Cellphones – A Little Too Much Change

Change doesn’t come easy. People get comfortable with what they know and what they have. I read a letter by  Rebecca Skidmore (1825-1919) who lived in Lakewood NJ and now resides in Hope Cemetery there. In it she lamented about all the fuss electricity ushered in. “Life was so much better when you didn’t have so many things to be a worriment”. Sounds so laughable to us today but imagine her serenity in front of the fireplace, the meditative atmosphere of homemade candles and family conversation to pass the evening.

Clyde from Phillipsburg New Jersey was an old man when we laid sewer pipe together back in the ‘60’s.  P’Burg is a blue collar town. Plenty of rough and tumble guys live there. Rough and tumblers seem to have a  harder time with change than most. Clyde talked of his father who refused to have a toilet in his house. Preferred the outhouse. The idea of doing his business under the same roof where he ate just didn’t sit well with Pa. Again, it seems absurd to us until we look a little closer at his circumstances. A lot of old houses back then were built with the bathroom right next to the kitchen. Interior design, evidently, was in its infancy and the need for separation of these two functions had not yet made their way into  architecture 101. I grew up in a house like that in Lakewood. The memory of Grandpa, oblivious to the aura of noxious fumes that clung to him, buckling his pants as he emerged just steps from the kitchen table live on to this day. One Thanksgiving we had to launch an emergency fire drill just to dodge the parasitic vapors. When we returned, the vegetable soup had grown cold. And so it was Grandma who actually invented gazpacho. Maybe Clyde’s Dad was not so nutty after all.

In retrospect, those changes seem so commonplace and easy to accept. And I’m sure that will be true with buying a cellphone. But that’s in retrospect. I made the transitions, with a fair amount of reluctance, from a landline to a pager to a flip phone to a smartphone. Each progression was accompanied by confusion and anxiety, Now I’m advised my iphone is outdated and I’m eligible for an upgrade.

I went to an AT&T store in Freehold. A very knowledgeable and patient young man waited on me. He waited on me for two hours in a language I had never heard before. My cellphone has 16 gigabytes. For seven hundred bucks I could double that. For a couple hundred more – 256. Imagine – 256 gigabytes! I couldn’t believe my luck. “What’s a gigabyte?”, I asked. “Each gigabyte is 1024 megabytes”, he replied. Well! At least we got that cleared up.

He continued, “Then there’s the Android. Model LGB.” I didn’t know if he was selling me a phone or a gay robot. With the Android, I can change fonts. That’s important you know; I hate it when my fonts stagnate. Plus there’s a mini-setting menu for turning my Bluetooth (I have a bluetooth? Does my dentist know?) and Wifi off and on. The directions are in “bookmarks”. As soon as I get the directions to bookmarks, I should be good to go.

Things do change too quickly; so I want to stay ahead of the curve. “Is that the top of the line?”, I wanted to know. Of course not; there’s the Moto-X. It can also be used as a projector and Motorola’s running a special. It is normally $300 and the projector could be mine for free before the expiration date. The offer expires Tuesday. This was Monday.

My sales guy prefers the Android over the Moto-X because it has two windows which allows for multitasking. Multitasking? I’ve yet to accomplish unitasking but two windows is definitely a selling point. That way while I try to figure out one, I could jump out the other. Both of them offer DirectTV. Now I can watch television on my iphone and it uses no data, which is great because, in spite of massive daily doses of Vitamin D, I’m sure I suffer from a data deficiency. All I’ll have to do is switch providers, make an appointment for a technician to rearrange my house, teach me a whole new viewing protocol, and sign up for the special 2-year price guarantee that also expires Tuesday but can be extended because I’m such a loyal customer. I’m always skeptical of deals that have a sunset date. “What happens at the end of two years”, asked I.  “There’ll probably be a new promotion or you can switch companies”’ replied he. So I have that to look forward to.

It’s wonderful that I can get a phone to replace my television, computer, flashlight, eyeglasses, calculator, radio, watch, alarm clock, and newspaper. Now if it could only keep my beer cold, I won’t need electricity – just like Rebecca.

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