Our Throwaway Society

Manufacturers have multiple reasons for limiting repair options. One is to profit from shorter obsolescence cycles by making it almost as cheap to replace an older product as to have it repaired. “If you can’t repair stuff, you’re forced to participate in the throwaway market,” says Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Assn.

Source: How Apple and other manufacturers attack your right to repair their products – Los Angeles Times

As much as I love my Apple devices, this makes me angry considering I just shipped my mother’s phone back to her in New York instead of buying her the new phone the Apple Store employee suggested I do since she’s on my family data plan.

You see, two years ago, after finding out that my mother was paying over $200 for an outdated Android phone and a tablet with a data plan she never used (that another Verizon employee just signed her up for another year after she asked them to cancel it), my older brother and I signed her up as part of my family plan to cut down on her expenses. As a result, my mother inherited my iPhone 6Plus 64GB* while I inherited my brother’s 6Plus 124GB after he upgraded to the 7, then the X and now the XS.

Now before someone assumes that my iPhone was really old, I work from home which means my phone doesn’t get as much action if I worked outside. I use my laptop way more than anything while my iPhone and iPad are there for me to follow up on things after the laptop is turned off.

But because I’m the main holder of the family cellular account and my mother knows nothing about smartphones, I set it up for her first and then mailed it to her. Well, last month, she told me that her phone could no longer hold a charge and that every time she inserted the charger, it would not charge at all until finally, the phone died.

Unable to help her over the phone, I suggested she take it to the Apple store because maybe the phone just needed a new battery and they supposedly* have this new plan where they’d replace the battery for certain models for free until the end of the year.

So she did and they barely even looked at it and told her that everything was working fine and then they gave it back to her. Two days later, she told me that the phone refused to hold a charge at all and now it was dead again. My brother bought her a set of new cables and she said it worked for a day and then it stopped. So I suggested she take it back to the Apple Store and really have them look at it this time.

Well, they told her that too bad, the phone was dead and that she should just buy an iPhone 7 because it was “on sale for $500.”

“Did they even plug it in?”

“I don’t know. They just said I should just upgrade to the iPhone 7. So can I get a new phone so I won’t have any more problems?”

I told her I’d think about it but in the meantime, I asked her to mail the iPhone 6plus back to me so I could “trade it in for a new one.”

Well, as soon as I got it and charged it (yes, it held the charge just fine), I figured out what was wrong right away.

IMG_7460Turns out, I didn’t turn off the option to automatically download apps and music to the device. So all the apps I was buying for my device or my son’s were being automatically downloaded to her phone until it became too slow, something the people at the Apple Store couldn’t be bothered to figure out because they’d rather sell my mother a new phone.

“How come the Apple Store people didn’t figure that out the two times I brought it there?” she asked me yesterday when I told her that her phone was in perfect working order. “You mean to tell me that you know more about phones than they do?”

“No, Mom, I don’t know more about phones than they do but their job is to sell you a brand new phone, not lift a finger to even look at what’s wrong with your phone,” I replied. “That’s why you’ve told me four times now that the iPhone 7 is on sale for $500.”

I could go on and on about this whole thing but I guess this is the wave of the future. We’ve become a throwaway society, where nothing gets fixed or upgraded anymore because companies like Apple would rather you throw away your “broken” device and a new one. Or they make it next to impossible to have your existing device repairable.

I’m sure if my mother was still in charge of her phone plan, she’d have whipped out her credit card and gotten herself that iPhone 7 and still not know how to work the damn thing because that wasn’t the problem, to begin with. It’s just sad and laughable that to fix her phone, she had to ship it across the country to me and after a few presses of a button, I fixed it and sent it back to her.

*I really don’t believe they have this plan, tbh, and if they do, it’s begrudgingly with the hope that they can talk the customers to upgrading to the latest phone instead like they did to my mother.

 

 

Seeing Red

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So my son’s behavioral aide is changing this year and the new agency taking care of that touched base with me the other day because the school IBI supervisor hasn’t bothered to, just like she didn’t bother to let me know about the change until the new people showed up at the school during the last week of school ready to start the transition. Yep, last week of school. Even his long-time aide cried because it was so sudden.

When the supervisor finally did call me, it was only to say the agency shouldn’t have contacted me because she was going to talk to me tomorrow:

  • While my kid was already going to be with the new behavioral aide whom I wouldn’t be able to meet beforehand
  • In a new classroom with a new teacher
  • And after being bussed along with the same students who bullied him last year without an aide present to the new building across town because the current school is being renovated.

To her, it’s no big deal.

To me, I’m so pissed I’m seeing red. She didn’t even leave a number for me to call her back today so I sent her an email saying from here on everything has to be in writing.

Like it says in the damn IEP.

This year, I’m done being that “nice easygoing mom.”

I’m going to be that awful mom teachers and supervisors will hate. I used to wonder about that with other parents getting the bad rap, but now I TOTALLY GET IT.

Because no one will ever fight for your kid like you ever will.

No. One.

ETA: Why do I write about regular life when I’m supposed to be an author? Shouldn’t I protect my brand? 

