I used to have one of those arm-length, Zach Morris-style cell phones. You know, the ones that are essentially guaranteed to give you eye cancer or brain cancer or testicular cancer, even though the thing barely fit in my pocket anyway. But then again: tight pants. I say "used to have" because at some point last week, between temp jobs and shows and overall sloth-dom, I lost it. No small feat, considering the fact it was slightly larger than a baby's torso, but then again, I've lost keys, guitars, permanent teeth. It's a super power, really. The Bush administration calls regularly when it wants memos misplaced. You should read the shit they send me.
Of course, cell phones are an essential part of modern living. I was definitely a late-adopter, getting one only after a college roommate neglected to pay our land-line bill the week of my birthday, which led to my Grandma calling and hearing that "this number has been disconnected due to staggeringly lazy negligence," and worrying I might be transforming into the sort of grandson who takes his birthday savings bonds to the dog track and screams "run, you horrible bitch" while spitting Skoal at nearby children. Instead, I turned into the sort of grandson who happens to be unemployed, spends most evenings away from home in dank bars playing music she can't like because my name is neither "Frank" nor "Sinatra".
At any rate, I had to get a new phone. I had visions of one of those high-tech kinds: the ones that are also camcorders and digital cameras and have ringtones that don't make you wish fondly for Hoobastank. Yes, I had high hopes. Until I got to the cell phone store, that is.
I'd say what company I used, but really: what's the point? They're all the same and they're all horrendous. It's like choosing which Bronte sister to read. There's the one with Catherine Zeta Jones, the one with that smug Rivers Cuomo looking guy, the one with the orange thing that looks like its doing snow angels. You know, it's actually less like the Bronte sister thing and more like ending up in one of those Ohio turnpike rest stops, having to eat a late lunch, and choosing between Burger King, Arby's, and S'barro's. Every one's a loser there.
So I walked to my friendly neighborhood cell hut, eager, ready. I had a few extra dollars and was hoping that I could scam my way into one of those "free" phones that involve sending forty-five mail-in rebates to central Kansas but also having a roommate's phone as a back-up plan: in other words, if I couldn't get a magical free phone, I'd make my own magical free phone. Diabolical, I know. So I get there and there's five employees helping five separate customers and I'm patiently waiting my turn, looking at insulting in-store advertisements, pacing. Five minutes go by. Ten. Twenty. Then, at about the half-hour mark, I notice there's now about two employees helping two customers. Perturbing, of course, but I'm still being patient since I need a phone for free so doormat-ness seems a good opening gambit. Then I notice the last two customers sign their receipts, scurry out, while one employee goes behind a door marked "Staff Only" while the other motions to me:
"Can I help you?"
"Yeah, definitely. I've been a customer for about five or six years now and I just lost my phone but I think I might be elligable for an upgrade. Could you check that for me?"
"...Yep. Yeah, you are."
"Great, show me what you've got then."
"Uh, sir. I'm actually not a salesman."
"O-kay. Then can you find me one?"
"Actually, sir, they're all in a meeting."
"All of them, huh?"
"Yeah, sorry about that."
"About how long till they're out?"
"Oh, it usually doesn't take longer than a half hour."
"Great. Would you mind if I stabbed you?"
Ok. Obviously didn't say that last part. I'm a docile sort of person. I'm like Ghandi, only with more hair and a better fashion sense. But really: who has an hour to wait at a cell phone store? Actually, come to think of it, I do. But, you know, imagine I had a job, or, or something to do. Yeah. That would've been rough.
Anyway, that's why you always have a back-up plan. I had the non-salesman put one of those SIM cards in my roomie's old phone, thanked him for being totally unhelpful, and walked back home. Yet, in a weird way: success. I got the free phone I was after. Plus, it's filled with phone numbers of people I don't know and some of people who I think I know but who just share the first name of people I know, which has already led to one text message of "Who the hell is this?" and will hopefully lead to the sort of misunderstanding oh so romantic comedies are predicated on. Added bonus: crying baby ringtone. What's less annoying than that?