Before 2020, if anyone had asked me what I might miss most if I were stranded on a deserted island, I would not have thought my answer would be technology. Tea, chocolate, a good book, Duct tape even would have been a more likely response. Certainly, not something I have in the past found challenging at best.
Since we have all been so confined this past year, I realize that Zoom, has become many people’s window to the world, including mine. I have discovered that my phone and iPad have been a great source of intellectual stimulation and social contact. I have taken art classes from Texas and Florida, joined a Photography club from Massachusetts, attended book club meetings and church services and regularly meet with family on the East Coast for three hours every Sunday. Even though my children live close by, in the spirit of social distancing, we have even celebrated holidays via Zoom.
I have learned the proper protocol for attending said meetings such as self-mute when not intending to speak, especially if you have three dogs. If you need to be checked in by the group monitor, you need to provide a name other than iPad. You should wear the proper attire since you never know when you have hit the wrong button and can be seen when not intending to be!
While watching news interviews this past year, I have learned the importance of aiming the camera at something pleasant to look at in the room like plants or a bookshelf.
Zoom use to be a noise that you made when entertaining a small child playing with a toy car. Now, its new meaning has become a way of life. As a result, when I realized that my iPad was at least ten years old and no longer capable of accepting updates and my phone now struggling to hold a charge, was at least seven years old, I decided to replace them. Normally I would have gone to the Apple store or my phone service provider and bought what I needed and had them set everything up for me. This is not an area where I am at all skilled.
When I called my cell phone provider, the computer that answered the call informed me that in keeping with the new business practices that have become necessary this year, there would not be a person to answer this call and I should go to my computer to make an appointment. After two unsuccessful attempts to find anything other than how to update my service and things to buy that I was not at all sure I needed, I decided to put off my quest to make an appointment and focus on getting the needed equipment instead.
I called the Apple store which is a distance from my home and had everything sent. I ordered a new phone, iPad and everything needed to protect them, a case, screen protector, insurance, I was going to do this right because I might not do this again for another seven to ten years.
One morning, I had taken the dogs to the groomer, the house was quiet, and I decided to try yet again to find the elusive prompt on the web site that would allow me to make an appointment with my cell provider. Now that I had my new equipment, I was anxious to get it working.
I sat down at my desk, cup of tea in hand and decided to give it twenty minutes of effort while I sipped. My late husband who was ever supportive used to say to our daughters and me no matter what the task, “you’ve got this. You can do this.” Because he believed in us so much, we believed in ourselves. So, with that same “can do” attitude, I was determined.
About fifteen minutes into my search there was still no magic button, but I did find a telephone number for technical service. I called and the computer that answered the phone proceeded to list a variety of things that I might need help with, none of which were what I was calling about. To the company’s credit, I was not stuck in a loop with no way-out. When the computer was at the end of its capabilities to help, it said “stay on the line and someone will be with you shortly.” Perhaps, this was in fact, what posed for the magic button I was seeking. I was surprised and relieved when an actual person eventually came on the line. They seem few and far between these days. He asked why I was calling, and I explained that I had a new phone and was trying to get an appointment to get it set up and I had trouble navigating their web site. He said I will help you. The in-store technicians would have to call me anyway for assistance.
I said no, this is not an area I have any knowledge in. He said we will do this together I’m sure it will be fine. It will not take very long “You can do this.” Just like the famous line from the movie, “You had me at hello” he had me at you can do this.
He explained that he was not as familiar with Apple phones as he was with some of the others but let’s get started, he said cheerfully. I was instructed to look in the box my phone came in and find a tool that resembled a paperclip.
I found it and was told to locate the hole into which the tool was to be inserted. He thought it might be on the left side of the phone. There was no hole on that side, but I located one on the right that appeared to trigger a small door. Still not entirely convinced that this was something I should be tackling, I continued to fiddle with the tool when suddenly the little door flew open and like a Genie coming out of a bottle the SIM card flew out and wafted to the floor. As I bent over to retrieve it, my office chair, which is on wheels, began to back up right for it.
“Oh expletive&%#!!!!! expletive&%#!!!!”
Paused on the brink of absolute destruction, the chair stopped moving just in time and I was able to retrieve this minuscule piece of technology before it met with a terrible fate. Since my head was under the desk, I truly hoped he had not heard my outburst. I have after all spent the last year learning proper etiquette for encounters with people not actually in my home.
As I righted myself and regained my composure I said, “I have it. What would you like me to do with it?” The man said, “I would like you to read the numbers on it for me.”
