I've fallen and I can't get up!
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

My handicap has aged me before my time. Cell phones, for example, have created a whole new problem for me. I suppose the fact that I have one at all makes me somewhat young. The fact that it comes with the five star alert system and free medication reminder does not.

The problem began when my old flip top died. Apparently, technology has advanced light years in the last 18 months. When did cell phones become so complicated? Me, at the phone store: No, I don’t care about apps. No, I don’t want to be able do four things at once. No, I don’t need to get on Facebook when I’m out. (I can’t see the screen well enough to know whose calling let alone post cute pictures.) I just want to make calls! And text. I can text. But the old school way – scrolling through the alphabet, hitting the same key multiple times. I don’t want a full-size keyboard with keys the size of bread crumbs.

And smart phones with touch screens are out of the question. I can’t make that smooth little swiping motion. For a while, I thought the voice recognition feature would be cool. Then I realized, with my voice the phone doesn’t even seem to recognize I’m speaking English.

I finally succumbed. I am now the not-so-proud owner of The Jitterbug. The phone for old people. I use the term “old people” with absolutely no qualms, because I’ve discovered that regardless of your age, “old” is always at least 10 years older than you. (And when I say you, I mean anyone reading this.) The possible exception to that may be my 95-year-old grandmother, who might finally acquiesce to being old, but who could probably run circles around half of you. (Well, maybe not run, but she could definitely trike circles around you — she puts in two miles a day on her tricycle.) Besides, while not as respectful as writing “older people,” using the term “old people” is just funnier.

So, I bought the phone for old people. And, in doing so, became the youngest person in the world ever to own one. It’s not the “I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” system, but it’s close. I actually have to push 5 and then the * key for assistance, but the idea is the same. You’ve seen the ads. Help for your mom. Or your dad. Or handicapped friend. You could hear the surprise in the operator’s voice every time I called to ask about speed dial (non-existent) or getting a picture onto my computer. (I still haven’t figured that out. The Jitterbug doesn’t appear equipped to handle such techy tasks.) But the loud and slow-speaking person on the other end was happy to try to add a pill reminder or nurse practioner call to my service. They’ll even have someone call in every day just to check on me! My luck, I’d miss the call while fumbling the phone and they’d call out the SWAT team.

I need The Jitterbug for it’s large, easy to read font and big buttons. What I don’t need are simple memory match games or a customer service number that always rings straight to a live person. Sometimes I just want to get down to business, not chit-chat about the weather down here in Florida like I’m just a stone’s throw from the nursing home. But, I haven’t found a happy medium. I’m too disabled for a smart phone and too with it for The Jitterbug. So, next time you’re cursing some automated system and praying to speak to a live person, just think of me being condescended to by a 20-year-old or being asked how many times I get up at night to go to the bathroom so they can assess my fall risk. One day, they’ll come out with a phone for middle-aged people called The Grasshopper, but until then, be careful what you wish for.