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Sweating the little decisions

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What's going on now is that my cell phone contract with AT&T is up, the two years are over, and there are all these new phones out there, called "Droids," and they're calling me.

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They're not calling me as in me having to answer the phone and talk to them. Of course not. They're calling me in a more metaphorical, non-literal, sense. As in: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence kind of "calling" me.

Since my two-year contract with them is up, that means that my iPhone is now also two-plus years old. One of the problems here with smart phones, to which category both the Apple iPhone and all the other new Droid-based phones belong, is that they're smarter than I am. Hence, at two-plus years and counting, new things keep popping up on this old phone of mine, things I didn't know were even in there.

At the rate new things are popping up, chances are I should keep this phone around for another 47 years, at which point it will cease surprising me with its apparently endless storehouse of tricks and foibles. In other words, abandoning it now for one of the competition's phones feels like surrender. Like: "I give up."

"So exactly why should I buy this Droid?" I asked the young lady at the competition's phone store. I held it in one of my hands. Analyzed it in depth compared to all I've learned from the smart phone in my other hand. Thought of all the things that would have to be learned should this new phone go home with me.

And, truth be told, I felt a sense of loss equal to a parent abandoning a baby on the steps of the local church. Where do old phones go? Where should they go? (Right there came a vision of the boots my feet wore back from Vietnam, and the confusion about the right thing to do with them, all these years later. They're still around. Haven't figured them out, yet, but for sure, there's a right thing to do, and a wrong thing to do, difficult as it is to determine.)

I looked at the new phone, wondered if the young lady would call the nuthouse if I said to her: "Look. I need to figure out what to do with my boots, then I'll let you know about this phone."

Just the other day, I was thinking that the big decisions had come easily. Jobs were changed easily, and for the better. Moved several hundred miles up to here, no problem. Started teaching, sold a hardware business, etc., etc. Down beneath the surface of all these big decisions, there was very little doubt, very few misgivings. What was right seemed very right.

Now, day after day, my Big Decision Making prowess has become completely embarrassed by my littledecisionmaking. "Do you want paper or plastic?" The little decisions are hard. Paper or plastic. That should be simple. Paper? Plastic? Paper? Plastic?

Now this phone thing.

She's looking at me, this young lady in the phone store. What does she see? Another old fogey smart-phone wannabe too proud to admit he's licked? I don't want to be that guy. I want to be that cool old fogey smart-phone technocrat who's keeping up with the times, even immersed as I am in the fog of decisions that seem to elude me about boots and bags.

In answer to my question about why I should or might want a Droid, she took it out of my hand, and in a blur of button-pushing and screen blinking and finger sweeping and side looks at me to make sure I was still conscious, she demonstrated, in about 10 seconds, the front and rear cameras, should I need to Skype with someone -- which I might do while driving down the highway, sure enough -- the voice recognition software that means you no longer have to make your big fingers fit those tiny dwarf buttons; the adaptability of the desktop to signal you about everything from your shoe size to today's Dow Jones stock market plunge; caller identification with a variety of sounds and pictures so you'll know who is calling you without answering; the blazing speed with which Google downloads and searches out a remedy for that big pimple which just appeared on your nose; and who has just friended you on a Facebook site that you wished had never been invented and to which you wish you had never belonged.

"I'll think about it," I told her, and left.

I think paper.

But I'm not sure.

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