Nancy Roman

Winning The Game

You know how we translate age for dogs and cats? Like “Old Jasper is 82 in dog years…”  

Well, if there is not an age-equivalency term for electronic equipment, there should be. Maybe we could call it nano-years.  “This old phone?… It’s 107 in nano-years” – which in human chronological terms means: it’s three.

So on to the story…

My old phone was 347 in nano-years, and a few weeks ago, it sent me a text message saying, “That’s enough, lol” (my phone thinks it has a sense of humor) – and turned itself off. For good.

Now I get swindled all the time by salespeople, because my hereditary niceness makes me a poor negotiator. And also because I am an old lady, and old ladies get taken advantage of as a matter of normal business practice.

So my husband brought me to the phone store that gave him a very good deal, determined to get me a good deal too (which I did not have with old GrandpaPhone). 

The sales associate was a nice Hispanic woman. Right away, I was relieved. Those young conceited techno-geeks that usually work in these places always make me feel like I have to pretend to be knowledgeable or something. When down deep, I am sure that all this stuff inside my phone and television and computer is a bunch of magic sauce.

I didn’t have to pretend to understand what a gig or a ram or a cloud might be (although I am partial to the puffy clouds over the stringy ones). I could let my husband pretend. He may actually know, but I have no way of checking this out, which probably takes the pressure off of him too.

The nice saleswoman asked me what I wanted, and I said, “I want it to have a very good camera because my dog Theo is a Twitter celebrity.” Since my dog is more famous than me, I figured it didn’t hurt to name-drop.

“Okay,” she said, “what else?”

“Well,” I said, “my old phone was all filled up, so I would like one that is roomier.”

She didn’t laugh at me, like a techno-geek would have, although she may have stifled a chuckle. “Understood,” she said. She pointed to a phone. “This one.”

“Okay,” I said, using the sum total of my negotiating skills. 

So I have a new phone!

Since it’s much roomier than my old phone, I decided to add something I was never able to download on my old phone: a game.

I looked at a bunch of different gaming apps, and I chose one that looked interesting. It’s an interior design game. They give you a room, and you pick colors and textures and art to enhance the space. Other users vote on the best designs.

But there’s a problem (besides being a huge time-suck). I suck at this game.

I am becoming increasingly frustrated. My designs are beautiful – but no one else thinks so.

I am ready to delete the game.

However, just yesterday, I realized that this game is important. It’s a perfect metaphor for real life. 

It’s amazing, really.

First of all, there are no penalties for not playing by the rules. Because no one voting knows what the rules are. One particular competition may say, “One item should be pink.” But then the designs are shown to the voters with no explanation. No pink, no problem. In real life, people often win by ignoring the rules. 

Next, there’s an advantage to playing it safe. The winning designs are almost always beige. Or grey. Oh yes, better fit in, better blend in. Stand out too much and you’ll look weird.

Then there’s money. You have to buy the paint, curtains, upholstery, rugs, art, vases, and pillows. They give you a considerable amount of play money to buy your stuff. But – all the good stuff is locked, and you can’t get it unless you upgrade your status – with REAL money. I am not paying real money to win fake money. So I have to use the same boring materials over and over again. Just like in real life, rich folks have an insurmountable advantage.

But here is the critical life lesson: What am a willing to do to win?  

I can play the game to please myself. Choose the materials – however limited my selection – that excite me, and use them in ways that make me happy. And lose.

Or – I can study previous contests, determine what other people like, and design something that will please the voters. And win.

That’s pretty much what I have been doing my whole life. Subjugating my own desires to please others.  

Which is okay, I guess – I like that I am a very nice person.

But this is a game. Do I really have to tweak my personality for a phone game?


I think I will continue to be a loser who has fun.

my losing design


  1. I think that’s beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another lovely piece of writing! What a fun concept for “phone years.” (I think my phone is almost 200!) And love the way you describe your phone-shopping experience! (I am lucky enough that I don’t have to shop. I receive my daughter’s hand-me-downs!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Deb

    I think your room is very pretty! I’m so not a phone person. As long as I can call and text that’s really all I care about. Not long ago I had to call the help desk at work to fix an issue between my phone and the office laptop. The tech actually had the nerve to ask why I didn’t have a 5G phone. He didn’t say much more when I asked him if he was willing to pay for it so I didn’t have to call him for help anymore…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. KathyZ

    So interesting that I saw the photo before I read your story. Guess what? My immediate reaction was, “I love that room. I wish I had that sense of style.” I wanted to read your story to find out about it. Glad you’ve decided to ignore the judgers who are probably being paid to lure you into purchases. Also—I want that cell phone saleswoman.


  5. I love it too (“peach and aqua are natural complements”, said the artist), and the life metaphors are so apt! We are house-hunting, and on Zillow SOOO many houses are decorated in gray, beige and brown! SOOO much ugly overstuffed sectionals and recliners! And the dead animals on the walls! (This IS Texas, after all.) If we ever decide on one of those houses it will take a LOT of sage smudging and a ton of color to make it a happy house.


  6. sdereski

    It’s a lovely room!


  7. I had a laugh at the start of this and ended readingthinkingwhat a nice room.


  8. well, i think it’s pretty altho not colors i’d choose. march is my birthday month and it just so happens i’m getting a new cell phone too. (supposed to be delivered today but we had a hair appt.) i got two phone covers in anticipation and like neither. i’ve ordered another. mine is supposed to be roomy too. i just hope it turns on and off when i want–oh–and takes pictures i can use.


  9. If your design client were paying you, instead of the other way round, would you do what they wanted, even if you weren’t wild about the color palette, etc? Or would you come up with something you liked and hope they would too? It’s a conundrum – especially for creative people…


  10. Felicity

    I think it is a beautiful room. Very tasteful.
    (I do have an issue though with one point in your article. Specifically, paragraph 5. You are absolutely not an old lady.)


  11. Waiting in some of the long lines we negotiated last year prompted me to download my first (and only) game on my phone. It’s not like you could talk to anyone in line, they were too far away and had a mask on. A year later, it is now my addiction. I am on a team. In fact I am the leader of the team. Recently, I reached “Champion” status. I have not spent a cent of real money but unfortunately this thing actually keeps track of the amount of time you play. What was that term you used? “A huge time-suck”!


  12. I think your design is beautiful! I am glad you decided to stick to being yourself and having fun even if it means you don’t get the votes you need in the game. Too many go with the flow and try to please the crowd. It is nice to see some individuality and color in life as well as art. ^_^


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