Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Last Blackberry Standing

There is still a typewriter repair shop in the Twin Cities, bravely holding out in its own personal Alamo at the corner of Penn and 63rd. I’m taking a bit of solace in that fact these days, now that I am the last person in my family, and perhaps in a hundred-mile area, to still be using a Blackberry. While my friends are whipping out Smartphones that calculate their calories burned, brain waves expended and exact location in the universe at every moment, I still think I’m a snappy bit of tech genius because I don’t have to go home every couple hours to check my email on my personal computer (the one with the massive CPU under the desk).

I hadn’t really intended to be such a Luddite (I discovered, not on a smartphone, that they were 19th-century English textile artisans who violently protested against the machinery introduced during the Industrial Revolution). Laziness is a contributing factor, but mostly I haven’t stood in line overnight at the Apple store for the same reason that I buy my annual pair of “pearl” earrings at Wal-Mart – I can’t be trusted with the nice stuff. These Smartphones may be fabulous, but they have a supermodel’s delicate constitution, which is a bad way to roll if you’re a piece of equipment owned by Julie Kendrick the Impaler (just ask my mortally wounded KitchenAid and my recently deceased Cuisinart).

A drop of water, an accidental fall, and it’s curtains for these delicate little Smartphone butterflies (after a tearful trip to the Genius Bar for last rites). My Blackberry, on the other hand, has an aura that is utterly Midwestern … boxy, ugly, clunky – but reliable in a un-show-off-y way. The last time I was in New York, I was having lunch with three friends, and, as we got up to leave the table, I accidentally swept my Blackberry to the floor. My friends, whose pockets each held the absolute latest in phone tech, collectively gasped. “Hey fellas,” I said calmly, “It takes more than a tumble to the hardwood floor at Joe Allen to bust up this baby.”

One of them gingerly picked up my phone for me, and was sore amazed to see its cover intact. I imagined it was how a Lamborghini owner’s face must look after a fender-bender with a rusty Buick that’s crumpled his fancy little ride beyond recognition. This thing is ugly, but it sure is strong, I could almost hear my pal saying. He noticed the bright blue strip at the top of my phone. “Is this a special device to improve your 4G connection?” he asked, hoping that I was somehow leading-edge in my clunkiness. “No, it’s a piece of painter’s tape so I’ll stop stealing my husband’s phone, since we have identical models,” I replied. Midwesterners, I could tell he was thinking. Those winters are just a little too long out there.

I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to withstand the approaching tsunami of the Smartphone, but I’m hoping that inertia keeps me bobbing in place for at least a little while. I think of all the outmoded bits of business paraphernalia that I’ve seen in my day – the shoulder-breaking garment bag that every serious businessperson was required to carry, until suddenly it became okay to use rollerbags; the one fax machine that existed in an office, to which everyone had to run for their latest business updates; the one-ton roll of 30” x 40” presentation flip charts that I ferried, gasping, through the Detroit airport.

It’s enough to make me nostalgic for portable electrics, circular erasers with the brushes on the ends, and White-Out. I think I may check out that Typewriter Repair Shop one of these days. It might be time to downgrade from this newfangled laptop, after all.

1 comment:

  1. It might be because I have a flip phone...or a cassette deck in my car that I actually use...or simply that I'm in touch with my curmudgeonly self, but I love this. You made me laugh aloud (sorry, I haven't embraced "LOL" yet either).