Saturday, July 20, 2013

Weighing Options

My daughters would tell you that if I've told them once, I've told them a thousand times, "It's always good to have options." Yet there I was in my last post complaining about the difficulty in choosing between options. Maybe it's time to amend the advice I've dished out so often: "It's always good to have options--but not too many of them--and all options are not equal."

When my cell phone abruptly stopped sending or receiving text messages last week, I knew it was time to get a new one. But which one? Almost everyone I know has a smart phone, and I'm quite impressed with that technology, but so far I haven't wanted to pay an extra $30 a month for Internet service on a cell phone. I've often considered it, though.

If I would disconnect my landline, I could afford that extra $30 cell phone fee. All my out-of-town relatives know the landline number, though, not the cell number, and I don't want to miss any of their calls. On the other hand, I get many more automated sales calls than calls from real people who are important to me. It's also a fact that cell phones aren't yet as effective as landlines for 911 emergency calls, and I know that each passing year increases the likelihood that I'll need to make an emergency call someday. For now, at least, I feel safer with the landline.

That day Kim and I got lost on our way to the zoo, the GPS on her smart phone came in really handy. I'd like to have one of those. But do I need it? I know how to get to multiple Walmarts, post offices, libraries, and bank branches. I know the way to the regular vet and the emergency vet, the family doctor and the cardiologist's office. It's rare that I go anywhere unfamiliar, and when I do, I get on the Internet ahead of time and print out a map and directions. If I'm going to travel any significant distance, there's almost always someone with me -- usually someone who has a smart phone.

I've had these smart-phone-or-not arguments with myself numerous times, and I would have sworn that my decision not to get one was settled until something happened earlier this week to raise the question again. The day after my cell phone broke, I signed up for a new auto insurance policy, which turned out to be $400 a year cheaper than the old policy. Do you see where I'm going here? All of a sudden I could afford to pay that $30 monthly cell phone service fee without changing my budget.

Here came all those pesky options again.

I was sorely tempted to upgrade to a smart phone. GPS? Internet? Email by phone? APPs? I love all those things. But, you know what? I don't need them. I need to make and receive calls, and I use texting a lot more than I ever thought I would. There may be a time when I'll need to use my cell phone to take a picture, though that hasn't happened yet.

In the end, I picked out a phone that does the things I need it to do and not too much else. The one I chose comes only in red, which is a little conspicuous for my taste, but I can live with it. And I can live more easily with myself, knowing I didn't give in to temptation just because it suddenly became an affordable option.


It's time for another Saturday Song Selection, and this week I've picked a 1972 song about a young man who's desperately trying to speak to the girl he loves one last time before she marries someone else and moves away. Unfortunately, the girl's mother refuses to call her to the telephone. It's a good song but a sad story. When I began searching through the various music video of this song, I had to laugh at the truth of one person's comment: "It's too bad they didn't have texting back then." That commenter was absolutely right: a text in time might have changed everything. (See, that's why I need texting.)

The song is "Sylvia's Mother" by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show.
Thanks to Steverrz for posting the song and its lyrics on YouTube.


  1. I wish you had posted BEFORE settling on a phone... I have all those fancy options... for about $200 a year!

    I bought my iphone outright...pricey but it freed me up to shop around. I have T-mobile pay as you internet. If I need it, I can add it for $3 a day...which I sometimes do when I'm traveling in a weird place. But, so many places have free wifi, hospitals, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc, if I'm really stuck and need directions, I can run into one of those and look up what I need to know!

    1. Thanks, Holly, but I like to think I'd have made the same decision even if you'd turned me on to a bargain. The challenge is not to buy goods or services I don't need. Where you live, you probably need all those "fancy options." But you know where I live. How lost can I get? Also, the phone I bought was an upgrade, and by extending the present contract, it cost me only one cent.

  2. Cool on the one cent phone! Yeah, I DON'T need those fancy options but the iphone is one of the best cameras I've ever owned! I was sold on it when I saw the photos a nephew took at the niece's wedding last year! And I like that my pictures automatically migrate to my ipad (where I can actually SEE them and delete the bad ones) and to my computer (where I can crop and make them pretty before posting!)


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