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2009-06-12 16:48:57

Dad’s Jitterbug


Dad is 94 and very sure-footed. After all he was a champion halfback soccer player. But, we are not talking about his jitterbug dancing skills. This is about his entry into the world of technology by buying a Jitterbug phone.
Each day Dad showers, shaves, dresses up and drives his Buick downtown to meet his buddies for lunch. His “gang” is the younger crowd (70’s) and some have learned to use computers for email and to check stock portfolios. Most of them have cell phones. Dad had to have one. But he has been concerned about taking this step into advanced technology. After all, his friend, Moe, had to return his phone because he found it too confusing.
Jitterbug has two versions of phones. One has only 3 “big” buttons – 911, My Choice, and Operator. However, he wanted the control of the full keypad version. So we bought the phone, which I took home to program (put in the contact names and numbers) on my Mac. We then scheduled some time to get together for a lesson.
I had programmed the first screen for Voice Dial, thinking that he could just speak into the phone with the name of the person he was trying to reach. For those of you not familiar with the Jitterbug, the screen displays questions and has simple “yes” or “no” buttons for responding. So the first screen displays “Voice Dial?” and I tell Dad to press the yes button. Now everything else should work by voice command instead of buttons. A computer voice says “state name.” Dad is very polite and respectful. He says, “I’m sorry but I did not understand. Please repeat the question.” The computer says, “I did not understand your answer. State name.” When he repeats that he doesn’t understand, the computer says “good bye.”
Now I explain that he should say only the exact name on his phone list. So we flip the phone open, he pushes “yes” to the “Voice Dial ?” question (we are making progress); and, the computer voice says “state name.” He says “Rick Home.” The computer voice says, “Did you say Rick Home?” and he says “Please call R-I-C-K” to which the computer says, “I did not understand your answer”.
Since our learning session, I have called him on his phone several times and left voicemail messages. No response. When I see him I ask why he is not answering his phone, to which he responds that he leaves it in the car so that it doesn’t bother anyone with the ring. I suggest that then he should check his voicemail for messages. He says that whoever it is will call back.
We are still within the 30-day return period.
Carmen and Lloyd Multhauf are the founding developers of the Generational Housing Specialist™Council, a national real estate designation that focuses on the unique impacts made by different generations in establishing housing trends, financial products, negotiating skills and reaching a successful closing. To find out more about Geneational Housing courses, go to

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