I didnt get a cell phone for Christmas, and now I kinda wish I had, after mine finally bit the dust last week.
The text messaging and email went down in October, around the time of this particular providers merger with another provider (I couldand havenamed names, but really, whats the point, when theyre all the spawn of the devil?).
I was able to send out a few words at a timebut it was pretty arbitraryand the provider seemed to have installed some sort of (I think the technical word is....) gremlin in the keypad, so that they, or possibly John Ashcroft, decided which words went through and which ones didnt. I could never tell. But my coworkers definitely seemed confused most of the time when Id follow up, and sometimes vaguely alarmed (so I think its entirely possible they were getting really inappropriate VERSIONS of whatever I was asking them to do).
I put up with that for awhile.
I started making daily calls to Customer Service in October (while conveniently on hold I learned all the words for everything from Do You Know the Way to San José? to Time 4 Sum Aksion, Wootay, Twerk Sumtin, and eventually Run, Run Rudolph.) Dionne Warwick. Neil Diamond. Then Master P. Soulja Slim. Silkk the Shocker. They seemed to get a little hipper post-merger
until Toby Keiths Very Special Christmas.
I think the time frame makes it clear that everyone involved in this merger makes a cruel mockery of the words customer and service, but thats probably why Ill never be a Fortune 500 CEO (that, and the fact that 30 percent of them are over 62
which I find wildly attractive and it makes me want to date one except that I expect 85 percent of them are married to 23-year-old pop tarts).
I just started leaving a LOT of voicemails for my coworkers....Until they all threatened to quit. I finally got the message the day I walked in and they were all standing on top of their desks in sweat-soaked t-shirts with the word U.N.I.O.N. crudely Sharpied onto pieces of driftwood theyd assembled from ripping up the bookshelves in my office. (Actually, theyre all too young to have seen Norma Rae
and truth be told, theyre not ones to whine. They didnt even complain MUCH when I put black plastic on all the windows and installed timers on the light switches, thinking, Hey, if it increases production in poultry....)
I had to give up voicemail anyway, because starting a week or so ago, I learned that while I could HEAR all incoming calls, no one on the other end could hear me (which, honestly, everyone who knows me actually preferred).
At the beginning, it was incredibly annoying and frustrating. I would call (or answer) and start talkingbut I found out later, all they were getting was my number on the Caller ID and then a series of clicks and static. This really freaked out everyone whod gone with me to see White Noise (which is honestly NOT that scary....until your DVD spontaneously wakes you up at 3am, playing Somethings Gotta Give with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, especially if you dont even have that DVD). And I think EVERYONE whod seen Charlie Sheens 1996 classic, The Arrival, was justifiably disconcerted. (In it, he plays radio astronomer Zane Ziminsky and works for someplace like SETI, before he gets fired by Ron Silver who turns out to be an alienafter Zane intercepts and deciphers some clicks and static as alien communicationand then goes off to Mexico to prove that the aliens are, as I recall, causing Global Warming, and chatting back and forth with each other via all this tongue clicking. If they had tongues, which they probably didnt, because maybe they didnt even have faces. But I do think that was Teri Polo of Meet the Fockers playing his girlfriend. Hell, 1996 was a long time ago; I cant remember everything, and IMDB just crashes my machine. But, say what you will, I liked it a lot better than the infinitely more pretentious Contact, with Jodie Foster.)
At any rate, since my friends and I dont speak Michael Keaton or alien, I was going to have to remedy this situation.
I isolated it to two problems: first, I wasnt getting signal; and second, the components of the phone were disintegrating and falling apart (you could see daylight through it).
I discovered I could solve the first problem, to some degree (at least broadcasting snatches of conversation), if I would lie on my right side with my left arm in the air. This was fine as a stopgap measurebut it was only a matter of time until I was pulled over or got in a really bad accident.
As for the phone itself falling apart, Im pretty impressed at my resourcefulness.
A large binder clip worked well briefly, but it made it difficult to dial, so I switched to one of those ponytail holders (which have the tensile strength of steel as far as I can telland let me clarify I just mean the wrapped bands, and that I am not, nor have I ever been, in possession of a scrunchy).
When those snapped, I got out an Ace bandage (which didnt work) before proceeding to the duct tape (which is usually my first course of action), but noticed it would obscure the keypad entirely.
Desperate times requiring desperate measures and all, I then got the Gorilla Glue out of my toolkit (which is actually a pink Barbie lunchbox, but it is surprisingly well stocked).
Gorilla Glue is not for the faint of heart, but Ive found itll work for almost any household emergency that canNOT be solved by duct tape, which are admittedly few.
