Luddite at heart

April 03, 2013 09:11 am

I have a confession to make this week. I am a Luddite. 

And what is a Luddite, you may ask? It’s not the 13th tribe of Israel as it may sound. No, it’s someone who reviles the advancement of technology. I learned the word at a funeral of a family friend. He was so against technology he had the confusing phone system where one phone rang and rang until and if he answered, and another number that went to voicemail.

My first cell phone was this handy little thing my brother gave me as part of his family plan. I had to call him from my landline to find out how to turn it on. Eventually, that piece of machinery became a permanent fixture in my back pocket. It fell apart long before the contract was up. When I could finally get a free upgrade, I took it into the store in two pieces. 

I got it on the way out the door on my way to Wallowa County. When I told the clerk where I was moving, she said that I would be receiving a letter soon from my cell phone company saying that they would no longer support the phone’s service and I’d be out hundreds of dollars and have to find a new provider.

It never happened. When that phone fell apart in my hands I drove directly to the store and got a new one. For the second time I had lost all of my contacts. That phone’s keys stopped working about a week before I qualified for yet another free upgrade.

In the meantime, a friend had sent me her old phone when she got her “smart phone.” The thing was a dream! It had a keyboard and made texting so easy I upped my text options to unlimited. When I did so, my carrier forced me into buying a data plan I did not need nor never used. I was baffled. My carrier refused to see that anyone could possibly use a phone to, well, call people.

And so for the last six months that phone has dogged me by errantly shutting off. I missed an important call last week, threw the thing across the room, and drove to the phone store for yet another phone.

I asked for the same deal I’ve always had, the $50 phone that comes with a $50 rebate. They don’t have those anymore. I am confused what a free upgrade means…

I gritted my teeth and looked at the “smart phones” that cost the same as the standard ones. I was encouraged to get the model that has fewer incidences of viruses. Then the saleswoman said, “Are you hard on phones?” 

I said, “Yes…” 

She said, “You aren’t going to like this, but I recommend you get insurance.”

I left the store utterly defeated. I spent a lot of money on something I didn’t want, but had no better options. Worse? I had no idea how to even answer it.

As I drove home I thought about my grandmother who had been a switchboard operator for her county. Wonder if that system lasted more than 18 months before it fell apart? Or that Napoleon Dynamite-style beige phone with the 30-foot cord we had when I was a kid? I spent most of my teenage years on that discussing tomorrow’s outfit and arranging movie and ballgame plans.

Easter Sunday I went grocery shopping and decided I wanted to make a Greek salad. I started to text a friend what kind of lettuce I needed when I realized, “Wait a minute! I have Internet access!”

Google told me I needed romaine.

I’m kicking and screaming into the 21st century, I am.