Sunday, April 24, 2016

Farewell, 2G Cell Phone Dude.

“...You’ve been identified as the user of an older 2G cell phone.…”

Well, excuuuuuse me.

I’d signed onto my cellular carrier’s website to buy a data package; no big deal, I’d done it countless times since buying my older 2G cell phone many years ago.  But this is the first time I’ve been busted AND IDENTIFIED for the heinous offense of using an older 2G cell phone.

Is there a special place in obsolete electronics hell for guys like me?

The old - Samsung A-177

For those much more knowledgeable than I on the warp-speed subject of cell phones—and that’s just about everyone on the planet—I’ve used a Samsung A-177 basic messaging/cell phone for about ten years.  The old boy has served me well and honorably, never breaking, malfunctioning, or failing me at a critical moment.  This little workhorse wasn’t fancy or loaded with gadgets and doodads; nor was it high-tech, fast, or glitzy.  It made and received calls and texts (although I don’t text), took low-res but passable pictures, and performed some rudimentary web browsing.  My carrier’s prepaid usage plan worked for me as well; it fit my needs and budget without undue strain.  All in all, it was a satisfying working relationship. 

So, something naturally had to come along and screw it up; something called 4G LTE.

I kept asking myself what I did to deserve this expensive disruption to my life.  Was I being punished because I didn’t buy enough cookies from that perky, bright-eyed Girl Scout in the supermarket last weekend?  I was touched by the disappointment on her face when I bought only two boxes of Thin Mints from her.  For the record, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Thin Mints.  But two boxes were all I could afford at that moment … honest.

Was it the telemarketer who woke me from a sound sleep to inform me that my computer was infected with a disk-eating virus?  He kindly offered to rescue me and my computer from a fate worse than the blue screen of death if I would give him my credit card number, allow him to remotely access my trusty old machine, and deliver it from the scourge that was threatening its electronic innards.

Such a nice fellow, huh?

I suggested he perform a perverted act with a small barnyard animal and hung up on him.

Is that what doomed my older 2G cell phone?

Or was it because I’m one of those folks who won’t take an item from the front of the supermarket shelf?  As I’ve gotten older (and my digestive tract more persnickety), I’ve come to be acutely aware of food expiration dates.  Knowledgeable shoppers know the supermarket practice of placing the older merchandise at the front of the shelf in hopes of selling it to unaware shoppers.  The newer stock is usually lined up behind, and that’s where I go without hesitation.  I’ll unabashedly grope my way to the rear of the shelf and select my purchases from there.

If there’s ever an angry store manager, a shoppercam, a mousetrap, or a hungry animal hiding back there, I’m in big trouble. 


Is that what doomed my older 2G cell phone?

Whatever the cause, I resigned myself to the inevitability of my trusty older 2G cell phone’s passing.  My reluctant rite of passage into the Smartphone era had begun: fate had decreed that I would adopt an Android because there was no way I could afford anything whose name started with an “i.”

The next step in my odyssey brought me to the phone store where I was instantly overwhelmed by phones, accessories, plans, contracts, data packages, and a salesman named Eddie.  Lining the walls were phones of every description, color, brand, size, snob appeal, price, and capability.  There were phones capable of brewing coffee, brushing your teeth (necessary after drinking all that coffee), walking your dog, telling you your name and your location (like you need a phone for that?), lying to your spouse, filing your taxes, washing your car, soothing you to sleep with a lullaby (with commercials discreetly inserted), curing a hangover, teaching you a foreign language, measuring your body odor (smell-o-phone?), detecting any attempts by government agencies (foreign or domestic) to read your thoughts (saves money on those aluminum foil hats), or beaming you up to the nearest transporter-equipped spaceship (transport to Federation starships is free; extra charges apply for Ferengi, Klingon, or Romulan vessels).    

