An elderly woman with grey hair smiling and hugging me with the blanket on her lap. we both look very happy.

Lupe and Her New iPhone with Some Inspiration by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnolds in grey scale looking very stern and in his 60s with the title of the book across the bottom
Arnold’s Inspirational Book

I recently read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book “Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life”. It’s a great book in so many ways. One thing he really dislikes is how people say he’s a “self-made man”. He argues in the book about this by pointing out how many people helped him get to where he is today. It’s great fun to learn how he set his goal to be a bodybuilder in Austria before the sport really existed there, then to be an Olympian, then a movie star, then a comedic movie star, then the Governor of California, then to run the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.

But it was the very last section that struck me the most, and that was when he started working with the Special Olympics. He talks in this section about the best thing in life which is helping other people. The entire book is written very much in his voice and you can hear his passion for what he has gained by the experience of helping others.

I highly recommend the book, and this idea has so much relevance for the podcast and for my personal life. I get so much energy out of helping other people.

10 years ago, on the 500th anniversary of the NosillaCast I told you about a crazy power outage we had in our neighborhood. The one good thing about it was that we ended up meeting our delightful neighbor Lupe as a result. Steve helped her with her circuit breakers and we’ve been good friends ever since.

After I got to know Lupe, she asked me if I’d help her pick out a new iPhone. You know how much I love to spend other people’s money, so we went off to the Apple Store together and picked out a shiny new iPhone 7 for her.

Lupe is getting up there in years and unfortunately has macular degeneration which has seriously compromised her vision. She doesn’t get out much anymore so her iPhone is her lifeline more than ever. She suggested that she needed a new phone so I went over to visit her to figure out which iPhone to buy for her. My first thought was to see whether she needed VoiceOver yet, but she assured me that she could see well enough to do what she wanted to do. Email is no longer an option for her, but she could still call people, listen to messages, and read texts with a magnifying glass.

I suggested if she’s going to get a new phone, she might consider one of the big phones, such as a 14 or 15 Plus. The much bigger screen would make the very large text she needs fit more on the screen and be overall easier to read.

She asked to see my phone, which is the medium-sized iPhone 15 Pro. She compared it to her iPhone 7 and then tried to slip it into the pocket of her housecoat. It just barely fit. Then she tried to fit it in the little bandolier purse she throws around her neck when she’s moving about and again, it was sung but it did fit.

She declared that a bigger phone like the Plus was out of the question. I told her I’d sew a bigger pocket on her housecoat and buy her a new purse, but she pointed out she has three housecoats and decided that wouldn’t work.

At this point, I didn’t know what problem a new phone would solve for her if bigger wasn’t an option. Her iPhone 7 worked just fine and it fit in those pockets and purse. She didn’t need a faster phone, nor one with a better camera.

The next time I went to visit, she brought up the phone again and we had essentially the same conversation. I’m not against the idea of buying gadgets someone doesn’t need, but I couldn’t figure out what problem I was solving for her by recommending a new phone.

I did notice one problem I could solve. Lupe was really really cold. She said she has to keep the house cold because having the heat on dries out her eyes. Even I was cold in her house.

So rather than buying her a new iPhone, I crocheted an afghan for her. It was a labor of love and I chose a pattern of cream, gold and purple because purple is her favorite color. The pattern was a dream to crochet – super soft and a fun pattern. If you’re wondering, it was the Seaside Ripple Afghan from Mary Maxim.

An elderly woman with grey hair smiling and hugging me with the blanket on her lap. we both look very happy.
Lupe with Her New Afghan

Remembering what Arnold said, it’s helping others that give us the most fulfillment. I knew that every time she wrapped herself in the blanket, not only would she be warmer, she’d know I’d been thinking of her.

Just a few days after I brought her the blanket, she called me in distress because she was having battery problems on her iPhone. She said it was going from 100% to zero. I assumed it was a charging problem, so I dashed over with a new charger block, a fresh lightning cable, and a wooden toothpick to pick lint out of the connector port just in case that was the problem.

But I should have listened more closely to what she was saying. She was telling me that it would charge to 100% (so not a charging problem) but then be at 0% shortly thereafter.

Lupe's battery Settings showing the battery going from 100% to 4% in a straight line down
Lupe’s Battery Dropping Like a Stone

I put a screenshot of her Battery graph in the shownotes to illustrate what she was saying. I’ve never seen an iPhone battery graph like this before. It looks like an “L”. It shows the battery level going straight down from 100% to 4% and then hovering there for a few hours before tanking to zero.

Remember how I said I couldn’t figure out why to get her a new phone because her phone was working just fine? Not so much now.

Lupe and I went through the options on the Apple website to choose an iPhone 14 for her. I still couldn’t talk her into the plus-sized phone, and I didn’t think there was any reason to push an iPhone 15 on her. We debated the merits of AppleCare+ and even though she doesn’t leave the house all that much, she liked the idea of the version that gives you theft and loss protection. She told me to get her a screen protector so she’d be covered there as well.

