Image Source: http://www.mashable.com

While most people get thoroughly excited about new technology and buying the latest and greatest, I’ve had the worst bout of anxiety the last week, including being literally sick to my stomach and then nearly having a nervous breakdown in a store, all due to my 4-year-old non-smartphone conking out.

Well, how could that be?  Everybody just loves new gadgets! After all, who doesn’t want to keep up with the freaking Joneses?  I mean, who would be proud to own an 8-track player?  One of my best memories is listening to Earth, Wind & Fire and Paul McCartney and Wings on 8-tracks in my father’s British racing green Jaguar XK-E roadster in the ’70s, dammit! Let me pose this question: if old things are so bad, why is my father’s former car worth a small fortune now?  Surely, newer cars are better than old Jags with notorious electrical problems.

Yes, I know.  Years and years before I got sick from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and then developed keratoconus and lost the ability to socialize with others and my career which keeps anyone tech-savvy, I had a love affair with certain aspects of technology, especially my Nextel pager and I still remember the number.  On the rare occasion that I went to a doctor appointment for something treatable like strep throat, my pager would inevitably go off as I’d forget to switch it to vibrate and I’d get an odd look from the doctor, as only doctors and drug dealers had pagers back then. Was I involved in either profession?  Well, that’s classified information at this point.

Nonetheless, I got a cell phone in the late ’90s due to a job as an English-Spanish medical interpreter where it was required, but wouldn’t part with my pager until 2001, the same year I dropped my land line, and what a sad day that was as you rented pagers and had to give them back.  My big career was in program administration in the non-profit sector and despite my education, it didn’t pay a lot so I had a second-hand TV and VCR as I was never one to sit around, but I had a great Sony stereo and had worked an entire summer when I was 16 to put the best sound system in my then car, complete with a first generation Alpine CD player that skipped every 10 seconds and huge, MTX sub-woofers with a ginormous amp, so there. But that was then and this is now.

Now, I can hardly see the so-called basic phone sans data plan that I have, but I got it before my vision started to go in 2011 so I remember how to do things and it has big buttons on the front so I can actually call exciting people like rude receptionists at doctors’ offices and my frustrating insurance companies.  So, I could do all that until my phone’s reception got very bad and then started dropping every call 2 weeks ago and I knew I was in trouble.  Surely I could get a similar model that was sturdy enough for someone who misses the counter a lot, though.

Oh, how wrong I was as I perused the options at Best Buy one night, even though I needed to buy my phone from my carrier’s store which was closed.  I even looked at the 2 phones left with keyboards as I can feel the buttons, but they were so flimsy I knew they’d break within 5 minutes, so I was up a creek and would have to get a stupid smartphone and then the massive anxiety kicked in.

I’ve held and looked at one smartphone in my entire life—an iPhone—and I had no idea how to do anything with it and even worse, I couldn’t see the font on the screen and I was in a waiting room, which meant it was on the rare occasion that I had my iffy sclerals in.  My hairstylist has a tablet and I pay her on that and can see it with my sclerals in, but again, I normally can’t wear them and how do you make a call on a tablet even if I could afford it?  Can you hold that huge thing up to your ear if it even makes calls?  I have joints that subluxate, or partially dislocate, and ache from holding my little phone to my ear, so what was I supposed to do in order to have a screen I could see?

I headed to my carrier’s gadget store the other night and had over an hour wait in a room with jewelry-store lighting that made it very hard for me to even browse while squinting from the brightness that further distorted my vision, but I tried. Trying involved attempting to turn on phones that didn’t seem to have buttons, accidentally making music play really loudly without a clue as to how to turn it off, seeing if I could text the following on a screen: this is really hard, which looked something like: rjod ua twskku jsef.  I had no idea my skeletal fingers were so large and wondered how a linebacker-type texted on these things as I can’t totally blame that on my vision.

Oh, I should mention that I swallowed my pride prior to dealing with the 20-year-old sales guys and stated that I had severe anxiety over this ordeal, was visually impaired, am aware that I drove to the store, and I had no idea how to use a smartphone and was really pissed off that my old LG couldn’t just be repaired.  Actually, I said all that to the security guard who then directed me to the aforementioned sales guys so I could repeat it all.  Remember when you could repair things? Yeah, that concept is stored in a vault with the dinosaurs now and other things we know once existed but disappeared, unless you’re that Duck Dynasty redneck who thinks dinosaurs are the work of the devil—I digress.

