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)