By WENDY HODGE
Verizon has sent me a notice. Apparently I am one of their “most valued” customers, and I can claim a bundle of rewards by simply clicking a button on my almost-paid-for Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. I have to laugh at this because at this very moment my cell phone is buried underneath a stack of books on my bedside table. Around two o’clock this morning, when I was having pleasant dreams of puppies and chocolate (two separate dreams), my phone screamed at me. Literally. Apparently I have an app on my phone that alerts me if there is severe weather. In Trinidad.
How on earth did this become a part of my life?
Not long ago, on a visit to the Verizon store to pay my bill, I asked a customer service representative if he could tell me why my phone’s battery was draining so quickly. He swiped a few times at my screen, opened a few tabs, and then made a face like you see when someone is looking at your freshly broken leg before you’ve made it to the ER or if you’ve accidentally tucked the back of your skirt into your underwear before leaving the restroom.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Well…” he paused as if unsure how to break the terrible news. “You’ve got soooo many apps running, ma’am.”
Feeling like he’d caught me in a public state of undress, I whispered, “Is that bad?”
“Well, it ain’t good,” he chuckled. I think he may even have rolled his eyes at me.
He led me to a table and invited me to take a seat. This was going to take a while.
His name was Monroe, and he was patient and kind and did not roll his eyes again after the initial slip in manners. One by one, we pulled up the apps on my phone and talked them through. It was my own personal app intervention, right there in the Tiger Town Verizon store.
First up was my Pacer app. This was supposed to be the tool that whipped me into shape by tracking my steps and proclaiming proudly how many calories I burned each and every day. At first I was so good checking in with the app and tracking my progress. It would sound a zen-like chime with each thousand steps taken. But the last few months have been spent behind a desk or on a couch, and so the last time I got any sound from my Pacer app at all it was a mournful chime with a text that read: “We’re worried about you. Are you okay?”
“Let’s delete that one,” I tell Monroe. And, just like that, it’s gone.
Same for the LetGo app which buzzed every time an item that even remotely resembled a recliner I viewed a picture of five years ago happened to go up for sale within a 500-mile radius. And the PlantSnap app that identifies pictures of plants if you’re unsure what’s blooming in your garden — the first ten are free, after that there’s an exorbitant charge per photo. It keeps whistling every day to remind me that I haven’t uploaded a photo in 800+ days.
Both apps are deleted and forgotten.
“You have 17 different Solitaire apps, Miss Wendy … 17. Do you really need those?” Monroe asks with one eyebrow raised.
“Well … no, I guess not,” I smile sheepishly. “Let’s delete all but one. The one with the cute farm animals and the dog that gives you extra coins when you pet him.”
Monroe obliges — 16 more apps gone.
Wayfair and Dosh are gone — never been used but have so much enjoyed the beeping and trilling sounds they both emit around 5:00 a.m. like clockwork.
“How about your Kindle app?” Monroe asks.
“Kindle! How did that get on there. I am a die-hard actual hand-held book person. For life,” I respond.
“Girl, me too,” Monroe says and reaches out to pat my arm. This feels more like coffee with a girlfriend than an intervention, I realize.
Thirty minutes later, we are both sitting with our legs crossed, laughing and talking about how wonderful it can be to find the man you’ve always known existed out there somewhere, my phone lying all but forgotten on the counter between us.
And then it blares at me — an actual squawking blare.
“That must be Hazel.”
“Hazel?” Monroe asks.
“That’s what we named her. She’s our Shark Robo Vacuum. Hazel must have lost one of her little sweeping arms. She always does that in the same spot in the kitchen.”
“Well, that’s an app worth keeping,” Monroe laughs and stretches as he stands.
“Miss Wendy, we’ve gotten rid of more than a hundred apps — some of which even I have no idea what they may be. Your phone should work much more efficiently now.”
I stand and pick up my Samsung. It feels lighter somehow, finally rid of all that excess nonsense.
Suddenly reluctant to break the gabfest atmosphere, I hesitate a moment.
Monroe reaches out to embrace me, and I return the hug — girlfriend to girlfriend.
“Thank you, Monroe,” I smile at him and turn to go.
“You stay out of trouble, Miss Wendy,” he answers and waves as I leave.
And so here I am, days later, wondering how we missed deleting this useless weather alert app that can’t seem to understand I live in Alabama and nowhere near Trinidad.
I reach under the stack of books and grab my phone. This calls for a visit to the Verizon store. I’ll call ahead and make sure Monroe is working today. Maybe I’ll even stop by and pick up lattes for two. If only I could find my Starbucks app …