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Please: all I want is a phone that makes phone calls

Joyce Walter reflects on the purchase of new technology
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

The message received back in 2017 was devastating to a household that to that point didn’t contain one tech savvy person. The message: our flip phone would be obsolete in a month’s time and would need to be replaced.

That flip phone, shared between Housemate and myself, with only select and trusted friends and family having the number, had been a carefully thought-out purchase, one we made because back in those days we travelled the highways extensively and family members at home felt there should be some form of contact possible, just in case.

The instrument was meant for one thing only: making phone calls in an emergency. It didn’t text, take photos, have apps for fast food restaurants, was unable to give travel directions and never, ever interrupted our lives with unwanted messaging. It was a tug at our hearts to think it would no longer be part of our lives.

But off we went to the phone store where I told the young chap we needed a cellphone that would only make phone calls. Meanwhile Housemate said, likely thinking he was “hip” that we wanted iPhones. That meant to me that we wouldn’t be sharing a phone and that our lives would be changed forever.

Neither of us understood most of what the youngster told us, he talking so quickly, mouthing words we didn’t grasp, with his fingers flying over the phones’ screens making some kind of connective magic.

We left the store with two phones, one for me, one for Housemate, with an invitation to return for lessons. The lesson didn’t help much but we both figured out how to make phone calls and which buttons to push to turn the phones on and off.

In the next five years those phones wormed their way into our daily lives, so much so that Housemate constantly was talking, texting, taking photos and reading stories and learning obscure information. A friend dubbed the phone Housemate’s “Magic Machine.” I was more circumspect, doing a bit of texting, taking half-decent photos when my real camera was at home, and doing what I originally wanted to do, that being making and receiving phone calls.

Then right after the new year I came home from an appointment to see Housemate looking with concern at the screen where he was told a text written to send to a friend “was not delivered.” Again and again he tried and received the same message. I was sure he had touched the wrong button.

I tried to send a text from my phone and what the heck, got the same message. Housemate was not to blame after all.

In less than half an hour we were at the phone shop where a young man (does no one hire older men any more?) greeted us with a smile and once hearing our problem, confided that we weren’t the first customers to come in that day with the same problem. A conspiracy was afoot!

He referred us to a pleasant young lady who certainly must have thought we had just stumbled out of a cave. We could answer only a few of her questions about data and storage space and clouds and updates. She was patient, never once showing by facial expression or tone of voice that she was wishing she had been busy when we showed up.

The news she imparted after careful examination of our iPhone 6s was that we would need new phones and she produced two iPhone 11s for our inspection and approval. We sat there in our dumbfounded way as she took all the necessary steps to send us away as satisfied customers.

We thanked her for her assistance, apologized for making her miss her lunch and said we might be back on Monday. With some glee she advised she would be on holidays the following week.

Whatever she did, my phone, early the next morning, rang once. It was Housemate calling. His phone also rang once. The call was from my phone. We have no idea why those calls were made, or how, or if they will happen again.

Housemate is busy learning how to call Siri so he can text without typing. I’m waiting for the credit card bill to see in print the final tabulation for just wanting to make a phone call.

God bless technology designed for obsolescence.

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.