I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
“Your brother showed me how to bring up a list of names on my cell phone,” my father told me, taking his cell phone out of his pocket. I was rather impressed that he had his cell phone with him. It usually doesn’t leave the house. “But now I can’t remember how he did it,” my father continued, handing the phone over to me.
I opened the flip-phone. It was turned off, as usual. “You need to keep the phone on, Dad, if you want to use it,” I told him. I’ve actually told him this many times, always with the same response from him.
He didn’t disappoint. “It runs the battery down,” he told me. “I just turn it on when I need it.”
The phone powered up and came to the main screen. “See where it says, ‘Contacts,'” I told him, pointing to the tiny words in one corner. He squinted his eyes and looked at it. Has anyone come up with a senior citizen large print phone? They ought to.
“Yes,” he said, once he found it.
“This button correlates with that,” I said, and pushed the button to show him.
“Well, there’s that list of names,” he said joyfully.
“Just remember ‘Contacts,'” I said.
“Well, how do I get to your name?” he asked, since the list started with “A” names and mine, beginning with “S” was nowhere to be seen.
“It’s all alphabetical,” I explained, “and you scroll through the list by pushing this button.” I showed him how to scroll and we found my name. “If you wanted to call me,” I went on, “you select my name by pushing here.” Another demonstration followed revealing that he had two numbers programmed into his cell phone for me: my cell phone and my home phone. I wondered who had programmed all of this in for him. I think it was Charlie, because he was living with my father when my father had gotten this particular phone. “Then, you select which number you want to dial by scrolling again, and then you hit send, and it will call me.”
It hit me that this was a lot of button pushing. I mean, it all makes sense, to me anyway, but it’s a lot to remember when you’re in your eighties.
I closed the phone rather than call myself, and thought we could walk through the process again. I opened it and asked my father, “Do you remember how I got to the names?”
“Um…well…no, not really,” he confessed.
“Look for where it says, ‘Contacts’ and find the correlating button below.”
He fumbled through the process, step by step, asking questions at each new button he needed to push. Then we did it again.
The whole process was exhausting for him. He finally powered the phone down and stuck it back in his pocket.
“Okay, thanks,” he said, but I wondered if he had really gotten it all.
We sat quietly for a few minutes, then he said,”You don’t have to show me now, but do you know how to add more people to the list on the phone?”
“Yes, Dad,” I said. “I have a sure-fire never-fail way that I use. And it’s super easy.”
“Oh, that’s sounds great,” he said with a relieved smile.
“I can tell you it right now. It’s not hard to remember,” I told him.
“Okay,” he said, nodding for me to continue.
“Find some under the age thirty, hand them your phone, and tell them what you want entered. Any one of your grandchildren would do. Even Hannah,” I told him. “It’s what I do, and it works every time.”
He laughed and laughed.
He’s an old dog (well, so am I) and could probably learn the new tricks, but sometimes there’s an easier way.