My brief, abortive foray into iphone land.

This article has nothing to do with grocery stores. I never promised to write only about grocery stores.  It is about technology, consuming, learning new things, courage.  Read it if you like – it’s kind of interesting.
I was one of the first adopters of androids. Something like seven years ago, I bought (actually my friends Tom and Vicki bought for me …amazing friends) the first android – the Motorola Droid, which a Time cover story dubbed “the iphone killer”. Thus began one of the most neurotic dances of a fairly neurotic consumer.
Even while something in me told me that the Android system – or “Google phone” – was a good way to go, I always remained snowed by the Apple mystique. “Iphones are more intuitive.” “Artists use Apples.” No matter how relatively satisfied I was with that phone and a couple of successive androids – and it always was a relative thing – something in me always believed that I would be happier with an iphone, that I should jump out of my security in my androids and make the change.
Then there was my daughter-in-law, who said, “If you’re comfortable with your android, stay there – iphone is going to be a whole new system, too hard to learn. It’s not worth it.” Her words had a ring of truth – they certainly spoke to my insecurities.  But what about courage?  Going boldly into uncharted territory?  Art?  All these also had a pull on me.

I tried the almost-newest iphone 8 (there’s the brand new and very expensive iphone 10) and now a cutting-edge android, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force.

So a week ago I made the jump.  My Verizon two-year contract was up, so I could get a good deal on a new phone.  And – maybe more important – could leave Verizon, which I have come to regard as an evil corporation.  And my friend Bob Lantis convinced me that T-Mobile had better rates – and just as strong a signal as Verizon.  (One of the factors keeping me with Verizon was the local maxim that “In these mountains, Verizon is the only game in town for signal strength.”)

It maybe should have given me a signal that Jason (the champ) and Melissa (also nice) at the T-Mobile store were both android users and at several points shrugged their shoulders and admitted that they just didn’t know some stuff about iphones.  And Melissa, who came in halfway through the sale, at one point asked Jason, “Why are you putting him in an iphone?”  “Because that’s what he wants.”

So now, after eight days of iphone use, here are my take-aways:
– I don’t know if the iphone is better or more intuitive, because I stuck with my Google apps (contacts, calendar, gmail, chrome browser),
– the iphone ways of handling these familiar apps continually frustrated me – “Where’s this?”  “How do you do this?”
– I want my android back.  In fact, I have now gotten it back.  Today I went to T-Mobile and got the spiffiest new Motorola android.  I already like it a lot.  Jason took great care of me – not only very customer-oriented, but very technically savvy.  And he knows and likes Androids.  The phone he sold me is the one he uses.
– T-Mobile and Verizon both charge you a $50 “re-stocking fee” for returning a phone, because they can no longer sell it as new.  My new phone cost $20 more downpayment than the iphone did, but costs $10 less per month – that’s $120 a year.  (I know you knew that, but I felt a defensive need to emphasize it.)  Bob put me on his plan, so my monthly rate is half what it would otherwise be – and way less than I was paying at Verizon.

I honestly think that I will never again wish I had an iphone or think that I’m missing out on something. It was worth the $50 to get unhypnotized.

Affirmation and flirting

The woman checking me in at my primary doctor’s office was maybe slightly thrown off her game by my flirting, but I think that even more she liked it.

I told her I liked her glasses a lot, which was true.  “They have a different shape – it’s cool.”  I didn’t say they made her look like Catwoman, which also was true.

But even more, I played with her about her age.
“Have you been wearing glasses for a long time?”
“About 30 years.”
“Since you were 5.”
“Not quite.”
She smiled slyly – I knew she liked it.

WhadoIknow?  When I tease with women (and yes, often – though not as often – men) about their age, it’s usually kind of sincere.  I’m terrible at estimating ages.  This woman could easily have been 35 for all I knew.  I scoped her out again on my way out of the office later and I still didn’t have a clue.

But if I’m going to err on age with women (and sometimes men), I’m going to err on the side of calling them young.  At my grocery store, when a woman tells me she qualifies for the senior discount – if I genuinely think she looks too young, or like she might possibly be too young – I’m liable to say:
“No you don’t.”
“Not ’til you’re 60.”
“You must think I’m easy.”

If they ask if I want to see their driver’s license, I always say “Yes” – and they almost always seem to enjoy this little exercise.  You know they’re going to tell their friends that they got carded for their senior discount.

What’s the relationship between flirting and affirmation?  Flirting is playing and playing with someone is validating.  It’s a way of saying “I like you.”  Flirting is also a way of saying “I think you’re attractive.”  To indicate to a woman that you think they are attractive is not oppressive.