So, Junior quickly led me to a huge Samsung that was the size of my face and said that Samsung has done a lot for those who have vision problems and are hearing impaired or something along those lines, but didn’t get into details.  I’m not Helen Keller and I can hear just fine!  I also had a Samsung phone that cracked into some odd, spider web thing, so aside from not being a Samsung fan, I was also able to see on the big sign that the phone, with a 2-year contract, was $399.00—the most expensive in the store in the heart of my ghetto neighborhood.  Wow, that’s like 4 months of groceries I think and I’m well aware of the fact that most people in these parts don’t have my good credit or legal status to even get a contract phone.  Was this some kind of presumptive thinking about a fellow minority simply because I came in speaking English, was traveling solo, and quite frankly was fully clothed: boots, skinny jeans, jacket, big scarf—unlike the half-naked women who roam this area?

It just makes me curious as to why this kid would assume that a visually impaired woman in the ‘hood had good enough credit to get that phone (yes) and had that kind of money to blow on a phone (no) since he didn’t show that Samsung to anyone else in the packed store, many of whom were talking on old phones like my current one and even flip phones from the 2000s.  Well, maybe his biased thinking is why he works there.

After that and my growing irritation after being stereotyped, I was left to my own devices—pun intended—since they clearly knew nothing about adapting phones for the visually impaired, although close to hour 2, with my eyes and body killing me, I was told I could hold the phones sideways to make the keyboard bigger and text that way.  Wow, that info could have really spared me the partial breakdown when I screamed at everyone around me that they should thank their lucky stars that they could see.

So, in the end, the cheaper iPhones had too many app things creating a ghosted mess and were too small for me to see well even with my lenses in.  I think I missed the whole Android section, unless that’s the same as a Droid.  So, I was back to the center-of-attention smartphones where the huge Samsung was that was royally irritating me, but I noticed an LG, my lucky brand, which was under $100 as it’s been out for a mere 5 months per a web search I did later.  So, that’s what I got, but I didn’t get it because the whole city is out of them so it has to be mailed to me and then I have to go back to that ridiculous store and wait 2 hours and be the Anglo who’s not an Anglo due to how I dress via my thrift store wardrobe so that they can do something to set it up and sell me pricey things so I won’t crack the screen like I did with my forehead a month ago.  Oy vey.

As I’m just on hold for the time being, I read some online reviews and figured out how to turn the LG smartphone on and off, so I’ll know how to do that, but how will I make and answer calls, actually send texts, turn the sound off when I sleep and go to my doctor appointments, figure out where the hell the alarm is so I can wake up, and the other very basic things I need a phone for?  My brother told me in an e-mail that I can watch videos on YouTube to figure things out more, so I guess that’s my plan of action for now.  I think I’ve sent him 20, anxiety-laden e-mails about this debacle while he talks about more confusing things like downloading music, but at least he’s trying to help.

If anyone needs to watch videos or listen to music (is that streaming?) or anything else I won’t be doing on my smartphone as I have no clue how to nor do I care, just page me and I’ll hook you up.

“Had a beeper goin’ off like a high school bell.”
Ice-T’s “6 in the Mornin'” (1986)

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17 thoughts on “I JUST WANT MY PAGER BACK

  1. ShimonZ says:

    a thoroughly entertaining post… maybe there’s an app that lets you watch clouds drift slowly by, and promotes a great calm about life in general…

    • Hahahahaha, Shimon! Yes, once I figure out the ridiculous world of apps, I will definitely be grabbing the one that lets me watch clouds drift slowly by to calm my nerves. That sound lovely! The phone is set to arrive Wednesday and I can get back to the store for nervous breakdown #99 Thursday night. My greatest fear, aside from everything mentioned in my post, is that I’ll get so frustrated that I’ll throw it across the room, a great habit I learned from my father, and then I’ll be back to square one. :/

      Thanks for your funny comment; I need all the laughs I can get during these trying times…

  2. dyspatient says:

    I wish I were with you. I would totally get you set up. So, uh, dare I ask what LG model you ended up getting?

    • Omg, I wish you were, too! You’d set the fonts and brightness and everything. After watching those YouTube videos, I’m more confused than ever because I have no idea what they’re talking about at all. Anyway, without any prior research, I got the G2. It’s definitely not a smartphone for beginners, but the iPhone that was the same price had a smaller screen that was so covered with crap (apps) that I got too nervous with my vision and so stuck with the G2 by the front of the store. I seriously don’t remember a thing about it aside from some buttons that aren’t buttons towards the bottom and that it’s white. The only bad thing I’ve read about it is that the voice command thing sucks. Oh, great. Well, I have some version of that on my current phone and have no clue how to use it, so never did. I should have it turned on at the store Thursday night (it hasn’t arrived yet), so will keep you posted from whichever loony bin I’ll be residing in as a result. 🙂

      • dyspatient says:

        So that’s Android, version 4.4 if the online stuff is accurate. I did like Android’s keyboard option, there’s a gesture typing option that they have that’s pretty cool. You just drag your finger around the screen, swiping keys as you go, and it types. This is nice ’cause it means you only have to visually orient to the keyboard once…well, once-ish. There’s a setting called “talk back”that you can turn on that gives you audio or tactile (vibrate) feedback for things like keypresses and typing, I definitely recommend trying it out. Here’s info on it and how to turn it on: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.marvin.talkback.

