“Oh, no!” I thought to myself, in despair. My smart phone was not acting so smart.
In a Covid lockdown world, I headed off to the nearest phone shop in the large shopping centre not far away. Entering this temple of Mammon, with a mask, I approached the hovering group of phone-tech savvy assistants, right on opening time.
“How can I help you?” asked a glossy, bright teen, wearing a sparkling name tag that read “Indiah.” Well, I told her my sad tale of my plastic phone’s dysfunction. A grey male of my age wandered past, munching a hamburger.
“Isn’t that disgusting?” Indiah fumed, hunched over my phone’s innards. “I’m a vegan. Did you see our protest last night? It was on the news.” Ever the diplomat, I did not tell her that vegans give me the blip. I pondered on conducting a sit-down steak protest, but I needed a phone that was functional.
Agreeing that I had to replace my phone, Indiah chatted on about her new wheels, her desired to travel to Asia after Corona, and what she thought of her now ex blip-boy. Plus some exciting recipes I never planned to cook. Very chatty. This was all while Indiah was explaining the technological advances on my new (expensive) phone, about which I was mastering nothing.
Bemused, I prepared to wander away into suburbia, clutching my new purchase. When I was her age, it was trendy to smoke cigarettes and sunbake to have brown legs. Alfalfa and mung beans were so not our scene. Indiah was the latest breed of teenagers, smiling and gleaming at me. Turning to her workmates, she muttered, “Who gave oldies phones?” Another older grey drew near, clutching his dysfunction.
This reminded me of my late mother on a bad hair moment. I was visiting her one afternoon while her second husband, my stepfather, was in a cardiac unit. He had been phoning her constantly over the prior three days. My mother, equally in despair, asking, “What do you want now? No, I don’t want to know. You are in a hospital. Buzz for a nurse. I am your wife, not a nurse. Stop ringing me up!” Slamming down the phone, mother moaned, “Who gave old men phones?”
Sounds like Indiah at the end of each day in that phone shop. I arrived home and requested that a young teenage friend come over to explain my dither about my new phone. When in doubt about this digital world we inhabit, ask a teen. Even if they are vegan, bisexual drama queens. Who, indeed, gave us oldies phones?
— Julie Grenness
Julie Greness is a poet and writer in Australia. She’s a former teacher who now tutors and mentors young people.