Monday, September 29, 2014

Stand in Line or Unplug Completely?

Last week, the iPhone 6 was released, or was it the 7? Maybe it was the 8. I don’t even know which one I have anymore. As you can tell, I was very excited about the release of yet another expensive phone, which will be obsolete and replaced two times before you finish reading this.
Did our parents or grandparents go through this hassle? Nana had an avocado green, rotary dial wall phone for as long as I can remember. She died in 1985 having never owned a push button phone. Grandma had a white table top rotary phone for as long as I can remember, and she died in 1992 also having never owned a push button phone.
I remember when my mother had the phone company replace our flesh-tone rotary phones with white push button phones, so we could have that wonderful feature “Call Waiting.”
I hate Call Waiting.
I think there is nothing ruder than Call Waiting. “So, what did Marge say … oh wait … I’m getting another call. Hold on.” In other words, I will talk to you until someone more interesting or important comes along.
Dear Abby, who is also dead, said when one is put on hold by Call Waiting, only wait for thirty seconds then hang up. I still do that. I don’t know how many times I have been called back and heard, “Did I disconnect you?” No, asshole, I hung up.
I never take the other call. I hate being interrupted, so I just let it ring.
I have a friend who calls, and if another call comes in, automatically says good bye and hangs up. He is more of an acquaintance now that I think about it.
I have another friend who when the Blue Tooth ear piece came out refused to go anywhere without wearing his. He wanted everyone to know he had this thing in his ear, and when he got a call, he would loudly start the conversation to be sure you knew he was on the phone. The conversations weren't even interesting.
I have a neighbor who always has her Blue Tooth in her ear. She is walking her dog at 4:30 am while wearing that damn thing. Who is calling her? We live in a trailer park. The only calls we get that early are when Scooter needs bail money.
I am the only person I know who will let a phone ring if I am having a conversation with someone. I have never said, “Hold that thought; I need to answer this.” I had a boss who found this disturbing. She would be talking, well more like barking, and my phone would ring. I would ignore it. That is why they invented Voice Mail. Ironically, this same woman would always interrupt me when I was on the phone.
None of this is relevant anymore because everyone texts these days. I still talk, and when I do, it is on one of five rotary phones I have in my house.
Back to the lines. Mother didn’t wait in line to trade in her flesh-tone phone. By the way, flesh-tone is more like cadaver-tone. The phone man came out and exchanged them for us. We also leased the phones. They were warrantied and weighed a ton.
I never stand in line. If I go to a restaurant and there’s a line, I leave. If I am at a car club event or Bar Mitzvah and everyone is standing in line for the food, I wait until everyone has gone through the line. Why stand? The food will be there when they are done.
I also hate being behind people at a buffet, especially when there is a sandwich assembly thing going on. People are so stupid and rude. Just pick up your meat and bread, slap some mayo and mustard on your plate, grab some tomatoes and lettuce, and keep moving. You don’t need to completely assemble your sandwich while standing in line and hold up everyone else.
The worst are the half people. You know these people. They take half of everything. They cut bagels in half, muffins in half, donuts in half. No one eats the other half. I repeat, NO ONE EATS THE OTHER HALF. Just take the whole goddamn thing! They are just trying to act demure as if they have never eaten a whole donut. Please. I can see your ass. Everyone on the East Coast can see your ass. You’ve eaten a dozen donuts while watching The View.
How did I end up talking about food? Oh right. I’m Jewish. All we care about is food – regardless of the venue.
“Aunt Ida, I went to a Klu Klux Klan meeting last night.”
“What did they serve?”
This is about phones and our planned obsolescence.
The iPhone reminds me of the 1955 Chevrolet. This car was so perfect they redesigned it the next year and the year after that, and for 59 years, they have been trying to recapture the essence of the 1955 Chevy.
I understand technology is essential to an ever-changing world, but do we go too far? What can this phone do that mine doesn’t? I can call, text, check Facebook every five seconds to see if another picture of Rose Marie got any likes, and I receive emails – 90 percent of which are ads and junk.
The worst part is the expense. Grandma and Nana had a gas bill, an electric bill, a water bill, a phone bill, and rent. That was it. The television was broadcast free over the polluted air waves and received by their antennas. They even got up to change the channels. They didn't need 600 channels. No one needs 600 channels.
I have the above bills plus an iPhone bill and cable bill, which includes fees for Internet and phone. I love my cable bill. I wanted to cancel my cable land line at one point (replacing it with an old fashioned land line), and they said my bill would increase by $50 a month. I wanted to cancel 596 of the 600 channels I receive, and they said my bill would increase another $50 a month. I am paying for channels I have never watched to save money?
I hate bundling. My life is one big bundle of wires. The more bundling and wireless I go, the more crap I have plugged into the walls.
And now, you expect me to wait in line for a phone I don’t want or need?
What I really want to do is unplug. Completely unplug.
If I got one of those converter boxes for the television, I could watch the five channels that broadcast my shows. I could pay for internet access alone, and with the Roku, I could watch other shows as they are released. I would get rid of the DVR. Is it that important that I never miss a show? I could wait for the show to appear on Hulu. I could get a normal land line.
Well, I did the math, and basically, I am screwed, and so are you. To get a normal land line, I need to pay for installation of phone jacks in three rooms, since the kitchen has the only phone jack. They don’t put phone jacks in houses anymore. I had to buy a brand new home. Getting rid of the cable and going with only internet access and Hulu and Netflix would end up costing more.
Why don’t I just watch whatever is on my five channels when I am awake? I used to do that before they invented the VCR. Maybe I should get a VCR? I wonder if my Betamax is still in the shed?
I could be really radical, and I could get rid of the iPhone and not have any cell phone at all. I lasted 42 years without a cell phone. Yes, I was the last guy to get one.
Or, I could just sit here and kvetch.
But, don’t expect me to stand in line and kvetch. I do my kvetching sitting down.
Before you unplug, order my books: