HARDBARNED! The Blog

Dumb And Dumber Phones

My new dumb phone, as it turns out, is not only dumb but perhaps better described as a slow, dim, or even stupid phone. I intended to buy a dumb phone when I went to the phone shop the other day after my apartment flooded and my wife’s phone drowned.

The screen on her cell resembled this, so I broke it in half, after sucking 50 gallons of water out of the carpet. I then decided it was time for a trip to the phone shop for an engaging conversation with a commission-paid sales person, an interaction I prefer to avoid as much as possible, particularly when purchasing high-end electronics. I like to do my own research online and make decisions without a snappily dressed and excessively perfumed young person lurking about offering special offer rebate doublespeak and unsubtle up-selling.

Neither of us has any need for a smart phone. We have smart computers and iPods already. Our television is of at least above-average intelligence. Our appliances are all smart enough to do their jobs. What more could we ask of them?

I don’t want a camera on my phone. I don’t feel randomly compelled by noteworthy unfolding events to record them in a fuzzy, low-lit, half-megapixel sort of way. If I need a camera, I’ll find one for the occasion. I don’t need a miniature keyboard with tiny buttons the size of mouse droppings. I don’t want to type anything on my phone.

I don’t want to watch a movie on a screen the size of a gum wrapper. I don’t need to surf the internet when I’m buying groceries or check my email between beers when I’m at the bar for wings night with my friends. I succumbed to the incredibly annoying innovation of text messaging, yes, but I try to keep it to a socially acceptable minimum.

I avoided the smart phones instinctively and went to the display marked “Simple Phones.” Ah, simplicity, the mark of true technological innovation. I like my electronics to perform at the level of a well-designed stapler. I prefer them to do exactly what I want--those few straightforward tasks that I ask of them--and to do them the same way every time, reliably, efficiently.

Don’t complicate things with layers of fancy crap that I don’t need or won’t use. Just do one thing really well, like a great local mom-and-pop restaurant, defiantly thriving despite being surrounded by a rapidly expanding perimeter of smorgasbord chains and all-you-can-eat troughs.

The grandma model looked perfect to me. With comparatively enormous, well-lit buttons and screen fonts, no internet, and no camera, this one even had a bright red 911 button, in case I’ve fallen and can’t get up. It was cheap and two-for-one. I took two. Even though I didn’t need a new phone, it was cheaper by far to buy two than to replace one because the phone company now has their hooks in us for another two years.

This reminds me of how the cable company makes it significantly cheaper to buy internet service with basic cable than internet by itself. They are determined to shove commercials down your throat like Serena Williams wants to shove tennis balls.

The problem is that this new dumb phone appears to be a little too dumb. It doesn’t ring unless it’s in the mood. Sometimes it just lets me know I have a voicemail instead. Occasionally it won’t work unless I hold it in some ridiculous way, like upside down and touching a photo frame against the wall, or leaning sideways with a pinky out, for example.

I feel sometimes like I’m doing an interpretive dance just trying to make the thing work. There is a considerable and problematic delay between pushing a button and the resulting action, which leads to a debacle when navigating the computerized phone tree of the bank, the internet service provider, or better yet, the phone company.

But I think I’ll keep it. It pretty much works, for the most part, I guess. My wife doesn’t mind hers, even though it doesn’t ring half the time. I kind of like being the only person with the dumb phone, unless you count my buddy whose phone makes him sound like Darth Vader underwater. His phone is pretty dumb too.

Post-script: Four years later, I assimilated.