My Name is Christina

Not that I was greatly surprised, but burying my old cell phone in rice for 24 hours did nothing to cure my no start problem. Part of me was ready to accept this new reality, this return to the way things used to be. But as I drove out to buy new sneakers for my upcoming race, I realized things can never truly go back to the way they were. I had a pocket full of quarters, but where was I going to find a payphone? I was running late and probably wouldn't get home in time to drive my mom to church, but without a cell phone I couldn't even call to ask my dad to drop her off so I could meet her there. So I ended up driving home first, seeing her car missing, and running in the house to get confirmation that, as it was ten after 5, she had already left.

No, it isn't practical to live without a mobile device of any kind. Next weekend I'm playing an all-day gig in New Jersey. It would be helpful if I could communicate with other band members and coordinate if I run late or hit any delays. So, after mass and dinner, I checked the hours for the Verizon store where my parents first bought our phones and, seeing that it would be open a few more hours, headed out with my mom, as the phones are under her name.

Picking out the last bits of rice from my phone, I headed inside where a helpful salesgirl led us to a computer console and asked for our information. I started to give my name, then remembered whose name was on the paperwork, glancing at my mom who nodded. “Christina.”, I told the girl. She then directed us to wait in the next room where a technician would call us. So the name request wasn't to bring up our records, only to put us in the queue.

Obviously, the technician was a bit thrown when he called “Christina!” and I approached the register. I kind of gave a sidewards head nod toward the old lady, but with the high counters, he may not have seen more than a tuft of curly hair peeking up. I explained the problem and handed him the phone, which he turned over a few times and studied. Most of the time he was talking to another girl behind the counter, and once or twice took a phone call and wandered into the back. When he finally did seem to remember we were standing there, he mumbled something about it being a five-year-old phone that they didn't make anymore and that we were eligible for an upgrade. He said they didn't have the equipment to even retrieve information and he didn't even have a charger. I'd brought mine, and I handed it to him. He plugged it in and stared at it which, like most of what he'd been doing, was something I'd already thought of with as much success.

He explained that if he could turn the phone on, he'd be able to copy my stored information to a computer and transfer it to a new one. You can see the irony. If I could turn the phone on, I wouldn't have been there. He pointed out that we were in a new queue and I saw the name “CHRISTINA” up on a television screen under “Sales”. On the floor we waited a bit and discussed our options before a salesperson showed us around. The way he spoke, it was clear he thought the phone was for my mom, and that she was some doddering old feeb. “Well, THIS one has large buttons...and it shouldn't be too complicated for her...” My mom quickly played along and acted the part, asking me questions about each phone or to translate some of the technical jargon. “What does that mean? You can take pictures?” After a bit, we were called back to the sales desk and gave our information once more. With the upgrade and some of the credit we somehow had accrued, the phone would only be $50, but there was a $50 mail in rebate, so we'd get it all back. As long as it was free, we were all for it. There was even a new plan that got us 50 extra minutes a month for the same price, assuming the primary user was over 65. “Oh yes,” said the 70-year-old sly Sicilian woman next to me to the salesgirl, “I am. But thank you for asking, dear.”

So, I now have a new phone, with precisely two numbers, my parents' home phone and my mom's cell phone. I can take 2 megapixel pictures, and set them as wall paper. I think I can go online with it, but the girl explained that there would be extra charges for that so I need to be careful. I also read something in the plan she showed us about “data” costing $1.99 per MB to send. A few photos that I took I e-mailed to myself, so we'll see what the bill looks like. I'm pretty sure the photos were both well under a megabyte. And like my last phone, I'm sure there's a slew of hidden features that I've yet to discover, and might never find or need. The number remained the same, so I kept my saved voicemails, some of which are real gems. It seems my old text messages are all gone thought, and I will need to rebuild my phone directory. The one good thing is that this phone does have a memory card, so the next time I do something stupid like carry it in the same pocket as a bottle of water on a hot day, I have a better chance of saving the information and moving it to my next phone. Hopefully, I'll take better care of this one, and it will last a little longer. After all, “Christina”'s phone, purchased at the same time as my old one, still looks brand new.



UPDATE: So I see the old phone lying here and decide to try one last time to turn it on. You guessed it; the damn thing works now. So on the down side we bought a new phone for nothing, but on the plus side I can now retrieve all my old information and get it on the newer phone. I wish I hadn’t been in such a hurry to replace it. And I wonder why it didn’t work for two days. Was there moisture in there? Was it the excess humidity keeping it from drying properly? Did the rice actually do anything? I may never know....


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