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Control-alt-delete my mind

by Debbie Carini

The other day, I stood at the deli counter trying to explain to the hair-netted, beard-netted man in the white coat that I had an electronic coupon for the eight-piece fried chicken special, but I wasn’t sure if it was for the “fire-coated” or the “baked” or the “extra crunchy.” Holy Colonel Sanders, when did this get so complicated?

The counterman—who looked a lot like Vincent Price if he had to wear FDA-required hair restraints while trying to recreate “The Fly” experiment—said to me, “Did you print out the list from the store website? Because I’m not sure what you’re asking me.”

And I was like, no…that list is so long because I click on almost all the deals. I’m never sure if I’m going to be in the mood for sweet pickles or liverwurst or strawberry soda (and yes, I would ingest anyone of those things). So, then he asked me if I could bring it up on my phone.

I probably looked at him like I would look at a flight attendant screaming, “Can anyone fly this plane?!”

Because, even though I have a smartphone, I have limited ability to use it. I have officially passed into becoming that annoying person who hits the enter button too many times when something doesn’t work, who literally wrote down the directions for starting the keyless ignition on my car, who calls a computer key…a button!

I only use the online club card tool because it helps me to earn gas rewards with the grocery store’s affiliated gas stations. My mom does this, too, and now we have a bizarre competition where one or the other of us is always stating ridiculous figures like, “I only paid a $1.87 a gallon for gas today!!” The small victories of suburbia.

And so there I stood, the luddite I am, forced to try to bring up the store list on my phone because my husband wanted that fried chicken for lunch. And I’m not going to lie, the warm, greasy aroma emanating from the display case almost had me salivating. 

My fingers suddenly felt like 10 hot dogs, unable to bend or click anything on the phone’s display. It was as if the gods were getting even with me for always making fun of my mom and her flip phone (and also for the way she manages to make any image, usually a cat video, disappear from my phone every time I hand it to her. “I didn’t touch anything,” she’ll plead, as I’m trying—again!—to find “Cat eats from chopsticks” or “The noisy drinking cat.”

But I persisted, and I won—ha, I pushed my phone across the counter—eight pieces of fried chicken for $5.99 with my club card!

Now I just have to figure out how to enter that on my dieting app. Maybe I’ll wait until my fingers aren’t quite so slippery.

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