Michele Bender photo

Michele Mikesic Bender

I believed retirement meant lounging on a rocker, reliving wild, youthful adventures, chuckling with treasured friends and keeping in touch via phone and Facebook.

My late galpal, Denise, sang at clubs and frequently kept dangerously late hours. 

Her policeman brother purchased a Tracfone to keep her safe.

I needed to be safe when I went to hear her sing, so that Christmas, she gifted me with my own tiny Tracfone.

I couldn’t open it. I realize that electronics, CDs, DVDs and other entertaining little gizmos attract shoplifters just as catnip lures tabbies. But six hours of prying, snipping and cursing, the weapons-grade impenetrable plastic shell was enough for me.

I took it to the hardware store where, in a back room, a skillful employee extracted it like a wisdom tooth.

I purchased my first cellphone at the mall. An LG Revere, it delighted me with features I could actually understand. 

Instead of a clanging vintage ring, music that I selected alerted me to incoming calls.

I texted folks, e-mailed others, checked the weather forecast and even took pictures. I entered heaven.

After six years, I returned to upgrade, but I insisted on the same brand. This time my LG Revere had model numbers, say ... 432. A technician programmed all my addresses, phone numbers, pictures and important info into “432” and showed me new features.

Ringback tones entertained friends calling me who listened to tunes I selected for them. 

A store clerk told me she loved hearing David Ruffin wail, “I know you wanna leave me, but I refuse to let you go ...” so much that she dusted off her old Temptations album the minute she arrived home.

The expanded memory allowed me to write columns from my hospital bed on two separate occasions.

Three years later, I stopped in a discount store for three items – sugar-free cough drops, paper plates and a box of white envelopes. I had my walker, and I took a shopping basket to tote my items.

The basket caught on a corner display of Swiffer mops, and went flying; 432 was in my jacket pocket, and when I bent down to retrieve my stuff, it slid across the linoleum. And something amazing happened.

A slew of shoppers were browsing that night, including many teens. A boy shrieked, “cellphone,” and a horde of kids descended on 432 like crows on roadkill.

A cashier chased them, but 432 was gone.

After I calmed down, I laughed. Disappointed crooks would discover they snatched a fossil fliptop with no current “apps,” no games – and Buddy Holly music.

When I got home, I found the original numberless Revere in a drawer with its charger. I recalled the booklet said to reactivate a phone, dial 611.

The 611 staff preformed miracles. They reprogrammed “No-Number Revere,” restoring all my info, and deactivated 432 before my bandits could start making calls to Hollywood or Switzerland.

Using their magic powers, they had no-numb running in 20 minutes, and my information was safe.

No-numb and I had been together awhile when he developed a taste for new plug-in chargers (two in three years) and those cute little square batteries with a limited life expectancy at $10 a life.

Online, I discovered a slightly larger fliptop with flashier little buttons for assorted functions. Alcatel (Al) dazzled me, as did the techs who transferred my info just as times before, and I happily took Al home.

He doesn’t work. I have been phoneless for nine days. I have 14 days to return him, and that will happen tomorrow.

So, readers, you’re saying “Where is she going with this?”

I dunno. Honest. I have no idea what’s gonna happen.

Check back Saturday, Dec 5.

Gobble, but do it sympathetically. Humbly pray for those who will be separated from family this year, and ask God to comfort those souls we have lost.

Above all, keep yourselves safe.

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and regular community columnist for The Tribune-Democrat.​ She can be reached at MsGeezerette@aol.com.

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