Getting with the 21st Century … sort of

Lea Wait here. And I admit. I am not a cellphone addict.

I don’t think I’m technologically illiterate. I spend most of my days (and evenings) on my computer. I’ve mastered (pretty much) Windows 8.  I’m not only comfortable with Facebook — I actually love it! I’ve just joined Goodreads, so my verdict is out on that one, but it looks good.

Admittedly, I still use my VCR (I bought so many great movies in that format!) but I can play DVDs, too. Yes, I subscribe to NetFlics … but only the “via mail” sort.  No streaming. Although I do sometimes watch movies on my computer, and we have WiFi in our house that was built in 1774. (Little did those who lived here then dream …!) When our TV dies, we’ll upgrade. Until then … why?

Cell phones, however, are a different story.  Oh, my husband and I used to have them. No shrinking violets, us. We each had one back about 6 or 7 years ago, when I was doing a lot of traveling to the Midwest to visit schools and up and down the East coast to do antique shows, mystery conferences, and visit family.

But we lived in Maine. At that time cellphone coverage was skimpy and unreliable. At best. I remember being in a local organization’s board meeting and having people compare coverages and then stand by the window with their phones or go out to the parking lot to try to reach someone who couldn’t attend. At our house, we were lucky to get one bar. Maybe two. Outside, on the hill in the yard.

Since we couldn’t use them most of the time, we didn’t. My husband was the slower adapter of the two of us.  He learned how to make calls with his phone (nothing so complicated as texts, which required hitting one letter several times to get it to appear on the screen.) But he never figured out how to access his messages. (He swore he couldn’t remember his password .) So I could call him (on the few occasions he remembered to take his phone) and if he didn’t answer I’d just have to try again.

Which brought us to another issue. Our phones (I’m intentionally not saying what company they were with but it wasn’t a tiny one) had very low volume ringers. If we were driving in the car and my phone was in my pocketbook — we couldn’t hear it. Not good.

Although, luckily, I did know how to access messages and return calls.

My best experience with cellphones was after on a flight home from Kansas City, where I’d been speaking to several schools. I was seated in the back of an almost-empty small plane, and the flight attendant and I talked for a while and, of course, I gave her a few bookmarks for my books. (Never miss an opportunity, right?) When I got home my cellphone was missing. Gone. Disappeared. Two days later I got an email from the flight attendant:  she’d found my phone on the plane, where it had probably fallen out of my pocketbook. She’d send it back to me.

Wonderful!  (And she did that … several weeks later.)

In the meantime, I bought one of those “burner” phones and enough minutes to last until my telephone was back with me.  It worked better than my regular phone.

After a couple of years of basically only using the cellphones when I was out-of-town, we decided monthly bills for a service we didn’t (in many cases couldn’t) use was ridiculous, so we cancelled our plan.  Should have done it earlier,

But in the past few years, everyone else in the world has gotten cellphones.  Some of my grandkids even have them. And the phones are “smart”. By being able to access emails and Facebook, they could eliminate my having to cart my heavy laptop everywhere when I travel.

My husband still talks in awe of the time he was in a New Jersey restaurant with his nephew, and they disagreed about the name of a band. The young man pulled out his phone and accessed the Internet to get the answer. It didn’t matter who’d been right. My husband was drooling .. and not because of the food. This was a toy worth having!

But we checked prices and plans and budgets … and remembered how often we’d used those phones we’d had in the past. We don’t actually talk on the phone often. We e-mail. We were at home most of the time, he in his studio and I in my study. We had desktop computers, and I had a laptop for travel. Why did we really need cellphones?

And so it has been.

But we knew someday. Someday! We’d break down.

Today was that day. (Sort of.)  In a couple of weeks we’re going to be very busy. I’ll be doing the New England Library Association conference in Portland October 21. Bob will be heading for Pennsylvania at the end of that week to drop some of his paintings off at a gallery there. Not long after he gets back I’ll be spending a day in Boston meeting with one of the curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, doing research for my new mystery series. And then we’re both heading to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We plan to visit the hundredth anniversary of the 1913 Armory Show in New York City, I’m doing at book signing in Flemington, New jersey, and then Bob’s art will be featured at a New Hope Gallery (The Blank Canvas) with an opening November 2. After that we plan to head for Philadelphia, where we hope to check in with one of my daughters and her perpetual fiancé and visit the Barnes Museum. Along the way we’ll need to check in with friends and relatives.

We faced it: we needed a cellphone.

So, this morning, we headed for Best Buy. We talked phones. I hesitated when I heard the current fee structure. Would we really use one of these newer-better-and-actually-get-reception phones?

So we compromised. We now are the proud possessors of one (yes, for now we’ll share) Samsung smart phone. Not the newest model. And we only bought 3 months service, which is renewable.

We figure three months will be a good test. If we really use the phone, maybe next spring we’ll sign on for longer than three months.

Maybe we’ll even become, like some of our relatives, so addicted we won’t be able to sleep without our phone. (Although I doubt it.)

In any case: now we have to learn to turn it on.  I’m looking forward to joining the rest of the world.  Just give me a few days ….

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2 Responses

  1. I am so with you, Lea! I have a burner phone. At $10 a month, it’s cheap emergency insurance–when I remember to turn it on. It totally flummoxed my 3-year-old grandson, however, when he learned I didn’t have any pictures on it. “You just need to open it, Mum-mum,” he insisted. “If I open it, it will be broken,” I told him. He looked puzzled. “Well, then I can tape it for you,” he offered.

    My status as world’s smartest Mum-mum is in danger. But I did teach him to knit.

  2. Love it, Nikki! I’ve had my phone for a couple of days and still haven’t totally mastered the art of swiping and then tapping. And my fingers are still hitting more than one key on the keyboard. But … I’m trying!

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