I was about to disassemble the whole thing and drench all the components in the amber glow of my primate adhesive of choice when the damn BATTERY died, AND refused to take a charge. I plugged it in, and a little Stop Sign popped up that said, NOT Charging. (My guess is, it saw the Gorilla Glue coming and was either trying to protect itself
or just giving me the finger. My other theory was that this was my punishment from God for accidentally forgetting to turn it to Silent when we went to see In Good Company this weekendarousing the wrath of an entire theatre when the pager went off. If you were there: Im sorry. Forgive me. I really did have a lot on my mind and Ill never do it again.)
I realize this all sounds FAIRLY irrational to NORMAL people (who wouldve just bought another phone), but please dont underestimate my unwillingness to venture forth to the wireless store; to make a commitment of any kind (much less one involving two-year contracts); and/or my capacity for sheer cheapness when it comes to my refusal to waste money on something I dont want, along with my pathological aversion to getting ripped off.
I do okay with big decisionsI bought my house over the span of about 48 hoursbut my eyes glaze over and I develop a virtual paralysis when it comes to the truly trivial. Left to my own devices, Ill just stand in an electronics store helplessly like Rainman, chanting bout a hunnerd dollars til somebody takes pity on me. (They know me well at HH Gregg, and Ive found them to be quite supportive.)
I also wasnt exactly reassured by the story (possibly told to me in confidence) by a NAMELESS colleague who said she had the same problem I did with this provider and that the only way she got a new phone out of them was when she started crying and wouldnt stop. Her fear was that shed set feminism back a few decadesmy fear was that I am very rarely capable of crying (unless I have sustained a serious injury). Plus, I wasnt anxious to let them break me. I do have my pride.
So I took a leave of absence from work; left a forwarding address; and headed to the wireless storeloaded for bear and ready to do battle.
I planned to leave there with a phone. I wasnt going to sign a contract. I wasnt going to pay $800 bucks for anything. I was hoping it wouldnt be necessary to use violence, take hostages, or fake a seizure, but I was pretty committed to the strategy that anyone who mentioned bluetooth to me would require an emergency visit to the dentist.
Once I got there, I realized I hadnt thoroughly thought this through.
There was a sign-in sheet at the door, exactly like the kind you get at the doctors officeexcept the place didnt appear to be staffed by anyone whod passed an MCAT. It didnt appear to be staffed by anyone whod ever passed a bar. It didnt really appear staffed at all.
As I browsed mindlessly, it became clear that there were two young children running the placeand over the course of eavesdropping for several hours, it seems that Tiffany AND Heather had been allowed to leave for lunch at the same time; Joey had called in sick; and all the managers were taking the holiday off. There was another guy with a limp who occasionally labored his way up front to the registers, but he offered nothing more than false hope as it turned out he was a tech who worked on the phones in the back (where theres a big sign that says, THIS IS NO LONGER A SHOP.) I was hoping he could at least be prevailed upon to kick Tiffany and Heathers ass if they returned, but he was always in and out too fast.
They also needed a new sign-in pad because the old one was fullwhich is where I noticed my banker and his wife had logged in just in front of meabout the same time they greeted me and asked how my holidays had been. They were just there to update their FamilyPlan (you could tell by the clean, healthy, well-rested gleam in their eyes), and I was on the verge of asking him if he could loan me $800 bucks when my name finally got called. (My FIRST name by the way. And I dont know about you but I was raised to address my elders with some sort of respectful prefix, even if it was just Miss Nancy or Mister Jackand I wasnt about to validate the practice of TEENAGERS using my first name, so I didnt respond until I heard the inaccurate but more appropriate MIZZUS, followed by my last name.)
Hampered by the presence of my banker and a roomful of parents with their coughing, hacking children who were out of school for the day, I was not able to be as
as I had planned, and in fact, censored myself to an amazing degree given that THEIR merger had caused all of MY problems, and I was MORE than ready to dig in and take the self-righteous, fault-free moral high ground (with zero intention of mentioning the Gorilla Glue, since I didnt ACTUALLY get to pour any of it into the phone).
Still, I walked out with a phone. I didnt pay $800 bucks. And I did NOT sign a contract. Now I spend all my free time programming profanity into the predictive text feature.
Naturally, no sooner was the digital ink dry on my painstaking entry of 472 names into my rolodex than they came out with the ACTUAL model that I had wanted from Lost in Translation.
It looks like a credit card, and its called something like The Razor 5000, which is either an allusion to how thin it is, or an indication that it doubles as a weapon/personal protection device.
And, having learned nothing from my horrible experience, if I had $800 bucks on me, I would go get one right now. n