An exception is with drop-dead gorgeous women.  These women are more likely to have been oppressed around their looks – hit on, treated like an object, not recognized for their intelligence and competence.  They probably also already know they are attractive, so there’s no empty place to be filled here. With these women, I am more inclined to affirm them for their intelligence or competence, for their parenting or for their good taste in groceries.

If I can’t pull up those kinds of affirmations, I’m liable just to be all business.   This makes me feel a little sad – it feels like a loss, a loss of a chance to play – but it seems better than to appreciate any aspect of their appearance, even their glasses…or God forbid to look at them just a little too long.

Making flirting an affirmation is tricky – it’s an art form.  I don’t recommend it to people with clumsy interpersonal skills.  Doing it is an affirmation of my own intelligence.  And an affirmation of my connection with you.  It says that I know how to play – and I want to play with you.

“What makes you so interesting?”

The woman customer in front of me was maybe ten years younger than my 71, very attractive – and, for reasons I cannot really recapture, was immediately amazingly interesting.  I asked her, “Are you really tremendously alive?”  She got a little momentarily unglued – maybe a bit embarrassed by the strength of the compliment – but then quickly found her moorings and said, “Yes, I would say that I am tremendously alive.”

I found this so totally attractive that it took my breath away.  “She knows she is tremendously alive and is not afraid to claim it!  Amazing!”

Then I went to my most reliable provocative question for customers, “What’s been a highlight of your day?” – and for some reason I don’t remember her answer.  But then she asked me the question back – I knew she would – and I do remember my answer.  “My highlight has been this exchange with you – I just feel totally energized by it.”  I wanted to put everything I could behind this flirting.  I really wanted to be bold and ask for her phone number, but that felt like too much and maybe actually was too much.  I could have given her my card,  but couldn’t get myself to do it.  I just relied on lots of smiles and eye contact and a hope that sometime she would find her way back into my grocery line.  I really did trust that this encounter had power for her too.

And then she was gone.  I spent the next couple of customers trying to integrate what had just gone on.  Those customers probably didn’t get the best service from me, but sometimes it’s just like that.  The third customer, a couple about my age, I asked my “highlight” question.  They gave uninteresting answers and then failed to ask me the question back, so I basically asked it to myself:: “Would you mind if I vent a little about a customer before you?”  I sensed their mild alarm and reassured them, “It’s not a bad vent – it’s a good vent, just something I need to chew on.”  They ok’d the plan, but not enthusiastically.  So I told them about what an impression this woman had made on me, and how I was still rattled from it.  They thanked me for sharing and went back to talking with each other about their plans for the afternoon.  

But the good had been done – I had more integrated my experience with the “Alive” woman.  I want to call her Susie, even though that’s a pretty vanilla name. Maybe it’s really her name. While I was talking with this couple, I kept noticing that the woman right after them – a very attractive 40 year old – was nodding and smiling, seeming very connected with the whole story.  When the couple left and she moved directly in front of me, even though she had just a few items and there was a line behind her – restless because I had had a long conversation with the previous customers – I was struck by her big-time emotional availability and wanted to engage her, even if briefly.

“I was telling that couple about a customer before them who was tremendously interesting.  You are obviously very interesting.  What would you say is really interesting about you?” Now that’s asking a lot of someone in the supermarket checkout, given 90 seconds to respond.  But she fussed in embarrassment for just moments before she really leaned into her answer.  She lit up: “I’m learning how to smile with my eyes – it goes all the way back into my head.”  When she finished, she looked totally pleased with herself.  I gave her a big, “Wow, that’s awesome” and she was gone.  I hope she comes back through my line again, too.  

I took the next couple of customers to integrate that exchange – not even offering my “highlights” question, much less the blatantly intrusive “What’s especially interesting about you?”

The third woman had just a few items and I was inclined to let go of any attempt to engage.  But right at the end of her transaction, for some reason I couldn’t restrain myself.  “Don’t be a wimp.  This question has surfaced some amazing stuff.  Go for it.”  I asked her, “What’s especially interesting about you?”

“What’s interesting about me is that I’m really hungry and really in a hurry.”  And you know, it was just fine.  I thanked her for being so honest and focused all my attention on finishing her transaction.  

Trying to engage in these deeper exchanges in the checkout line is a crapshoot: sometimes it works and sometimes not.  Sometimes my intuition about where to offer deeper engagement seems right on the money, sometimes not.  But the game is totally worth it – otherwise you’re just swiping groceries.