Archive for Monday, September 19, 2011


River City Jules: Smart phone, smarter shopper

September 19, 2011


After years of owning phones just smart enough to take a photo but not nearly smart enough to Facebook it, I decided it was time for an upgrade.

Unfortunately I am a Libra who, though charming and diplomatic, is excruciatingly indecisive, which is why it took several trips to the store and hours of online research to narrow my options. From the very simple phones with numbers large enough for my aging eyes to read to highly complex computers disguised as phones that, given proper coordinates and passwords, were capable of launching nuclear weapons, I examined them all so thoroughly I could have presented a full list of features and those of the competitors at any wireless company shareholders’ meeting. In my sleep.

After months of weighing the pros and cons of being able to identify any song, actor or rash with the tap of a touch screen, enduring the taunting from my tech-savvy husband and “borrowing” my daughter’s new smart(er than her mom) phone while she was away at camp, I decided upon an adorable little square phone with a keyboard that swivels out from under the touch screen. Orange, smart but not too smart, and, most important, it comes with a Facebook app already installed.

Certain I had just stumbled upon the next new trend, a first for a woman who still hasn’t seen an entire episode of “Mad Men,” I marched into the nearest phone store to purchase the sure-to-be-all-the-rage SmartSquare (not its real name).

I caught the eye of a salesman on the floor and confidently asked him to point me in the direction of the newfangled SmartSquare.

He looked at me like I had just asked for pajama jeans.

“Um, I don’t know if we have those here,” he replied with confusion.

Certain I was so far out on the cutting edge of technology, I tried to describe it to him. “It’s a small square, comes in orange, has Facebook?”

“Yeah, I know what it is,” he nodded, “I just don’t know if we have any left. They’re really old.”

Old? How on earth could they be old? I know they weren’t around during my last annual phone store field trip.

“How old are they?” I asked.

He thought for a moment. “Like, eight months?” he said, counting on his fingers.

Apparently cell phones have the shelf life of a Brie wheel. The relevance of an American Idol winner. The staying power of Botox. I might as well have asked for a beeper.

No wonder Steve Jobs and friends are retiring gazillionaires, they successfully instilled a sense of shame in society, capitalizing on our natural instinct to never become obsolete with an endless supply of carrots to dangle in front of otherwise-satisfied consumers.

Refusing to be rattled by the revelation, this 120-year-old woman (in cell phone years) instead insisted he pull out a SmartSquare from the time capsule in back and give her a contract to sign.

She might not be new, but she’s smart enough to get the job done.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at


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