I used to worry about my brand all the time. I still do. I’ve taken Instagram courses that tell you to color coordinate your posts so your profile looks pleasing to the eye, to create stories every day and show your personal life so that readers can “connect” with you, to schedule everything and be brand appropriate, to smile smile smile smile smile and blah blah blah blah blah.

Well, my life isn’t color coordinated by a long shot, and my personal life is a mess in case you want to know. And the reason I write is because I need an outlet for all the rage I feel inside and to allow all my silly romantic and sexual stories out of my head. It’s a delicate balance—rage and romance and sex. But on paper, I’m able to strike that balance. I’m able to write out the demons and unleash all the passion I can’t unleash in real life because I’ve got so many things to do between laundry, homework, lunch, pick up and drop offs, and legal papers to fill out and making sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed in the Lil Dude’s IEP.

This is the life of this particular author, no color coordinated posts, no big smiles for the camera while I tell you to buy my next book, no dragging my Lil Dude in front of the phone so readers can “connect” with me. I write stories. That’s what I do. That’s all I want to do. But sometimes, I write about the real life that I know better than anything else… the ugly, the sad, and the frustrating parts of it.

The Unthinkable

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Yesterday, the unthinkable happened.

The Lil Dude and I were on our way to see his new case manager and three blocks from the house, I looked at him from the rear view mirror and said, “oh no, Mommy forgot her phone!”

To which Lil Dude said, “oh no! We need to go back home and get it!”

But I said, “Ah, we’ll survive without it. So here’s the plan: we’ll go to the meeting, then to the store to buy you a new pair of shoes and then head straight home because we don’t have a phone.”

He agreed.

At the meeting, all my information was on my phone, of course, and I couldn’t even remember who I was meeting with. But we got that sorted out and I did have his IEP with me so that was sorted out, too. When she said something about an insurance denial letter not on file, I told her that yes, I did bring it in to the previous case manager but couldn’t tell her the date because that was on my phone. She asked if I brought a photograph of the Lil Dude and of course, there was no picture because that was on my phone, too.

One thing I also learned: Having a kid spinning around in an office chair at the periphery of your vision can still leave me feeling seasick until evening.

So then we had a late lunch because I just about passed out at the meeting from hunger (I totally need a visual schedule now, too) and while we’re eating, the Lil Dude enjoying his pancake with whipped cream topping and scrambled eggs and me with my Three Cheese Chicken Quesadilla, I realized that there was nothing to distract me from just being with the kid. No text notifications, no Messenger PMs… nothing. It was just him and me.

Then we headed to the store to shop for his shoes for school, which we did, and he also found a backpack “with bonuses!” he declared because what he picked out came with a lunch pail and a water bottle. Then it was home where I found all the notifications waiting for me on my phone.

None of them were important enough to take my attention from time spent with Lil Dude. And it made me realize just how much time is stolen by our addiction to our phones and social media. What is so important that we’d rather check our phone while we’re eating at the table or sitting next to them? But we do. I know I did, and yesterday, it hit me that there have been so many things I missed about my not-so-little-boy.

And for what?

To check on my day’s sales? To answer a PM? To check and see what latest gossip there is on the Chris Watts murder case? (Yes, unfortunately, I’m hooked on that case and have told myself to wait until November when he appears in court again instead of reading every conspiracy theory out there.)

Thing is, those things will still be there later. But those little moments—like my son licking the top of the pancake (where the whipped cream topping used to be) when he thought I wasn’t looking or how proud he felt for finding a “bargain” with his backpacks plus bonuses or how well-behaved he was while standing in the checkout line?

Like that commercial says, priceless.

On Board the USS Iowa #Momlife

Today the Lil Dude and I spent the day at the Battleship USS Iowa. He had a Lego class in the morning and I got to write a little bit on my phone while he assembled the morning’s project which had to do with gears. In the afternoon, a young man named Gil took the kids on a tour of the deck after we had lunch at the Mess Hall. They learned how pulleys work—and I did, too.

After the class was dismissed for the day, the Lil Dude wanted to check out the gift shop which meant we had to start from the beginning. I had to turn in my annual family pass anyway and so we started the tour officially from the beginning. I like how they have a “Find Vicky” kind of game. Vicky (short for Victory) was the captain’s dog and apprentice mascot for the ship in the 1940’s and her photo is posted in various parts of the self-guided tour and kids would match the number to the location on the ship. To find all ten instances of Vicky meant climbing a lot of steep ladder/stairs and at first, the Lil Dude was afraid of them, but once he got the hang of it, he was fine.

One of the things that struck me about the museum is that it’s not funded by the city, state or the federal government. Battleship USS Iowa is fully funded by admissions, memberships, and donations. Everywhere you look, there are (Navy) veteran volunteers who are more than happy to give you a personalized tour of the ship and whenever a military veteran or active duty military personnel visits, his/her arrival is announced on the loudspeakers complete with branch and years served or if active.

In 80 degree heat, I have to admit we’re both sunburnt and by 9, Lil Dude was cranky and went to bed without any additional prompting. Now I’m trying to write but I think my brain is pretty fried, too. I’ll probably end up writing on my iPad in bed until it smacks me in the face.

And I must really love romance because guess what my favorite feature about the ship is?

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Yup. You know me too well…