Monday, May 20, 2013
“Yes, we’d like one for my wife, but I just want something simple. My fingers and hands don’t work very well anymore. I need big buttons, not a touchscreen.”
He stroked the peach fuzz on his chin, deep in thought. “I’ve never heard of a phone with big buttons.”
There was a picture on the wall behind him of a woman with the caption “Hi, I’m Klare, the Store Manager. Let me know if I can help you!” She looked confident, knowledgeable, experienced. She looked at least 22. “Can I talk to your manager? Maybe she’ll have an idea.”
Thirty seconds later, Klare was there, ready to help. “I just need a cell phone,” I said. “I don’t care about a touchscreen or the internet or texting or talking to Siri or any of those extra things. And it has to have big buttons.”
“I’ve never seen a phone like that, but I’ve read about them on Wikipedia.” It was reassuring that Klare had done so much research at such an authoritative source. I could see why she was the Store Manager. “You might be able to find one on Ebay. The only problem is that often the seller doesn’t have the cords anymore.”
My wife and I looked at each other and smiled. Our kids make fun of us because we have two boxes in the basement containing every electrical cord we have ever owned. It would be sweet revenge if we actually got to use one of them!
Once home, I got on the internet and started to go to Ebay when I had a better idea. I googled “Cell Phones Big Buttons”. Exactly .29 seconds later I had about 1,830,000 results and bought the first phone on the list.
I’ve had the phone about a week now and really like it, but clearly, its target audience is much older than I. For example, the phone gets FM radio reception. Only people over the age of 80 would think that was cool. (Mabel: “George, the cell phone comes with FM radio!” George: “Mabel, what in tarnation is FM?”) The ring tones that come with the phone are a phone ring from the 1920s, the Andy Griffith theme song and “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. The cool great-grandpas can also choose “Dragnet”, “Hawaii Five-0” and “James Bond”. It also has a special “funeral mode” which automatically changes the ring tone to “Amazing Grace”. The ring tone volume is adjustable, but even the softest level is louder than an infomercial in the middle of the night.
There is also a keen safety feature which only people of a certain age can appreciate. If you can’t wait for help to arrive if you dialed 911, there is a big red button on the back of the phone you can use to call for more immediate help. When you push the button, a VERY loud voice yells for help. The three standard yells you can choose from are “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”, “Help! I have no idea what I’m doing here!” and ”Help! Someone stole my clothes!” You can also record a custom message. Mine says “Help! I can’t find my TV remote!”
You may think my message is silly, but you would be wrong. Just the other day, I called Comcast to get some help with a technical issue we were having. The woman on the phone fixed my problem, then asked helpfully “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Well, do you know where my TV remote is?”
“The one upstairs or the one in the basement?”
“The one upstairs.”
“Did you look under the red pillow on the sofa?”
Sure enough it was there! So you just never know.
David LeSueur lives in Littleton, Colorado with his wife Mary. He still has his TV remote, but is missing a brown dress sock. Could someone from Comcast please call him?