      • Ugh, I missed this comment–sorry (see other re: vision tonight). OK, I’m totally lost about dragging my finger across the screen to type! But, the sales guy showed me a thing I push and I can speak my text. I just can’t figure out how to make complete sentences so it’s good for a one-liner right now. TalkBack is in my settings in accessibility, but as mentioned in the other comment, I’m worried about using it in public and annoying people. I did turn up the vibrate on the keys (are they keys?) to go back, home, and some thing with lines that pulls up different options. I think I need to play with the hearing impaired part now because I feel like I need more sound when pressing on things and I still can’t figure out how to get texts to make a sound; it’s like a little vibrate thing which is useless since my phone is usually on the counter and I don’t check it. Homework for tomorrow. Maybe I’ll turn on TalkBack and hope I can turn it off just to test it out. I think it would be easier when my sclerals aren’t in which is the majority of the time, so thanks for the link! 🙂

      • dyspatient says:

        🙂 Learning new tech is difficult, learning new tech when you have a sensory impairment is maddening. I was just discussing this with another student who was considering an upgrade to Windows 8. My advice was wait for the manufacturers of your assistive technology to catch up with it or you’ll find most of your helpful utilities and programs broken. I cringe when students come in with brand new operating systems or devices. Literally feel like crying. Someone has to stay a step ahead of them to help them learn how to use them – this is how I ended up being “techy”.

      • Yes! I had an option to upgrade to Windows 8 for not much money when it came out with my laptop here and passed. It’s also why I still use Office ’03! I know it and am freaked out about figuring out how new versions work. I really feel for your students who are worse off than I am and the weird thing with KC, due to the corneal aspect, is that I can see SO much better on screens. I notice that this screen (laptop) is now deplorable compared to my new phone, but free data on here and much easier to type and I lose less of the page! Well, my laptop really is great and now I’m beyond broke so no more gadgets (and Windows 8) for me.

        It must be the pixels or something I don’t get. I can’t see well on tube TVs at all (I have a doc who has one in the waiting room–nice), but plasma-types are so-so and then almost normal with my sclerals in, so I can watch TV while getting ready to go to said doctor. Haha! I have an old tube from ’92 in my storage pod so that’s just swell if I ever get out of here. :/

        Well, I can see how you became so “techy” but it’s a good thing and what would your students do without you? What would I do? 🙂 Oh, my phone just made some chime-y noise and I have no idea what it was. It should do that when I have a text. Oh no, it’s my Outlook that I synced (new word) and wish I hadn’t as I only wanted access to my e-mail on an as needed basis and didn’t know what syncing really was. Great. More stuff to figure out.

        I so hope my CXL holds so I can still see at least this much. My vision was a lot worse, more so in shorter distances I think, pre-op and the phone would’ve been a nightmare and I had to listen to the TV those last months due to the ghosted mess. The best (worst) was I was recuperating post-op at my mother’s home in CA at 20/400 and was trying to watch what I call the telescreen that my step-father has built-in to the wall. I couldn’t see a thing and she doesn’t know how to change the channel, so we watched the Kardashians (now I’ll get searches for Kim K + keratoconus). Anyway, as I never have much to do and used to have cable, I know who they are and was trying to give her the back story on their moronic ways, but they all have the same voice so I was trying to get descriptions (tall, big booty, short) to explain who was who. That was the blind leading the blind and I also reset her 2 thermostats before we left with the 20/400 vision and have no clue how the hell I did it. My counselor told me last week that if I can figure things out like that, I’d do okay with the new phone and he was right. 🙂 Also glad my comments are as long as your posts. Always a work in progress…

      • dyspatient says:

        The Kardashians thing just made me snort my coffee. “This ring of hell was brought to you by the letter ‘k’, for keratoconus and kardashian!”

      • Lol! 🙂 Freaking Ks… I should have named my blog “Keeping up with Keratoconus” so I could be famous for doing nothing.

      • dyspatient says:

        Oh, and this is a decent article on accessibility features in Android in general: http://developer.android.com/design/patterns/accessibility.html

      • Thanks D! I ended up going to a different store tonight (better one) as the phone came before my dental appt and got a bit of help this time and tried things out in the store in case I really screwed up. So, the sales guy showed me the accessibility section and I have the LARGE font and can go up 1 more but am already losing the page. I didn’t try TalkBack (in your link) because I’m still confused on all the ways to access “sounds” and am worried I’ll need to text in a waiting room and the phone will talk as I go! Whoops!

