See My Thumb, Gee I’m Dumb


Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I received an email this week from Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, congratulating me as the 7th Billionth customer to purchase an iPhone.  Apparently, there were only two people left on earth –some nomadic Mongolian named Davaa and myself – who had yet to convert.  In my case, I had been resisting Apple’s 21st century phone due to a deep addiction to my Blackberry. In Davaa’s case, he simply preferred texting using smoke signals from horse dung fires.

For years, I have been a power Crackberry user.  Having mastered the ability to type without actually looking at the keys, I sent memos while sitting in dark theatres and dimly lit taxis.  My ability to write a missive under the table at dinner while maintaining eye contact with my spouse placed me in a rare pantheon of Research in Motion uber-texters.  I could bang out three page memos in a matter of minutes.  To the chagrin of my colleagues, I was effectively Twittering with unlimited characters – sharing my frequent inspirations and authoring Pulitzer Prize winning memorandums.

I could compose documents while working out on the elliptical at the gym.  I wrote several chapters of a book as well as numerous columns for the paper while jogging through the air on my metal lectern.  I debated entering the “50 and Over” age bracket for the national texting competition. I was beyond productive.  I was a prodigious, verbally incontinent cyber God.

Yet, my prolific emailing had a darker side and eventually led to several attempts on my Blackberry’s life.  Someone was going to great lengths to incapacitate my hand held device.  At first, it was innocently “misplaced” for a week between the cushions of the sofa.  It was run over in the driveway by a car. Each assault was well coordinated and clearly intended to discourage me from my manic memo writing.  Yet, My plucky hand held partner would not die.

About this time, I became increasingly aware of people using iPhones with Face Time video chat and those glued to Apples and Hulu Plus watching lost episodes of Lost.  My plain Jane Blackberry clearly had her limitations but I had promised to remain with her in sickness and in health. It finally took a very bad day – a depleted battery and a Blackberry server outage followed by the inability to download an important attachment – to force me to defect from RIM and join the Apple Army.

I had been the subject of ridicule by my three teens for failing to keep up with technology.  I countered that this was a productivity tool and that I was a very productive tool.  When I finally relented and upgraded to an iPhone, their reaction would have made you think that I had received a donor kidney.  The phone was immediately ripped from my hands and loaded up with a million useless applications including one that would allow me to successfully sign with a deaf Croatian dwarf should I ever encounter one.

They introduced me to Siri, the fickle female genie and purported personal valet that would manage my cyber universe.  When no one was looking, I attempted to communicate to Siri.

“Hi, Siri”

“I don’t understand you.”

“I just said, hello”

“Whatever.”

Apparently, Siri is a teenager.  My first attempt to send an email did not go well.  I felt like I was typing while wearing two catcher’s gloves.  With the Blackberry, my digits felt slimmer than Eubie Blake’s fingers.  After switching to the iPhone, my hands suddenly transformed into bloated zeppelins.  I became a human thumb.  The phone presumptuously corrected every word for me resulting in my first gaffe as I responded to a colleague’s email to please review a report he had written before the end of the evening.

I quickly tapped out, “I’ll peek at it when I get home.”

Within a minute, I received an email that simply read, “TMI. It’s not that bad.”

Glancing back at the castrated message, Siri had mischievously corrected my note to read, “ I’ll pee on it when I get home.”

My next multi-paragraph email took one hour and I finally deleted it out frustration due to typos and castrated syntax. Somewhere in the cosmos my colleagues were declaring this day a national holiday from the tyranny of my Blackberry memos.

That night, I dreamed that a giant Isotoner glove was chasing me.   I awoke the next day and went to get my morning Zumbach’s coffee.  My nose was running and my hand was shaking. I was clearly having withdrawals from my Blackberry.  Everyone around me was happily swiping and tapping on iPhones.  I just wanted my old Blackberry – who was now home, drained of his battery and staring up at me with a blank screen saying, “why, Mike, why?”

I sat at the small table tucked in between a bustle of morning java Junkies, reassured by the smell of roasted beans and the caffeine now coursing through my veins.

“I can do this.” I declared as I typed another memo to staff.

After two sentences, the phone kept self-correcting to pronouns and verbs that I did not understand. My blood pressure began to rise and I squeezed the phone – which caused Siri to wake up.

“What can I help you with?”

“I want you to die, Siri!”

“I am sorry. I can’t do that.  Self euthanization is illegal.”

Just then I got a text message from my son.

“How’s the phone?”

“Not good.  It is messing up and writing weird notes.”

“I programmed it to self correct in Dutch. hahaha”

I give up. Anyone know where I can buy some horse dung?

Get a copy of Michael Turpin’s new book, “T-Rex By The Tail” at Elm Street Books and Zumbach’s Coffee. 

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