Contrary to popular belief, old people do not spend all day complaining about aches and pains. We kvetch more about frustrations with problems that didn’t exist ten—fifteen years ago. They all have to do with keeping up with the constant changes in technology and keeping our newest hi-tech acquisitions in the “best of health.”
I entered the computer age when I took my Masters in the 80”s. I remember being advised to buy an Apple 2C, and I would not have to pay to have someone type my thesis. I was misinformed that the purchase, which was double what a good computer would cost today, was all my husband and I would ever need to be part of the future. I’m thrilled the same person was not our financial adviser. We never imagined when we planned our first retirement needs budget when we were still very middle-aged, that we left out the high cost of staying connected. This is not a five-dollar bill that can easily be squeezed into a budget.
If you’re reading this, you know the monthly fees to enable my blog bounce around the world on various sights. But how many of you have two monthly exterminating services making house calls. One sprays stuff on my garden and in my house to prevent multilegged bugs from crawling around my home. The other kills the invisible bugs and viruses that somehow get inside my computer despite all the “vaccinations” that are supposed to prevent such mishaps. Instead of old people bragging that they have the “best doctor,” they now boast that their computer specialist is the best diagnostician in town. I’ve yet to hear people brag about their cable or internet carrier. Instead, the complaints about internet and cable services remind me of my mother and her sister complaining about whose aches and pains were worse.
Last month my husband went to the pool to exercise. He forgot to take his cell phone out of his pocket. Unlike his watch, the cell phone wasn’t waterproof. My husband doesn’t have a back up, old-fashioned phone book as I do. He enters numbers solely in his phone. I am sure his cousin, who only has a cell phone and as of yet there are no yellow pages for cell phones, is bummed out that he hasn’t returned her call. Ten years ago, neither my husband nor his cousin carried cell phones. Hopefully, since she is a Facebook friend, she will read this and call me.
Recently, one friend asked if I had received an answer from another friend to an email. “No,” I replied. “Which is weird because she has instant internet service on her cell.”
“She doesn’t know how to get to her email on her new phone, but she won’t admit it.”
Unlike my friend, I won’t bend to social pressure to “have the latest” and invest in a Smartphone that I know I’ll never learn to use. It took years for me to learn to retrieve messages on my present, very basic cell phone, and I’m still not able to enter phone numbers. For this South Floridian, investing in a Smartphone is like buying a snow sled for my grandkids to use when they visit. Life was easier for status seekers when all the needed were jewels, cars, or manufacturer’s labels. I’ve never known a Gucci bag that was attacked with a virus rendering it DOA.
Recently my husband announced that not only our cell phones, but our computers are near the end of their lifespan. “It just doesn’t pay to fix them again.”
He literally has spent more time in the last few weeks investigating what kinds of computers and phones meet our current needs and budget—lap top, desk top, or tablet—than what he should be investigating—which Medigap policy and which Medicare Drug Plan is best for us in 2012. (If you aren’t aware, these plans’ benefits change every year)
I questioned his priorities since, if we have to switch plans, it needs to be done soon. His answer explained why seniors now kvetch more about cell phone and computer problems than aches and pains. “How long will you last if both of our computers and our cell phones drop dead?”
Physically I’ll make it, and I’m in better (communication) shape than he is. I still have my little black phone book, which has landline and cell numbers—and unlike more and more people we know, we still have landlines.