I just traded in my old-school flip phone. It's the one that flew out of my back pocket while I was riding my scooter and still worked. But it's also the one that took a lesson in zen patience to text with: 3(D), 8-8(U), 6(M), 2-2(B), 7(P), 4-4(H), 6-6-6(O), 6-6(N), 3-3(E). And it was one of many reasons my middle school students make fun of me. When they're not busy pointing out how my arms flab about when I erase the board, how the food I brought for lunch "looks nasty," or how the running man is not a dance anybody does these days. What do they know.
My phone contract (seriously? contract? I've been committed to the 2 cell phones I've had in my life longer than most of the relationships I've been in)- was up this summer, so I took it by the local phone place for an upgrade.
The following shitty thesis goes out to the one or two students who read this blog:
In this paper, I will tell you about how I don't know much about today's phone technology. And also how I make an ass of myself. Often.
"Hello, what can I help you with today?" says the Sprint guy. Normal question. Deserves a normal response, like, "Oh, I'm ready to upgrade my phone." That's all that's needed, really. I'm apparently sometimes incapable of delivering all that's needed. I give unwanted garnish (like verbal parsley) or sometimes the wrong dish altogether.
"Yeah...uh...." (while I dig in my bag for my old-school flip phone) "Well...you'll see what I need help with here in a sec" (Phone dude stands still, eyebrows raised. I locate the phone and pull it out, flipping it open.) "BAM! Check out this old-school business. I'm only missing the big ol' bag that holds the battery and plugs into the car. Right? Right? Remember those? No, you're too young. Check out my texting skills." (I go into a pantomime of pressing buttons over and over while making a face that, I think, says, "Damn! This is taking a looooong time to text my message.") All unnecessary things, I see now- in the light of day.
"Well. Yes. I can certainly help you with that."
We go to the counter and he takes some basic information, including asking for my driver's license.
"Yeah. That was my soccer mom phase. See? In the photo? Don't I look all, 'Hey, neighborhood kids! Get in my minivan and I'll take you to practice!' Yeah. I do. And I was like, 20 pounds heavier. Right? Isn't my face puffy? You know it is. Don't lie."
Phone guy probably thinks to himself, Um. I'm not lying. I'm not even talking. I'm just trying to enter your information into the computer.
"For security reasons, what is the street that you grew up on?"
"SHAF-tes-burrrry. Shaftesbury. Sounds like England, I know. But it's in U. City. Uuuuuu City. I love U. City."
At this point, I'm aware that my chatter is on hyper-drive, and I really have no idea why. I don't do speed. I wasn't, like, ridiculously excited about a new phone or nervous about talking to a stranger. I did just have a big cup of coffee, which is like speed. So, I guess I do do speed. (I said "do-do.") Anyway, sometimes I talk too much. Quickly. And not anything of particular substance. I've been told this.
"Okay. Come over here and take a look at a few of these phones."
We walk about 15 feet to the display phones. I manage to say nothing, nor do I adopt some kind of wacky gait. I do no dance moves. I appear almost mature and normal.
"This one is the one I have. It has wireless capabilities and...um. Over here. Don't touch that."
I've begun poking at nearby screens with my pointer finger because they're there. I can't tell you the restraint it takes me not to press all buttons on an elevator. It's only because my desire to have strangers (say, on an elevator) like me is greater than my compulsion to touch all elevator buttons that I don't do it. Anymore.
"Sorry. It's just- okay. Sorry. What were you saying?"
"This one has 4 Gs."
"I'm already G enough! I don't need no 4 extra Gs, homie!" (Yeah. This was definitely funnier in the split second it lived only in my head and not out loud. And it certainly didn't need to be said with my mock gangsta hand motions.)
"Oh. Ha. Right. No. This gives you instant connection for your internet." He snaps his fingers. I wonder if they taught him to do that in cell phone selling class. I used to wink my right eye and make a clicking noise at my customers when I was in retail. I have no idea where I picked that up, but it was about as creepy as you're picturing it to be.
"Okay. I'll take it!"
"Wait. Do you have any questions about-"
"Can I do facebook on that thing?" (Oh, man. I'm an idiot.) "And locate Starbucks? Because I really only want to get on facebook and find Starbucks. And maybe text some people." (Wow. How to make yourself come off as the biggest moron. And I somehow know this, but I can't keep my mouth shut. My inside thoughts become my outside words in a split second. *snap*)
"Yes. It can. I'll go in the back and get one for you. Hang on a sec."
I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure he cocked his head to the side and squinted his eyes in that parental, "I'm going to leave you alone for a minute but don't you touch anything, missy" kind of way. I touched things. Just to spite him.
Out came my new phone in a box, and as he sat behind his computer and did more computer-y set up things, I proceeded to take the phone out of the packaging and begin poking around. I'm holding it like it has cooties and turning it over and over in my hands.
"Where's the talky part?" I ask.
"You know. The HELLO! HELLLLLOOOOOO! IT'S MEEEEE! part." (I'm yelling into the bottom of the phone.) "There is no talky part. With holes. Little holes. You know, like 'HELLLLLO!"
"No. It's fine. Put it up to your-"
"HEEEEEELLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I'm yelling and flipping the phone around. My phone guy's manager has come out from behind the little divider and is looking at me.
"Hi," I say to him. "Where's the talky part? Remember on the old phones, the rotary ones, I mean, how you could unscrew the talky part? Yeah...The cell I'm getting rid of had the holes. You know. The holes that I'd talk into. The talky part."
"Ma'am," the manager explains. "Just hold the phone up to your ear."
"HELLLLOOOOOO! Like that? Where's the talky part? Seriously. Like, where does my voice go into the phone."
They both sigh and I decide that I'll save it for someone else. Lucky someone else.
In 45 minutes or so, my phone purchase is complete. I have a little guilt over abandoning my old phone, just like I did when I traded my last car in and then drove away all teary. I hate to think I'm hurting anyone's feelings. Anything, I mean. Anything's feelings. Because we all know how sensitive cell phones are.
So, now I'm at home. I've figured out how to download "apps" (the word irritates me) and can now locate a Starbucks no matter where I am. I've refused to download "Angry Birds" for the same reason that I refused to see Forrest Gump when it came out: everyone said how much they liked it and that somehow fundamentally pissed me off. (I did end up seeing Forrest Gump, by the way, and I liked it. But I'm not giving in to "Angry Birds.")
I skipped over the parts in the manual that might actually help me understand my phone better, but I did read all of the caution parts because I find them entertaining. I now know not to pour liquid on my phone. Or go into a grain bin with it, where I might explode. Or give it to a kid who might chew on it and choke on the chewed off parts. It didn't tell me not to take the battery out and put my tongue on it, but I'm going to pretend that's in there, too. Because I kind of want to. And I think it might not be good for both the battery and my tongue.
I also know to "take lots of breaks to stretch and relax" while texting to avoid injuries. This caution was my favorite. I'm taking a break from texting right now to write this blog. And it is, indeed, very relaxing. Perhaps I'll text someone about it when I'm done.
So, I'll return to school with a piece of new technology that my students both recognize and know how to operate. By the time I catch on, it will be outdated, no doubt. And that's okay with me.
I still have the running man.