If you were to call me on my old iPhone to ask when telephone technology reached its peak, I would have told you it was the day Alexander Graham Bell invented it and that the entire industry has been going downhill ever since, except you wouldn’t hear me because the reception would be so bad that it would seem like the nearest cellphone tower was on Pluto, which would give Disney an excuse to charge me for phone service.
Now that I have a new iPhone, I would be happy to discuss telephone technology with you, unless I didn’t recognize your number, thought you were a scam artist and refused to pick up.
Still, I owe my technological upgrade to Josh Frankel, a retail sales consultant who knows more about phones than Bell himself, which admittedly isn’t difficult considering the inventor died almost a hundred years ago and isn’t on my list of contacts.
Speaking of which, the contacts mysteriously disappeared from my old phone, ascending into the iCloud on a day when it wasn’t even iCloudy.
It was the final insult from a device that had no doubt been the inspiration for an advertising campaign that asked the eternal telephonic question: “Can you hear me now?”
“Yes, I can,” Josh said when my wife, Sue, and I went to a nearby AT&T store to exchange our old phones for newer models that, in my case, wouldn’t do much good anyway since nobody wants to talk with me.
My enthusiasm over the fact that Josh could actually hear me was tempered somewhat by the additional fact that I wasn’t on the phone at the time.
“You’re sitting right next to me,” Josh pointed out. “If I couldn’t hear you, a phone wouldn’t do me much good, either.”
I heard Josh when he politely told me that I had the stegosaurus of phones, the iPhone 4, which I bought in 2012 and hadn’t really learned how to use aside from: (a) forgetting where I put it, (b) butt dialing complete strangers and (c) punctuating almost every conversation with indelicate language when, because I was invariably in a dead zone, it seemed like I was talking to a mime.
“You have to move up,” Josh said.
“You mean I’d get better reception on the roof?” I asked.
“No,” Josh replied. “I mean you need a better phone.”
Then he said that most people don’t use the phone part of phones anymore.
“Wouldn’t that be like not using the driving part of cars anymore?” I wondered.
“I guess so,” Josh said. “But if someone calls me, I know it’s not important. If it’s important, they’ll text me.”
Josh, who’s 27 and has been working in the wireless industry for eight years, knows whereof he speaks, even if it’s not into a phone. That’s why he was so helpful to me and Sue, who had problems of her own because her phone, an iPhone 5S, lost all of her emails.
“Fortunately,” Sue told Josh, “I have an iPad.”
“Do you have an iPad?” Josh asked me.
“No,” I responded. “But I do have iTeeth.”
Nonetheless, we both needed new phones. Josh suggested the iPhone 8, which has a larger screen and more advanced features.
Josh transferred everything from our old phones to our new ones, though he couldn’t recover my contacts, which numbered about 100 and probably included people I had never heard of.
“You’ll have to start all over,” Josh said.
“That’s OK,” I told him. “One of the first people I am going to put on there is you. What’s your number?”
Josh gave it to me, then showed me how to set up my contact list.
“Thanks,” I said. “I’d ask my 4-year-old granddaughter, who knows how to break into her mother’s phone by circumventing the password, but she isn’t here.”
“Put her on your contact list, too,” Josh suggested. “I’m sure she’d love to talk with you. And now that you have a new phone, you’ll come through loud and clear.”