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A New Era

BOSTON (CBS) - "I'll write you a check."  Blank stare.  "Don't you understand Queen's English?  I said I'll cut you a check!"  More vacant gaze.  So it's come down to this.  Those of us with pen and paper at the ready are being summarily phased out.  It is truly a brave new paperless world.


But this will not be one of those tired essays about the explosion of technology and one Luddite's inability to cope.  I'm hip to most of the major innovations of the day, hanging out all day and night on the bloody desktop doing in digital mode the same damn thing I've been doing since I was ten.  I'm typing.  Hit the keys and words magically appear.  No more worrying about changing ribbons or correction fluid, that's a positive.


Beyond that, I fear that Asimov got it right and the robots are winning.  Forget about military drones overhead, I want to know why it's becoming impossible to pay a bill by mail or call an actual sentient human being to complain about said bill, book an airline or order flowers?


Figure I was inured to the techno babble overtaking us by now.  Little did I know that something rather frightening awaits me.  I find myself preparing for the dreaded upgrade!


Seems when it comes to modern telephony I'm about four years behind the curve, eight ball and the vast majority.  For the longest time a flip phone user, I broke down to buy an iPhone (kindergarten model) several years ago for one reason.  My old dependable phone still did what phones were intended to do---make calls.  But Apple put the iPhone ("prehistoric edition") on sale for under fifty.  It seemed like the telephonic deal of the century, seeing that all of my cool and eager friends paid upwards of five hundred smackeroos for their marvels of technology years earlier. Little did I know that owning one didn't automatically lead to me being "da man." You've got to upgrade constantly to be in the know, to be rad, chic, happening, whatever. Up until this past week, I thought to myself, "Why turn in a perfectly good phone for another model just because the Gods of Apple command it?  I'm better than that, smarter than they are!"


For the longest time (over three years) I've been getting along just fine sending the occasional text, reading e-mails and storing phone numbers.


But the other day I decided it would be nice to have what all the 'Jones's' do, to be able to swipe a finger across the screen for Facebook (to know if somebody out there still likes me).   Turns out I needed an 'app' for that.  Fine, but how the hell do I get one of those? See, I had some kid download an Apple store password that I never used and forgot about over three years ago.  A young Turk in my office came to the rescue and proceeded to reinstall a bunch of things (I decided to go for a tea break at that point).  So I now have that 'app' and how sweet it is, the chance to spend more cash on more things I don't need or care about.  The real issue with my antiquated iPhone now is that it's about as fast as a retiree returning from an early bird special in Boca.  So I was told, lectured to and urged into embarrassment over to go for the upgrade. Now.


I am beset by the strange new language of numbers and letters, one I never signed on for.  2G, 3G (sound like apartment addresses), Moto X, HTML, G Pad, SAR, SAP (I'm starting to feel like one) and JAVA.  If that means coffee, make mine decaf.


There's a disconnect, oh call it what it is, a fear many of us have when faced with new machinery. I still don't care to know anything about bytes, why they're different from bits, or how to photoshop my way into the Olympics next to Vladimir Putin.  It would however be rather nice to learn how to place more than one person on hold or understand how my son is able to program my DVR from his dorm room in England?


The  next time I write you here in this little corner of cyberspace they've allotted me,  I'll  be quipped with the higher grade, faster, more efficient, thumb print activated I phone 5S. And I suppose it might be fun playing with a new toy that turns into a flashlight and shows IMAX movies on a screen the size of a matchbook.


I am proud of one thing. That in an age of super speedy wizardry, we old cranks still know how type with all ten fingers, dial an actual number while speaking into the proper end of a phone.  I bid you adieu with a winning joke (adapted to yours truly) about the desperate state of confusion some of this technology has wrought.


A lovable radio talk show host gets a new cell phone.  The next day he goes to Stop & Shop and his phone rings, so he answers it.

It was his producer.  He says, "Hey JR, how's the new cell phone?"

The talk show host replies, "Great…but how did you know I was at Stop & Shop?"


Found that in an old musty joke book, didn't look it up online!

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