Although I was intrigued by the prospect of discarding my foil hats (especially my football helmet model … it made my head feel like a baked potato), I thoroughly spoiled Eddie’s day by selecting the Motorola Moto E, a euphemistically-termed “budget phone” which shouldn’t be obsolete for at least 2 days.  But he avenged my frugality by selling me a bagful of accessories I truly didn’t need.  (does a Smartphone really need its very own little rubber ducky to keep it clean?)

We’ll see.  Thanks, Eddie.  You’re definitely NOT on my Christmas card list … not now … not ever.

The new - Motorola Moto E

When I got home with my new phone, I quickly discovered that the Moto E—with its 4G LTE thingy--was a completely different animal from my old phone. 

Holy learning curve, Batman!

That point was driven home when I started mindlessly experimenting with the damned thing and burned through $50 worth of data in about 10 minutes.

Warning, older 2G cell phone user, warning!  You need a different data plan now!

Evolution is expensive, isn’t it?  The dinosaurs learned that lesson too late; and they weren’t even forced to deal with cell phones.

I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever make the transition from an older 2G cell phone user to a happening, with-it, and unbearably cool Smartphone dude.  I started plowing through the User’s Guide—all 68 pages of it.


There were actions described in there that would’ve gotten me slapped if I’d tried them with a woman on a first, second, third, fourth, or even fifth date!: flicking, touching, holding, touching AND holding, tapping, double-tapping, twisting (ouch!), dragging (presumably intended for cavemen), pinching, rotating (I guess anything goes these days), squeezing, swiping, muting (for noisy partners?), vibrating (in which pocket do YOU carry YOUR phone?), and streaming (GROSS!).

What was this?  A Smartphone User’s Guide or a sex manual?  This phone and I had just met, and the book was already telling me to do all these things to it?  For cryin’ out loud: we barely knew each other.

Finally, the User’s Guide directed me to the Play Store.  The Play Store?  Uh-oh.  Danger, Will Robinson, danger!  What the hell was The Play Store?  At first glance, it sounded like Victoria’s Secret without the frills, lace, and see-through fabrics.  You know, to-hell-with-the-preliminaries-and-let’s-get-on-with-the-main-event.  I pictured it as one of those windowless little outskirts-of-town shops in which all the customers wore sunglasses (even at night) and were named John. 

An uncle of one of my grade-school classmates owned a store like that.  One day, Jimmy brought something from his uncle’s shop to school for show-and-tell.  As I recall, the boys immediately recognized it and thought it was the greatest thing since spitballs.  The girls—in unison--rolled their eyes, stalked out of the room, and made a run for the Principal’s office.  The nun simply sat there and blushed profusely.

Oh, the humanity!

Jimmy was immediately transferred to a nearby public school.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he were now a multimillionaire Internet marketing entrepreneur.  He had a knack for capturing attention.

Do you hide merchandise from The Play Store waaaaaaay back in your underwear drawer?  You know, along with that stash of brown-paper-wrapped items discreetly tucked beneath your vintage copies of Playboy?  Yeah, THAT stuff.  You may not have a clue what those gadgets are or how to use them ... but experimenting with them and considering the possibilities is a fun diversion on a rainy day.

Armed with my new data plan, my vibrating manual, er, User’s Guide, and diligently practicing to develop digital dexterity in my worm-fingers, I have resignedly taken the first tentative baby-steps toward becoming a happening, with-it, and unbearably cool Smartphone dude.  I’m slowly getting comfortable with my very own Android Smartphone—even respectfully flicking it--and should be an expert in a couple of hours.


The American poet Ogden Nash once wrote: “Ring out the old, ring in the new, but don’t get caught in between.”  It is with a sense of nostalgia that—during my spells of tapping, pinching, squeezing, et al—I remember my ol’ buddy and the many hours we shared together.  Through low and excellent signal strength, we communicated at 2G speeds without so much as a swipe or a double-tap.  But time and tide now dictate that I must mute the old and rotate the new, for technology waits for neither man nor older 2G cell phone.

So shall it be.