OPINION: Never too old to upgrade

By Mitch MacKay of East Jordan


I figured that being 75 and medically disabled I oughta have one of these thingies for emergencies, as opposed to walking down a roadside, with a walker, seeking a payphone or a friendly neighbor.

Calling a wrecker is ordeal enough since it involves a half-hour of negotiations to accomplish a verification that someone is on the way in estimated hours, winch and all knight-of-the-road equipment aboard.

Much desirable to sit in a warm vehicle to await than to mush on through the snow or even the tar and gravel of roadside breakdown.

“New” but not the “latest thing,” that is, the finger-painting touch-pad phones now current, the kind you see people playing with while talking to others in split-screen live action drama reenacted in situ adventure whilst ensconced in comfort and convenience wherever one might be, McDonald’s, perched on dashboard, tavern, office cubicle between dual computer screens, waiting rooms, laundromats, busy hubbub of daily grind machinations unto evening’s soirees at the local home-away-from-home bar cocktail hour.

For me, however, the old-fashioned cell phone was adequate, or so I thought.

Au contraire.

The new old version does most of the stuff that the touch-screen does, and it even allows dialing a call when once you figure out how that works.

First, the program choice of minutes and span of coverage is decided, the daily plan v. the minute plan basically.

The daily plan at $2 a day when once activated by sending or receiving a call was discovered to be activated by unwanted calls from, one supposes, spammers, scammers and worse, totally wasted cost and time allotted but no way to curtail these extraneous nuisances.

Thus, changing to the $.25 per minute plan was logical, which of course further indebted me to the intricacies of computerized navigating of the wonders inside this little black box which needs charging every few days, if not every few hours depending, I guess, on usage.

Earlier phones of the then latest design were relatively simple to use and to understand, even if equipped with a camera.

There were and presumably still are subsidized cell phone plans by government agencies explicitly for the aged, the infirm, the indigent who in eleemosynary status are granted free phones and to some extent free service for emergencies and intimated convenience.

I myself tried one of these since the profile wasn’t too distant from circumstances if one considers the wide expanse of insolvency in this country at present and incremental recent past – near-50% of Americans underwater in some sense now regardless hyperbolic propaganda.

Receipt thereof upon initial setup begot an intermittent voicemail message in, I kid you not, a perfect rendition of Flip Wilson’s Geraldine (anyone remember her?) saying in drag vocal “Whey you at?”

After some years of carrying this and that cell phone which incidentally were almost never used but for grocery shopping orders and helping a friend’s broken-down vehicle negotiations gave way to a stretch of time without since need seemed vacated in actual terms.

Why carry such devices if they’re never used?

But time like the river keeps on flowing and winds will howl and snows will converge and signs appear to remind that there do come those times when emergency phone service is a strikingly essential thing.

I even had an old carrying case with beltloop from the dispensed-with collection of old phones, video recorders (Flip Video), handy little devices come and gone, leaving me with the latest new-old phone to carry and use.


There is, to put it in common parlance, no ON-OFF button.

Or, there certainly is but it does a whole lot more than that, more than the expertise gained through the first Cobra answer machine in 1979 which required a thorough study of the manual to get things activated.

Thence on to cassette recorder-copier tape machines which proved easier than the old reel-to-reel manual splicing technique, subsequent to learning the ropes of the turntables of the 1950s which allowed changing from 45rpm to 78rpm to 331/3 rpm, wonder of wonders.

And this after extensive study of TV tubes and antennas that need constant replacement and adjustment.

It’s easy to see the consternation quotient presented to the electronically-challenged among us.

Home copy-print-scan printers figure in there somewhere, a handy-dandy inclusion to home office tactical, um, professionalism.

You know, all that stuff that 7-year-olds can do.  All grandparents nod acknowledgement.

“It is what it is” and “No U-Haul behind the hearse” sums it up neatly for the disenfranchised of society whether electronically, figuratively, superannuated, insolvent, inconvenienced, stalwart albeit stymied survivors of modernity.

Utilitarianism peeks through these fogs of ever-changing technology seeking a parting of the clouds via ratiocination, or satellite.

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