I had to get a new phone last week and encountered, once again, a young person who assumed that because of my age, I was ignorant about technology. I am not. I have always found the best deals on things like recorders, mp3 players, stereos, wireless speakers, etc. Often people have questioned my purchases then, after researching them, bought the same device themselves. I love technology, am very competent and aware of what I don’t know, asking for help when needed. I am constantly learning and love progress. I learned this from my dad.
Dad was the editor in chief of our local newspaper, which had won awards for journalism since his tenure as editor. He also loved technology and was responsible for the newspaper buying computers and getting rid of the printing presses. Because he was also pro-labor (though anti-union) he had all of the men who ran the presses trained for jobs in this new technology, keeping them on as employees. He was a proponent of solar energy back in the 70s before it was popular. Dad also bought every new device that came out almost as soon as they were released to the public. He believed in the future and just had a 6th sense about what was a good product. It seems that he has passed that on to me.
In 1984, I purchased an Apple IIe. Back then, we were using big floppy discs, and you had to do a lot of the programming yourself. I used it mostly for word processing but insisted that my children learn that early and simple programming. I could see it was the wave of the future and didn’t want to be left behind. I have always owned a computer since then and have come to depend on them. I have a desktop, smart phone, digital recorders, I-Pad, Kindle and more. I know how to use them and can often troubleshoot, solving my own issues when possible. I often have friends, who are not as tech savvy, ask for my help. When I do need tech support, I can follow their directions easily and can talk to them intelligently. However, when I go into a store dealing with technology, I am often discounted. It could be partially because I’m a woman, though that is thankfully changing some, but it is mostly because of my age.
So, back to my new phone. I love my service and loved the phone that I accidentally dropped into the bathtub. The phone had been getting glitchy anyway, so I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get a new one. The new one is fine, though a new device always takes a little getting used to. I went to the phone store to see what my options were knowing that I had saved up enough “rewards” points to save $55 on a new device. The first thing that occurred was the young woman who was working, started out being a little condescending, so I decided to set things straight right off telling her that I was quite tech savvy and knew what we were talking about. She proceeded to get into my account by using my passwords and made a comment about being surprised at how great my passwords are. Strike one. Why wouldn’t they be when I told you I’m tech savvy? Then she started showing me the demo phones but didn’t offer to let me try them out, which I did anyway. Strike two. Next, she told me that my rewards weren’t accepted in the store. I found out later from customer service why that was, but she didn’t explain it to me at the time. If she had, I would have gone a different route. But I let that one slide. It wasn’t like I had spent money for those rewards but accumulated them by paying my bill. Eventually, I asked to buy a case. The old case I had was like a wallet with a flap that had slots that held my license, credit cards, cash, whatever I wanted and folded over the screen secured with elastic. Even when I dropped my phone, it was protected by the case and I never had a cracked screen. Because I was sick and tired of all the bullshit by now and had been in the store for over an hour, she managed to convince me that the newer screens were less durable and sold me a screen protector with no case for more than twice what the case would have cost me. She also talked me into a device that hooked into my car and would cost me no extra money because since I was getting that, she could discount something else evening it all out.
When I got home and invariably dropped my phone because it has no case and is thin and slippery, the screen protector cracked. So much for it being more durable than the phone screen. Then, I noticed that my data was very slow, much slower than usual even for a cloudy day. While in the store, I had explained to her that I lived in a solar house off the grid and couldn’t always use the power necessary to turn on my desktop. I told her that my data is very important as is the “hotspot” that gives me WiFi. When I spoke to the customer service rep on the phone about removing my activation fee as a courtesy, she explained that when I got the car device, my data was bumped down to satellite service and my hotspot was reduced. STRIKE 3!!!
The next day I went raging into the phone store and spoke to the manager. Fortunately for me, the story has a happy ending. Unfortunately for the young girl behind the counter, I suspect it does not have such a happy ending. It is very frustrating that after having dealt with sexism for many years, now that things are finally changing for women, I am now 65-years old and dealing with ageism. It’s hard enough to have new aches and pains and medical issues that require constant monitoring. But now, I am ignored or talked down to pretty regularly. Do you wonder why some old people are so grumpy? Try living in their shoes. We’ve been around for a long time, learning as we go. We’re smart and experienced. Why do younger people assume we’re not? We can be very engaging conversationalists. I had a wonderful chat with an 85-year old woman in line at the grocery store the other day. She was fascinating and fun. Everyone else ignored her. They had no idea what they were missing out on. It was the high point of my day. Please talk to elderly folks. Many of them are lonely and, hopefully you’ll be there one day. You can be the change you wish to see.