When I was checking out her charging situation, I noticed that the very long cable she uses was frayed near the connector, so she asked for a new long charging cable as well. I found a nifty 3-meter braided USB-A to Lightning cable from Belkin for $30 that has a little rubber strap for coiling the cable. It also has a magnetic disk on that strap and a matching magnet with 3M sticky on the back so you can stick it to something so it doesn’t fall on the floor. She really liked that feature. At her age and with her vision, chasing down a dropped cable on the floor isn’t nearly as fun as it used to be.

We ran into a few challenges setting up her new iPhone the next day. She didn’t have enough storage space on iCloud to run a backup, and I didn’t have the login info available to clean it up to make room. We did the ad hoc network dance where the old phone scans the swirly graphic on the new phone and then they have a whole little conversation with each other to transfer all of her data.

In less than a half hour, all of her apps and data and wallpaper were there and the accessibility features for enlarged text and such were all set up on the new phone.

While this worked swimmingly, we ran into a big snag. The iPhone 7 has a physical SIM and the iPhone 14 has an eSIM. It’s really easy to move from a physical SIM to an eSIM (I’ve done it myself) but the process requires iOS 16 or higher on both phones. Her iPhone 7 was back on something like iOS 14. I had to make that dreaded call … to AT&T.

You’re going to be shocked to hear this, but I have nothing but good things to say about my call with AT&T. While there was a long wait time, they offered to call me back in 11-13 minutes, and they actually called right at 11 minutes. We were soon connected to Lala, and she simply could not have been more helpful.

Lala gave careful instructions, but not so slow that it drove me nuts. She had a cute way of telling me to look for things in Settings – she’d say, “Gently scroll down to the bottom … take your time, I’ll wait.” She said that “if we’re lucky today” she can help me move the phone number using the IMEI2 number. I laughed at how she said that, and said, “It’s funny how the more you know about technology, the more you realize it’s at least 20% witchcraft.” She laughed and said, “Don’t you know it!”

Once the phone number transferred I was ready to hang up but she insisted on testing a few more things. She told me to turn off WiFi and test making a phone call, sending a text message, and accessing the the Internet. Her thoroughness was awesome. I had a few other things to clean up on the phone and she stayed with me until everything was working properly. As I told her, I could not possibly have been happier with the tech support I got from Lala at AT&T.

Once we had her phone functional I decided to see if she’d be willing to give Face ID a try. I explained that her new phone doesn’t have a home button but Face ID should be able to unlock her phone even more quickly. I had been kind of dreading that change from Touch ID, but Lupe is smart and a quick learner and was delighted with how well Face ID worked. She’s patient with the fact that it doesn’t work all the time and doesn’t seem to mind typing in her passcode when from time to time.

She told me to tell her son how much she owed me for the phone and accessories, and I had to wonder what he would think of that information. “Hi, I just helped your elderly mother with something, can I have $1200?” Couldn’t have sounded any dodgier than if I’d asked for the money in Target gift cards, right? Luckily she explained to him it was the nice neighbor who crocheted her the afghan so he knew I was legit.

A little while after I left her, I got a phone call from her asking me how to delete a phone call. I wasn’t clear on what she meant so I trotted over and asked her to describe what she wanted to do in more detail. She explained that her son had called but then she didn’t know how to delete the call. It took me a while to figure out what she meant. She was talking about quitting the app. She used to do this by double-clicking the home button and then swiping up.

I didn’t bother explaining to her that she doesn’t need to quit apps, but instead taught her the gesture to swipe in an arc with her thumb from the bottom of the screen. She picked up the gesture pretty quickly. As I told her while I had her repeat the gesture quite a few times to get it into muscle memory, this was the gesture I had the most trouble adapting to after moving from Touch ID to Face ID.

We practiced it for four or five tries and by the time I left she had the hang of it. It’s such a delight to work with such smart people!

When it came time to put on the screen protector, I offered to do it for her, but I’d earlier mentioned that Steve was good at this kind of thing, so she insisted on him doing it for her.

The final step in the process of helping Lupe was to give her Pat Dengler’s phone number. You’ve heard me mention Pat a lot of times – she’s an Apple Certified Consultant and one of the most patient and gentle people I know. It’s not that I wanted to stop helping Lupe, but I’ll be out of town for a few days and I was afraid there might be something I forgot to set up for her, and I didn’t want her to have to wait for nearly a week to get sorted. I’d trust Pat with my own grandchildren (in fact I’ve done that) so I trust her to take good care of Lupe while I’m gone.

Lupe kept insisting that she must do something for me to “pay me back” and I told her all I want is for her to be my friend. As Arnold explained, helping people is one of the greatest joys in life. I may let her buy us lunch when we get back, but only because it would make her happier.

2 thoughts on “Lupe and Her New iPhone with Some Inspiration by Arnold Schwarzenegger

  1. GeorgeFromTulsa - April 3, 2024

    What a hearwarming tale. I feel happier for hearing it –

  2. geometry dash - May 21, 2024

    What a heartwarming story for sure! I am more content as a result of hearing that.

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