        I had my sclerals in for so long due to the appt and then the store and hours of trying to figure everything out and my vision is really bad from having them in so long and I could see the phone still when I took them out around midnight! Yay! That was my biggest fear and I’m so glad I got that bigger screen that the LG has. So, I’m feeling better, but it’s like there are 10 ways to do 1 thing and I need to figure out which apps I can ditch to clean the phone up more, but at least my home screen (what is that called?) is rather clean and just has what I need so no crazy ghosting. I still have no idea why I can see better on screens vs. in the real world. Oh, I also figured out how to download 2 apps I needed, so I’m rather proud of myself.

        The odd thing is the phone only has 1 or 2 bars here and the WiFi drops me (I use an ethernet with my laptop due to it being public), but was fine at the store 5 minutes from here. So, now I’m freaking out that something is wrong with the reception here all of a sudden (is that possible?) and my old phone really was fine all along, or until a few weeks ago. It had no bars and would just drop every call. Omg, I had to spend $70 on a case and screen protector (yikes) as the G2 doesn’t have many options even on Amazon and what if this phone just drops calls right and left like the other? Holy merde. Well, I won’t be doing much else on it as predicted. I got my Outlook app up and running and what a mess vs. Outlook on my laptop. Ditto for Chrome, Google, etc. Sigh…

        I’ll go through all the tips you sent with a fine tooth comb when my vision is better tomorrow (today) and have the whole day to figure it out more. Thanks so much again! ❤

      • dyspatient says:

        Well, I know what you mean about a noisy phone. The students with low vision that I work with have chatty phones. I’m used to it, but it’s one more thing to potentially have to explain to people or deal with judgement about. So, headphones. One ear bud.

        Our house is in a dead spot cell-wise. We got a network extender. It helped, alot. The cell company sells them, they wanted about $250 for it but my husband talked them down to about $175. He says that only AT&T and Verizon sell network extenders, AT&T’s is more expensive. The other carriers do network repeaters.

      • OK, so I tried TalkBack and I couldn’t hear it well, but it’s really for people who have super low vision or are totally blind as I can see my bigger font/apps. If I couldn’t blow those up so much + the bigger screen, I would need it, so I’m so glad that option is available and it really walks you through it! I did a couple more things like “speak passwords” as I ran into that earlier and my keyboard wasn’t there, so easier and texting on the screen is still not great. I also can’t believe they tried to tell me only Samsung (the $399 phone) had things for the Helen Kellers of the world. Ugh, so wish I’d gone to that other store instead as the last guy to help sat down with me and actually showed me how to do this and that, where the 1st guy just wanted to do it for me, but I need to learn how.

        Per the reception, I’ve lived here (Bates Motel) for almost 4 years except when I moved for a year to the rental down the street where the sewer pipe above me broke and I got to live in a cesspool for days before coming back here. I always had great coverage, so I’m really confused! I have no idea what changed. I made 3 calls today with 2 bars and they were OK, but the WiFi drops me. The phone also says 3G when it’s a 4G so I’m thinking that’s a signal issue, but not the phone? I didn’t have any data before so no clue. I won’t be using much data so no biggie I think (hope). Well, I really don’t want to buy one of those network extenders–holy pricey. :/

      • dyspatient says:

        Yeah, the network extender thing is not ideal, but when you don’t have a landline and you’ve committed to cell only, it’s tough to get by with constant deadspots and dropped calls.

        I’m glad you found the guy at the second store. I hate when people “do for” instead of showing how when they’re helping with tech. I have a hands off policy unless we hit something very unexpected and very strange.

      • Agreed! The first guy was very Rico Suave (that was his look and demeanor) and was like, “I got this” with his sly smile. Haha! I stopped him when he made the font bigger and told him that I needed to KNOW how to do that myself. I like to know how things work in general, but it’s not like I can easily drive to that store whenever I have a question and I don’t see how I can call the company to figure things out while on the phone. So, I don’t need Rico in this instance. Yay for the 2nd guy who wasn’t 20!

        I stopped playing with the phone for now as I hit a wall and will have to figure out the fine-tuning later, but at least I can do the basics and I got rid of my Outlook since I couldn’t figure out how to unsync it and don’t think I’ll ever use it as it’s just too hard to figure out/see that much stuff as I lose too much of the page. I thought it would be good as I think you can have coupons scanned at the store from your phone (?), but have no clue about that. I do have to figure out how to get rid of loads of apps on there as I had to update a bunch yesterday and it took an hr and I know that’s using data and I don’t want an NFL app. Ugh! I need to refer to your link but my vision is still crappy and don’t want to read on here. And, I’ll have no choice but to get that extender if something odd happened with this bldg. and I do end up having issues with calls, but hope the 1-2 bars will be okay. We shall see…

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