She knew what she wanted.
She just felt going to a Verizon store would help confirm all her research and all her intentions.
My wife, you see, has clung on to her Samsung Galaxy S7 longer than I've clung on to the idea that humanity needs civility for its survival.
Recently, though, she'd come to realize that her S7 would need a dignified burial. She'd done her research.
Her intestines and sense of frugality told her it may be time to switch to Apple.
Well, her intestines were a touch upset at the idea. Apple, to her, represents the devil's work. But then she saw the iPhone SE 2020 and felt it could be for her. Unless, that is, she went for a Galaxy S10e.
I admit I'd slipped the idea of the SE into her consciousness. But she did her own research online, rejected phone after phone on the Verizon website, and concluded she still needed to see her chosen ones live, in a Verizon store.
She made an appointment and I put on my mask so that no one at Verizon could see my facial expressions.
You Want An iPhone SE? Well, Ta-Da!
We were greeted outside by a burly guard who explained we were four minutes early. They value efficiency -- and safety -- at this Verizon store.
Once allowed into the sanctum, we were met by a salesman of some years and polish. To prepare for us, he put on his gloves like a proctologist. Or a vet.
This wasn't going to hurt at all.
"I need to upgrade my Galaxy S7 and I'm interested in the new little iPhone," my wife began.
The salesman's expression betrayed nothing but helpfulness. He cheerily walked her over to the Apple part of the store and showed her the phone. She was even allowed to pick it up.
She was happy with its size, but still worried about the big switch from Samsung to Apple.
"A few things will be new, but not many," said the salesman. "If you go from iPhone to Samsung, it's not too different. Samsung got sued so many times for copying Apple that going from your S7 to this SE won't be too difficult. If you got the Google phone over there [he pointed], now that's pure Android. That would be a lot harder."
And then he added innocently: "Many people still don't do it. Or won't."
I could feel my wife wavering a little. Was she doing the right thing? Was this a betrayal of her principles? Would people make elitist jokes at her expense?
The salesman remained calm. He said: "It doesn't matter to me which phone you buy. The LGs over there, the Motorolas. Or even those flip phones."
Oddly, he didn't offer to demonstrate any of these phones. Instead, he oozed serenity, as if he knew the next question.
My wife asked: "So what's the Android equivalent of this cheap Apple phone?"
Yes, We Have Samsungs Too. Expensive Ones.
We mosied over to the Samsung side -- a literal divide at this store.
"When your phone came out," began the salesman, "it was a premium phone. So the equivalent is this one. Everything is better because the technology is five years newer. The screen's better. And it's got 5G."
Was he talking about the S10e that my wife had placed on her shortlist? Not at all. He was waxing poetically about the Galaxy S20.
"5G," said my wife. "What does that mean?"
"Well, right now in this county, it means nothing. But when all the towers have been switched over it'll mean everything works faster."
"But this S20 is more expensive than the SE," countered my wife. "What's the actual Samsung equivalent of that SE?"
The salesman needed to look at his iPad.
He answered: "It's the 10e, which means economy, but we don't have that on display. What we have here is the A51. That's cheaper and it's got some of the modern technology, but not as much as the S20."
My wife picked up the A51. "It's too big for my hands," she concluded.
I could see her eyes going back to the forbidden fruit. Did I mention I'd written a whole column about why my wife would never, ever buy the S20?
"But this S20 isn't much bigger than my S7 and it does look good," my wife now said.
Suddenly, We Weren't Counting The Cost.
"So what's the Apple equivalent of this S20?" she asked.
We sauntered back to the blue corner.
"We don't have it on display right now, because too many people kept touching it," the salesman began.
He pointed to a picture and said: "But it's that one. The 11 Pro."
We were now on the brink. My wife wasn't really interested in the 11 Pro. Her head had been turned like Linda Blair's in The Exorcist. Well, metaphorically.
She asked the salesman to compare the S20 with the iPhone SE 2020. The salesman had 20-20 vision on this one.
"Well, the S20 reacts really quick," he said. "This Apple one reacts quiiiiickkkkkish."
It was like watching a Redwood fall in slow motion. The salesman's eyes had a tiny shine. "Don't get me wrong," he said. "They're still both faster than your S7."
"So what's the price difference between the S20 and the little iPhone?" asked my wife.
"I've just looked at your account and there's an offer on the S20. It's $200 off," said the salesman.
Of course there was.
One more question, one more calculation, and the price difference was revealed as $10 a month.
For the next, oh, who knows how many years? It didn't matter. My wife was sold. The salesman had played it patiently and simply encountering the S20, holding it, staring at it had made my wife change her mind.
The (After)math Adds Up.
I've written once or twice about the irrationality of human beings.
I've also written about the dangers of phone companies -- and Microsoft -- trying to sell all their wares online.
Watching my wife -- whose normal interest in technology lies in getting annoyed when it doesn't work -- be seduced by a shiny, modern phone shows the value of the physical experience.
"My phone is not what determines my happiness," said my wife when I asked her whether she loves her new phone. (Did I mention she's a scientist?)
"What I'm using this for more than I did with the other is the health stuff," she explained, rationally. "The S7 probably had the health functions, too, but having a new phone makes me want to use more bits of it."
There are downsides. "The length of it I'm still getting used to, but I like how light it is and narrow."
The narrowness is what makes it more comfortable, she says.
"So is it worth 10 bucks a month more over two years?"
"Wait, but that's only 240 bucks. Your S20 was at least 800 bucks and the SE's only 400. Where did the other 160 go?