For some years I watched my little grandchildren with their smart-phones. They played games, even while I was talking to them, they texted each other, while I was teaching them and they were taking photographs while I was trying to show them something. Once or twice I asked them to show me and they did, for all of three seconds and then they grabbed it away from me and went back to their games. “It’s complicated, Pop! Better you stick to your old phone.” And so I did.
But it gnawed at me. I was good with my old model phone and I helped other people here at the Retirement Home with their old phones by deleting their unanswered messages, finding their new unanswered messages and adding new people to their contacts. I also use an iPad. I can zoom my way from the Stock Exchange live to the sports results to a quotation from Shakespeare in microseconds.
I should have a smart phone, one as smart as I am, one that will make my grandchildren gape at me in admiration. “See that old guy there on the bench? That’s my grandfather. He’s busy texting his broker! Not bad at his age, huh?”
I hunted around, checked prices, found a shop with a nice sounding name in Nathan Road, Hong Kong and ordered my smart phone. Here the story ends – I am no longer smart.
This confounded phone has reduced me to a school boy. It has a logic system called Android. Somewhere in the mists of my mind I remember Android – he was an anthropomorphic robot – a robot that looks like a human with no built-in logic at all. Now he’s in my phone! I cannot answer phone calls nor can I make calls. I cannot find old numbers nor can I add new. I cannot text messages and I only see incoming messages 3 days after they have arrived.
The good news is that my Android can take pictures and I can find them afterwards in the Gallery to show my few remaining friends. But I cannot send these pictures anywhere except back to the shop where I ordered the phone. And that may be the problem. Could it be that they sent me a camera instead of a phone? It looks like a phone…
On another note after almost a year’s experience I have to say that being in one’s 80’s is no big deal. There have been no major changes; my back is still bent and I still walk like a question mark. The doctors are still puzzling at the condition and trying different pills on me. Some days I wander around like a zombie and other days I sleep a lot, but my old back remains bent. On the memory side I recognized and greeted a couple of old acquaintances yesterday – they are both pushing 90 and I’m not sure they knew who I was. My appetite is great and I can still read the small print. What did happen is that this morning, whilst scrunched over the crossword, I found myself sitting with the answer to a clue hanging off the end of my tongue and not making it all the way to the pen.
That’s the only change I can detect, a suggestion of slow retrieval from the vast storage system I shlep around with me. The filing system is full, most of the drawers overflowing:
- ‘Family and Friends’ is pretty full.
- ‘Engineering and Information Technology’ is bursting and has a notice hanging on the front – “no new information accepted here’.
- ‘Culture’ has small spaces available between the books, music and writing.
- ‘Department of Useless Information’ which houses miscellaneous and little used stuff has huge globs of information hanging from it hoping it will still be called on to provide an answer. There is no ‘Full’ notice so I keep pushing more and more in there hoping it will find a place. But I’m starting to think it’s a waste of time. I can still rack up a respectable score at the monthly trivia evening here at the retirement home.
We all go through life building these huge storage systems for ourselves, convinced they are made of concrete and will be there forever. It’s not like that at all. They are made of some kind of Jello and are highly susceptible to outside influence. In extreme cases they melt and leave one with no memory at all.
Oh yes, the crossword character I couldn’t remember in the story of Jason and the Argonauts was Helle. How on earth could I forget him?
Crosswords, 80 year olds, Memory, Retrieval, Seniors, Retirement home, Information storage, Jason and the Argonauts, Helle, Jello, Trivia
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