Saturday, April 28, 2012

Antique Cell Phones

Rich Smith

A couple of months ago I failed to empty my pants pockets before placing them in the wash and my cell phone went through the washer. It came out clean as a whistle but totally dead.  Somehow laundry soap, hot water, and electronics are incompatible. 

I went to the Verizon store to buy another one and asked the salesman for a simple, no frills phone, just like the one Jitterbug offers. “I don’t want a glowing pink phone that is as thin as a credit card, has pin-head-sized keys, and a screen that I have to wear my glasses to read. I don’t want to text, download games or quirky apps, read my e-mail, take or send photographs, play annoying ring tones, or download TV shows.  I just want a telephone, you know like the device that Alexander Graham Bell invented, and one that has simple menus, keys that fit my thumb and a screen that doesn’t need a magnifier to read in bright light.” 

The young man looked baffled, like he was talking to someone who just got off a 19th century banana boat.  “But they all come with these features,” he explained.  “What you really want is this brand new vibrant green wiz bang gizmo that talks to you, will perform your spoken commands, has a 10 mega pixel screen, can take National Geographic quality photographs, search the internet to find the nearest gas station, answer your prosaic questions, and tell you where you are at any time.  And all this can be yours for only $246 plus our two year irrevocable contract.”  “I don’t want those features,” I groused, “and by the way I know where I am.  I’m a store that doesn’t sell what I want.  I think I’ll go over to Wal-Mart.”

Another much older and wiser clerk overheard our conversation, and said to wait while he went in the back.  He emerged a few minutes later with a dust covered box.  “Here is a 2009 version cell phone that we no longer sell or service, but I can offer it to you for only $52 if you extend your two year irrevocable contract (ever try to get out of one of these contracts?).

The ancient device was a beautiful flip phone housed in a black plastic case with a large easy to read screen and big keys. It didn’t have any of the useless features I didn’t want. It rang just like a real telephone and only needed to be flipped open to answer an incoming call. I immediately fell in love with it, but the phone came with a ominous warning: “There is no warrantee implied or otherwise with this phone.” The salesman added the following caveat. “Replacement batteries are not available, so if the battery dies you will be out of luck.” 

 I can only hope that the battery lasts longer than the irrevocable two year contract that I signed.

1 comment:

  1. YESSS!!!!! Don't they realize that some of us have very limited cell phone access and don't need all the bells & whistles????