I know that at some point in my life I may have been able to see the numbers on something that small but that has not been in many years. Becoming increasingly more flustered and not at all sure that this was a good idea, I said to him calmly, “Would you mind if I get a magnifying glass?” He said, “Oh, of course, take your time.” When I returned, I read him the number and was amazed at the information stored on something so tiny. He instructed me to replace my SIM card to its rightful place.
Not wanting to sound totally ignorant but wanting to move the process along I asked if there was a certain way it went back in since I did not see it before it took flight and landed on the floor. He assured me there was only one way to reinsert it. With magnifier in hand, I discovered that in fact, the corners were shaped differently so that even a neophyte like me could not make a mistake.
We proceeded on and my confidence was beginning to build until he asked me to plug the phone in. It was then I discovered that the cube that allows the device to be plugged into the wall was not included with the new phone. The old one I was prepared to use didn’t fit. There had been some design changes in the past seven years.
When I opened the iPad box, I discovered a cube which would fit both devices. Hallelujah!! that problem was remedied.
We proceeded on and for about the next twenty-five minutes all went well until we hit a snag. The otherwise calm voice on the other end of the phone seemed a bit perplexed. He said, “May I put you on hold? When I come back, I will have an Apple representative on the line with us and we will fix the problem.”
Being put on hold gives one time to ponder the great mysteries of the world. For instance, was the Holy Grail tiny like a SIM card and perhaps not really hidden but overlooked for centuries? Or if the person who has just put me on hold is having a coffee or restroom break. I could use one of those myself.
The sound of a woman’s voice and my technicians as they returned to the line, brought me out of my revery. She introduced herself as an Apple technician and said, “I would like you to undo everything you have done.” That was not what I wanted to hear but as per her instructions, I did exactly that and now we were back to where we started. Going forward, I followed her instructions to the letter. Eventually she said, “We are at the last step.” The three of us were quite relieved, we were nearing success. How long had we been at this?
“Enter your Apple ID” she said. As I hesitated, she asked if I had forgotten it. I said yes. Since we were all seemingly on the same team trying to bring this to a successful conclusion, I said, “Can you tell me what it might be?” She said “No, but I can send it to you.” Ok??
When it arrived, I meticulously entered it so there would be no mistake and I would finally have reached the goal. The phone refused to accept it. The woman said abruptly, “You have a defective phone. You will have to return it to the store.” She promptly left the line. I was left with my technician who was so sure in the beginning we could do this that eventually he had even assuaged my fears.
Apologizing, we prepared to end the call. Suddenly, an eerie sound began to emanate from the new phone that had just been pronounced DOA. It was ringing! The man said “Did your phone just ring?” I said, “Yes. Did you cause that to happen?” He said, “No; perhaps you should answer it.” I picked up the phone poked at the still dark screen and said “Helloooo.”
“Hi. This is the groomer. Just wanted you to know the dogs are ready.” Reality had set in, and I realized it had been two and a half hours since I had originally sat down with my cup of tea. I felt like my head was in a vice and I had the urge to put my head back under the desk, my new-found sanctuary, and scream. Instead, I thanked the man who was truly a credit to his company and said goodbye.
A few days later my son-in-law who I could not love more if he were my own and who knows all of my faults as well as all of my passwords, found the problem with my phone. Apple had given me an obsolete password during set up. Although my confidence was shaken, I actually could have done this and almost had. All in all, the experience taught me that for the next time, if there ever is a next time, I’ve got this!
Eric Robyn says
Thanks, Cindy, your story brings back many memories of frustrating hours spent talking to “techies” to fix my techno issues!
Ray Dupere says
Cindy, I absolutely loved your story … and trust me, it is not just you wives who find such activities daunting. As I have gotten older and as technology has gotten more complicated I too find that I have become less and less desirous of trying to keep up even though it is an unfortunate necessity. Just today I discovered that my USAA app on my iPhone 6 will no longer work because my phone is simply too old and the app now requires a newer phone will updated software!
Cindy Maxson says
Hi Eric and Ray
Thank you for your comments. It’s nice to know that others find technology frustrating. I remember my grandparents phone. It was made of something indestructible and had a three party line. I’m sure none of us could have conceived, at that time, of a phone that can start your car, secure your home, take photos, report the news and weather, play music and do your banking, as well as letting us communicate.
When I count my blessings I have to include the people who help us make this all work.
I hope you and your families have a wonderful upcoming holiday season.
William J. Bahr says
Great effort writing up your fascinating story. Congratulations and kudos. You did it! 🙂
Cindy Maxson says
It was certainly a learning experience. Thank you for your note.