But not having a smart phone definitely had its drawbacks as well. Like it or not, the vast majority of the people in my life text. Trying to text using number keys is akin to trying to operate a rotary phone - laborious, time consuming, and inevitably infuriating. Not to mention the cost of being held hostage by group texts. I appreciate the convenience of it – like say when a coach needs to let us all know when practice is. But I could care less that little Freddy will be at practice, and without a texting plan, I really didn’t appreciate having to spend a dollar to find out. And there’s at least fifteen little Freddy’s each time. Then I’d have to spend ten minutes deleting all the “Little Freddy will be there!” messages because my phone had no storage and would constantly remind me that my memory was full and if I didn’t delete something I wouldn’t be getting messages I actually cared about. Not that I understood many of those. Texts mean nothing when you can’t pull up the photos attached and the emojis show up as blank squares. ‘Ted came to visit today (blank square). Check out this picture of him (black screen).’ Yeah – I don’t even know if Ted is human let alone how my friend is feeling about him.
So I was at Costco recently, stocking up on toilet paper and trail mix (because apparently I need to store enough supplies to survive a zombie apocalypse) and I left with a smart phone. I’m not sure what happened – the whole incident is a blur, not unlike being awakened out of a sound sleep to get hazed for a fraternity. I recall walking by the cell phone station, holding up my flip phone and saying, “I should probably upgrade. My camera died recently and people keep texting me…” There was a sales lady with a thick accent, she’d ask me questions about what I needed and I would shake my head in confusion and hold up my flip phone. “I have no frame of reference.” I was a cave man at Radio Shack.
She would sigh and say, “Okay, okay. Here’s what we do...” Upon looking at the numbers she scribbled on the sheet of scratch paper – it seemed as though this new phone and services would not cost me much more than my current plan, considering the texting fees I was accruing. I needed a new camera anyway, and the carrier was having a big sale. There was a rebate, it was buy one get one free, and I got a free tablet thrown in. Of course that was the last day of the sale and it was near closing time. I needed to make a decision right then. As we proceeded, more things kept getting scribbled on that scratch paper. A start-up fee and of course I needed a protective cover. She suggested insurance, and let me know I had to pay tax for the full price of everything. I remember signing more paperwork than I did when I bought my house. I confess I didn’t take the time to read it all – I left wondering if I had promised them my first born.
It was fun playing with my new phone, I must admit. My son helped me customize my ring tone (Paperback Writer – the Beatles). I could emoji like a champ. The voice mail-to-text function was thoroughly entertaining (apparently my name is Andrew and nobody speaks in complete sentences). I could take pictures and videos easily. Mostly it was convenient and I could properly communicate with my friends and family.
Then the bill came. I knew it was going to be awful given the flashbacks I was having, but sweet baby Jesus in a diaper! I about had a stroke. As if the sum of all the fees I knew about weren’t bad enough – apparently Sales Lady has an entirely different definition of ‘free’ than I do. When I called to complain, they said if I had bothered to read the fine print I would have known that in order to get my tablet ‘free,’ it was given a phone number. A phone number that came with a start-up fee and monthly bill of its own. There’s a fee if I cancel this number I never knew about, so either way that ‘free’ tablet will end up costing me the full retail value of the tablet. I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of a con. I mean, what reason would I have for turning a tablet into a phone if I just bought a freaking smart phone? I never would have gotten the tablet, especially since I already have one! Silly me, I thought ‘free’ meant it cost me nothing. Either phone carriers like them are falsely advertising or Webster’s needs to update their dictionary.
You’re laughing at me right now. You could have told me phone sales are worse than used car sales, because you probably had a similar experience five or more years ago. Seriously, you could have told me.
Well, believe me, I have learned my lesson. Next time a sales lady hands me a stack of legal documents to sign, I will read every word and make her sit there and explain it all to me as I go. On second thought – I think I’ll keep this phone until I die. I paid enough for it – it should last that long, right?