of conversation.
So, knowing the little phone was beyond resuscitation, I bought a new one.

My first cost thirty-five a month. Naturally, taxes, service fees, transportation fees, FDIC fees, bird hazard fees, and any other they could tack on brought it up to forty-five.

Since I seldom use the phone, I purchased the cheapest package, the thirty-five dollar one, which I knew would be forty-five. When I learned I could receive pictures, I decided I wanted to send pictures also. Another five bucks plus fees and charges for a tidy fifty bucks.

My first bill was fifty-five. The extra five was some kind of tax. Antidisestablishment cybersocial services or something like that. They get you coming and going.

With this phone, I did more than with the first. I learned how to put in a contact list (I told you I was a virtual idiot with them), take and send pictures, and do some texting, which has to be the most boring, wasteful activity in a person’s life other than listening to a Republican harangue or a Democrat’s promises. (an Obama self-aggrandizing speech with all his posturing would fit in here also)

I even learned how to send pictures to my or another’s email, a chore that took me a couple weeks to master. In the time I’ve owned this phone, I’ve become a pest with questions at the small store where I purchased it. First time in, I couldn’t get pictures. The clerk looked at the phone, his fingers blurred as they punched numbers before he announced with a hint of disdain. “You’re not online.”

I stared blankly at him. “Am I supposed to be?”

He sort of sneered. “How else can you send and receive pictures?”

“Beats me. Magic?.”

He didn’t laugh. “Well, you don’t have them.”

Brilliant deduction. “I know that. How do I get them?”

“Oh, I can do it for you. No problem.”

His fingers blurred once again. Moments later he announced the job complete. When I asked why I hadn’t been online, he replied “No idea.”

It took me a month to figure out how to put in periods, question marks, and other forms of punctuation. I still can’t figure out to change the ringer, but I did discover how to increase the volume of the ear set. So now I don’t have to turn on the speaker each time I use the phone.

And then I discovered I could go online with that little jewel. I couldn’t believe it. For only fifty-five dollars a month, I could talk, take pictures, send email, text, and go online.

You idiot, I told myself, look what you’ve been missing.

I took pictures of everything, even my Siamese cat sleeping in a dry birdbath, and sent them to everyone. When out shopping with my wife, I passed my time going online and keeping up to date on various current events.

All was right with this great big wonderful world.

The next month when I received my bill, my great big wonderful world exploded. $87.44!

Let me tell you, I lost no time calling the store and demanding why my bill was thirty-two dollars more than it was supposed to be.

The young lady was very patient. “Did you use any data?”

“Data? What’s that?”

“Did you take pictures, go online, or anything like that?”

Uh oh! The grim truth ballooned in front of my eyes. “Ah, well, yeah, I might have,” I replied weakly.

“You have to pay for that,” she said primly.

Technology-$32.44; Me-0, an all too familiar score whenever I take on the modern world.

My only consolation is the old saw, ‘fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.’

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