2011-06-23 / Sam Bari

Please answer the microwave

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

A couple of months ago my cell phone contract ended. I was again strapped with the arduous task of upgrading to a new phone, hopefully with up-to-date technology.

We all have to do this every two years and I dread the thought for the entire time I am waiting for my new phone to become obsolete. As I understand it, my last phone was obsolete the day I bought it.

Anyway, I perused the Internet determined to get the latest and greatest the marketplace had to offer. After a dizzying search through hundreds of phones, I found a model that does everything. The reviews were stellar.

I was so excited that I called my son to tell him I thought he should look into buying one of these space-age gems. After I raved about it for 20 minutes or so, all he had to say was, “Oh yeah. I have one.”

I was not going to let his lessthan enthusiastic candor dampen my spirits. My find was exciting. The phone Web site emphasized, “user-friendly – anybody can operate it.”

I am not going to mention the brand of this phone because I do not want to be sued. It is not the manufacturer’s fault that I am digitally challenged.

This cell phone is so userfriendly that is doesn’t even come with a manual. It has a help feature that explains everything. My previous cell phone had a manual that was as big as the average dictionary, but the print was smaller. When my contract ended, I was only on page 10. I could barely make a phone call on it.

When I saw the video demo for this new phone, it was awesome. The phone did everything my old phone did, only much more, and it looked so easy to use.

According to the demonstration, I would be able to take highresolution photographs and videos with a built-in five-megapixel camera. I could even download applications to edit an entire movie right on my phone.

It could be used as a wireless remote control device for anything with Bluetooth technology. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but the demo showed the printer as it printed a picture from the phone without so much as a wire connecting the two devices.

All I knew was, this was the phone for me.

Six weeks went by and I had yet to venture into the more sophisticated features of my new phone. I decided to take a weekend, bite the proverbial bullet, and learn how to use this thing so I could enjoy it like the thousands of others who owned one.

My first task was to synchronize the phone with my computer. I don’t know what I did, but when I tapped the screen according to the instructions, my microwave oven went on.

This was very strange, because I never use my microwave oven to cook. It is a complex digital device perfect for storing hamburger buns and pies. Somehow, I did something wrong and the microwave started to defrost.

By the time I got my panicstricken wits about me and unplugged the thing to turn it off, my hamburger buns were the perfect size for making individual sandwiches out of Chicken McNuggets.

I tried to undo whatever I did wrong by pressing another button on the touch-sensitive screen, which caused my garage door to open. When I attempted to close it with the remote control in my car, the alarm to my house activated. I closed the garage door with the control switch on the garage wall and all the doors to my house locked. I was trapped in the garage when the alarm started getting louder.

Besides the alarm, all I could hear was the wail of police sirens and cars screeching to a halt in my driveway. The police pounded on my doors and windows and ordered me to open up.

Then the cell phone rang. I answered it hoping for a friendly voice and much needed help. But no – it was the microwave oven. It was trying to communicate with the washing machine.

The police broke into my house and disarmed the alarm system. They found me cowering in the garage in a fetal position begging them not to shoot. I will never recover from the humiliation.

Digital devices and sophisticated cell phones are a large part of why we live in a system we have no hope of ever understanding.

Return to top