written May 5, 2012, with a retro revision June 9, 2016
My trusty old slide-phone had admittedly seen better days. I blame the dropping and crashing. That the gadget’s days were numbered did not stem the sting when it was suddenly beaten by rain. I often keep my phone on the window ledge or desk by a usually open window, now that it’s warmer. I awoke this morning to a wet device and an unresponsive, black screen. Curses. And I’m awaiting a job callback about a summer teaching position. Shit curses.
To the Verizon store!
But don’t mistake this sudden acquiescence to necessity for enthusiasm. I actually tense up at entering these places, like going to a party thrown by that one guy that’s given to App-speak, and will needle you in the corner of his kitchen for not updating religiously.
I’ve been spotted, two paces after entering their sleek domain.
That sound you might’ve heard was just the doors locking behind you, for your convenience. …How many I help you?
“Hi, yeah, my phone’s given out,” I tell my instant help. By that I mean my phone, which is probably nothing like your phone, or like you’ve probably seen in years, perhaps even 2010. The kid looks friendly and eager. There’s a good chance I’ve passed him on campus. He’s fine. His name tag reads “Devin.” Holding out my comatose phone to him, I silently add, ‘These were once big things–big, I promise!–probably in the days before you were hired here.’ Devin peers down, examining it like it’s a sack lunch brought into Spago’s. “It probably can’t be fixed, I know,” I now vocalize to him, “but right now I was just looking for something basic, just something to make calls.”
I’m led to the Wall of Newest Wonders. “Now this device will give you 5-Gig processing time to watch as many movies as–”
“Really,” I plead to Devin. “Today I just need a simple phone. Where are those?” After making a quick circuit around the store it was clear none could be had for under $190. Devin, being a Representative Specialist Service Agent Executor of Customer Needs And All Earthy Desires, let me know those phone–the limited, archaic ones–would cost more. The new Droid Razr would be my cheapest option. Come again?
A bright-faced girl named Meeghan, ten minutes later, was reviewing an extensive service agreement that seemed more one-sided than “agreement” is usually defined. “I hereby gift you,” says the version of Meeghan I hear, “to this wonderful, exciting two-year sentence. Expect to be in violation of data and talk-time limits for the duration, without the possibility of Verizon leniency or palore. Alright, and how will you be pleading today?” Glumly, I hear the whistling of a falling checking account. Wrap it up.
The old phone never has never regained life to spill all the contact info it held. The new phone, meanwhile, is just beginning to earn its keep with a single call to Jimmy John’s.
“I’m not a Luddite, really,” I explain to my first smartphone that evening, taking another bite of sandwich, a bit of avocado and spouts spilling out the side. I’m exasperated. My new purchase is laying on the side table with hurt feelings for not being instantly, lovingly embraced. The manufacturer hadn’t prepared it for falling into this kind of relationship. “It’s just, I thought if I was going to take a step like this it was going to be more of a choice, instead of feeling pushed. You know, something I wanted to do. This all just sort of…happened.”
Later, before setting my new technology on the window ledge by my bed I checked the Cubs score. It was a clobbering by the Dodgers, 5-1, the outcome flying quickly and seamlessly before me. “Hm, pretty good,” I thought as I turned out the lights, “but I still wonder how they scored that one run.” If I had wished, I realized, the new phone possessed the power to tell me how the Cubs lost in an endless myriad of fun ways. Well, maybe tomorrow. This Droid may have been slow to warm up to my chilled heart and fumbling fingers, but I’m sure it will come around, now that I am its rightful master.