Under no circumstances will I touch the buttons on my cellphone ever again—well, except for using the app to adjust the volume on my hearing aids, a necessity at my age. Any digital missteps could result in me spending time I’ll never get back talking to someone in Outer Mongolia who barely speaks English. All those off-shore service reps know me now, have dealt with me in the past, and dread talking to me. Only the newest one who picks the short straw gets to help me with my technical problems, which they absolutely never manage to do.
My latest run-in started innocently enough when I pulled up to the grocery curbside pickup spot at SuperStore. Ironically, this technophobe loves online grocery shopping. I pushed the phone button on my dashboard to dial the number to let them know I’m here and there was no dialtone. Not Registered was the message it flashed back at me. What the f#$%! Muttering further obscenities, I dig in the back seat for my umbrella and tramp into the store to retrieve my groceries. Fortunately, SuperStore’s technology works even though mine doesn’t. They have my order and bring it out to the car.
The ensuing investigation into the cause of my cellphone problem and the search for a solution means that neither I nor my husband could use our phones for a couple of days until I sort it out. My first call to Timbucktu puts me in touch with a lady whose voice was so soft and heavily accented that I had to constantly ask her to keep repeating herself. After nearly an hour of this frustrating exchange, she’d had enough and cut me off.
Two days later I tried again and got another lady who spent nearly two hours having me switch the SIM cards back and forth between my husband’s phone and my own and keep rebooting. All that accomplished was my husband received my calls on his phone and I wasn’t getting anything.
In the midst of trying to balance the landline handset on my shoulder (I will never, ever, ever give up my landline) while performing what seemed like micro-surgery on SIM card trays, one of the itsy-bitsy cards dropped onto my lap, then disappeared into the dark abyss under my desk. Another call terminated.
By now, I’m pretty much on the verge of furious tears and my husband is visibly afraid of me. He ducks when I walk by and tries to hide when I come looking for the flashlight to crawl under my desk. Even the dog ran for cover. Amidst all the dust bunnies, bent paper clips, and leftover bits of old dog kibble I finally find the microscopic lost SIM card. My old hips and knees are absolutely not designed for this kind of workout.
With my husband’s phone on my right knee and my own on my left knee (because I’m left-handed, it’s easier to remember whose is which), I begin the complicated transplant operation, trying to keep all the components right-side up. After a couple of missteps, I achieve ignition. That only leaves the complicated (for me) job of reinstating his contact list, his voice mail, his ringtone, his apps, and the reciprocal tasks on my own phone. Our marriage hangs in the balance because he never wanted to go on my phone plan in the first place. I was trying to save us money but his subsequent problems almost cost me my marriage.
The Solution . . . Sort Of!
Going forward, I suggest you do not try to reach me on my cellphone. Do not text me—I’m still learning how to find and open text messages. Do not leave a voice mail—I have never learned how to set up and retrieve voice messages. And, under no circumstances should you expect to find me on SnapChat, What’s App or any other social network that does not meet in my livingroom or at Tim Horton’s.
We are also on the verge of switching in-house telecom providers. We have so many service calls from technicians for ‘problems up the street’ that I feel like we should charge room and board they’re camped here so often. Apart from the inconvenience for a very expensive service, we are regularly without television or internet which is a catastrophe for retired boomers. But, that’s another issue for another day when I’ve calmed down a bit.
In matters of life and death, should I need to call 911, I will always have my trusty landline. That is technology I understand and can rely on. I have given up trying to unlock the fifty-six steps of verification and robot-busting captchas that keep me locked out of my own bank accounts and CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) information.
What do you do when your tech is unreliable, disappointing, and sometimes ghosts you? Do you break up? Should I find another more compatible partner? Divorce is one solution. Counselling is another bandaid but it’s hard to find someone who will work with a techno-cripple who requires home visits. Temporary separations have worked in the past—until I can no longer function without Amazon or Facebook. Then, I’m back in the stress lane trying to navigate my way.
Meanwhile, my bill-paying has been successfully set up online with my non-phone-answering bank. Auto-pay means my utilities won’t be cut off. When needed, I send hubby to the bank machine which is in the same plaza as our favourite wine store to fetch me some real money in case I need it for a pay phone. What?? No more pay phones? My nerves can’t take it any more. Do you have the number for my landline? Here . . . I’ll pour you a glass of wine. Let’s talk. Or, can you meet me at Tim Horton’s?