Posted by TX Grant
Today the topic is Cell Phones, and I answered a few questions because I have been told I never answer questions. Is that true? I don’t know, but my initial impulse is to not answer that question. I was also asked what do I like? What do I dislike?
Cell Phones: Tin cans and string: This Cell phone thing is my generations fault. I’ll fess up right here. We tied string to tin cans, pretended they were loud and clear radios, and dreamed of networks of tin cans and string. Okay, I dreamed of networks of tin cans and string. I think a few of my friends did too, but I won’t put them on the spot. But someone must have besides me because we grew up looking for that tin can.
We spawned children with that tin can thing embedded in their DNA. That and the Communicator from Star Trek. If that wasn’t a glimpse into the future and cell phones I don’t know what it was. It was inevitable and we should have known it as soon as some fool back in the fifties gave us Walki-Talkies.
It was almost a reality right there. Probably good enough for some of us, but no not for all of us: Some said…
“Hey, Bob. What if I could talk to Tim, Ellie and even my sister Sherry with these things?”
“Well,” Bob says. “Why would you want to talk to your sister Sherry? She’s a girl.”
“Oh… Right… Never mind.”
But, then some other guy went… “Hey, Bob. What if I could talk to anyone I wanted to with this thing? I mean like anywhere?”
“Well,” Bob said. “We’d have to make them affordable… Put them in the hands of people everywhere.. We’d have to build relay stations… We’d… We could do it! We could!”
And so Marketing and the Cell Phone industry was born right there. And Bob probably headed it. Now we all have Cell Phones and we might as well be welded to them, or they to us.
Last week I remembered I had a cell phone for a reason. To make calls to people, or so that people could reach me. I was watching a really stupid movie at the time. Four young people stranded in the desert. The moron dude (There is always a moron dude who does the dumb thing that puts them all in the bad situation), so, the Moron Dude wrecks the truck and they’re stranded in the desert. So what does he do first? Tries his cell phone. And does it work? Of course not. And, I thought, hmm, I have a cell phone, what if I paid all this money for minutes, and, and (I tend to get excited when I think of stupid things that just might be possible) I get stranded in the desert, and I flip open my Cell phone, and I have, like, 300 minutes, so I sigh, relieved, I will not die in the desert and the young woman med student won’t have to pound a hole in my head to relieve the fluid buildup so I will live! That was what she (The med student) had just finished doing to one of the people in the movie, pounding a hole in her head to relieve the pressure buildup. Hmm. It didn’t work too well. The person still died. Now, my characters do things too. But I have yet to write a scene where one actually pounds a hole into another characters head with a frickin’ rock.
I’ll tell you, I was relieved. I have enough holes in my head (Some say). Then I remembered the scenario. Minutes don’t matter. Reception matters. So, in my head, in my little world in the desert with the Moron Guy, and the Med Student woman, I look down at my phone again. Damn. 300 minutes and no bars. But, like the Moron Dude I try it anyway. Doesn’t work. The young Med Student woman is looking at me funny. Like she can’t wait to pound that hole in my head. Son of a bitch, I think. This really sucks. Then I remember, it’s not real. I am relieved again, except I am still watching this pathetic movie, and I am looking at my cell phone and wondering why I welded myself to it.
Anyway, dumb movies aside, it really did get me thinking about my cell phone. I have this many friends. (I’m holding up fingers on one of my hands). Let’s just say it’s a small amount, I have fingers left over. Now, all of those friends never call me on my cell phone. If they need to reach me they send an email or call me on my land line. Yes, I have a land line. I know how pathetic that sounds. And I rarely ever use it either. But that’s another blog. So, my friends know my email address, and my home phone and my cell phone number, and they never call me on the cell phone. Yet every month I buy minutes and put them on the damn phone. So I must have thousands of minutes on the phone. Just then the phone rang.
“Hello?” I’m cautious. No one calls me here. “No one calls me here,” I say.
Turns out it is a new-old friend. IE: One I knew years before who just reconnected and does not realize no one calls me on my Cell Phone.
“Hey,” I say. What else can I say? “No, you’re not bothering me,” I lie. Then, the phone goes dead.
“Hello? Hello?” I take the phone away from my ear and stare at it as though that can fix it or at least tell me what is wrong. Nope. five bars. Hey, wait a minute, no minutes! How can that be? I just ran out of minutes on my cell phone. But I just put minutes on it. Hmm, a conundrum.
That lead right into the stupid movie, and I realized, if it was me, my luck would be that I would find I had a signal, and then discover that I had no minutes. And so, I asked myself, why is that? And that is the crux of the problem. Because, as I mentioned, no one calls me on my cell phone. So, where do all the minutes go to? They go to all the other calls. The ones I didn’t ask for. The Cell Phone Spammers. Yes. Those guys/gals/machines. They call all of the time.
“Hi! did you know that for just three hundred dollars a month you can get an unlimited number of minutes,” the voice asks?
“Really,” I ask?
The voice just keeps yacking. It’s not a real voice. It’s a machine. But I’m lonely, they know it, and they know I am stupid enough to listen to a machine… At least for a little while.
“Press One now for the Budget Plan. Press Two for the Super Business Package. Press three for the…”
I hang up. Cell Phone Hooker, I think. I think some other unkind things too, even though I know it is a machine. An hour later the phone rings. I think, ‘I shouldn’t answer that. They probably just want to sell me something.’ But I am stupid, or I have a defective gene, or both.
“Hello? Is this a machine,”I ask right off the bat.
“No sir,” a female voice. Heavy accent. “I am calling regarding your account.”
“Oh… Oh, sorry… I get these machine generated phone calls you see…” I shut up, because of course it’s the Cell Phone. Yakking is money. “My account?”
“Yes sir… My records show that you have the Thrifty Budget plan. And I wanted to make you aware of the Super Business Travelers plan..”
“Your Cell phone plan,” she explains.
“I don’t have the Thrifty Budget plan,” I say.
“Are you sure,” she asks?
“Mm, yes,” I decide.
“Hold on sir.” She sounds upset, leaves the line, and like the idiot I am, I wait for her to come back. Ten minutes later she does. “Sir?”
Probably she is checking only to see if I was stupid enough to hang on. But, no, I answer. “Yes… Ma’am.” I’m even polite. What an idiot.
“My records show that you do not have the Thrifty Budget plan. Please forgive me.”
And I am ready and willing to forgive her. It’s hot over there in New Delhi, I watch Big Bang Theory. I saw Slum Dog Millionaire. I know it’s got to be a hard job working half way around the worl… She interrupts me.
So, Sir?” She waits until I answer. The minute monster is eating my phone alive.
“So, wouldn’t this be a great time to get the Super Business plan?”
Finally it dawns on me. “Hey, are you from **** & ****?”(My phone provider)
“Well, no. I’m from **** *****.”
I hang up. I feel used. Dirty. ‘Damn,’ I think. I am even cussing. ‘Damn Dirty Ape. Frig!’ It is the most severe cussing I can come up with on short notice.
Okay, so I’m sitting there and slow as I am it finally dawns on me where all of my minutes go, they go to answering the phone so these guys can sell me more minutes so I can answer the phone, so they can sell me more minutes, so I can answer the phone IF one of my friends ever call, and, as evidenced, if one of my friends do call, I’ll have no minutes to talk to them. Boy am I dumb. Hmm… Then I think, Well, I could just let the medical student woman in the movie pound the hole in my head. Might be quicker, smarter too.
Light rain here in New York. Hope it’s better where you are. Okay, that’s my week. I hope your week was good. Check me out on iTunes: TX Grant