New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Sunday, April 24, 2005

My First Cell Phone

I had avoided getting a cell phone for years, but Sunday, April 24, 2005 will now forever be known as Victor's First Cell Phone day. I broke down and bought a phone and got a service plan and now I have joined the cell phone generation.

I had avoided it all these years for a number of reasons. First and foremost was that I didn't want to pay the bill. I'm a cheap (parsimonious) guy and the idea of paying fifty bucks a month more than I was already paying was unappealing.

Second, I thought (and still think) that cell phones are kind of obnoxious and gauche. Third, cellular sound and service quality is still quite poor, especially compared to regular phones. And last, I just don't enjoy talking on the phone that much. I prefer to meet people face to face. I'm a face-time guy, that's how I communicate the best.

I finally decided to get a phone because I felt like I needed a business number for my freelance writing. Also, I wanted to be able to keep in touch with my wife, family, and friends. So, what the hell, now, for a total of $52.02 a month, I'm cell phone guy, with more minutes than I will probably ever use, but at least I've got "rollover."

Funny story about the cell phone, though. It was actually yesterday (Saturday) morning when I first got the phone. I was in Manhattan, walking down Broadway in the Village, and I was going to turn left (East) on Eighth Street so I could buy coffee beans at Porto Rico on St. Mark's Place, but I told myself that if I saw a Cingular store on Broadway before I got to Eighth I'd go in and buy a cell phone. (My friend Noah said Cingular was decent.) Sure enough, right as I was about to turn, I saw a Cingular store on Broadway at about Seventh Street.

I went in and was greeted by a tall guy named Galen. I told him I was here to get my first cell phone, and I wanted something cheap and simple and I wasn't going to use it very much. I also said I wanted to get a Nokia phone, because my friend Justin works at Nokia and I wanted to support him, and also support the very nice country of Finland, which I have visited several times. Helsinki is a fine capital, but I recommend getting up north to Rovaniemi.

Everything was going great. Galen was friendly and knowledgable and he helped me decide on a simple Nokia 3120 phone which I would get for free (after rebate) and a plan in just a few minutes (I am a fast shopper, I don't like to linger in stores). He even found me a coveted 917 number. But when he put a "sim card" in my new phone and tried to register it, it failed. Didn't work. Normally these things are supposed to power right up. Not this time.

He tried another sim card. It too didn't work. He got on the phone with the Cingular network people. A couple of times. Failure, failure, failure. The network people finally said that the whole system was down, and new phones weren't being registered. But if I took the phone home, it would register automatically as soon as the "system" was working again.

I was disappointed because I had expected to be able to walk out of the store with a working cell phone. I was going to surprise my wife by calling her at home from my new cell phone to ask her what she wanted on her bagel, but I couldn't (I ended up getting a half pound of egg salad). Had I not waited long enough for the cell phone companies to work out the bugs in their "system"? Do they need another decade? Did I just make a big mistake getting into this sketchy cell phone world?

Galen told me to call him if I didn't have service by 2:00 p.m. I walked to Porto Rico and got two pounds of beans, went to David's Bagels, and then went home. When 2:00 p.m. rolled around and I still didn't have service, I called Galen (from my regular phone) and he said he'd been on the phone with the network people, and they said that the system was still out of wack, but at midnight they were going to "force" all the new registrations through, so that might work, and he'd call the next morning to see if it did. Fine.

I went to kumite class at 4:00 p.m. I came back and cleaned up and then Jenn and I had a lovely dinner at the Garden Grill diner on Graham Avenue. I had a craving for a burger, and that is what I got. Jenn got the chicken souvlaki platter. Our meal was very good. On the walk home we bought the Sunday New York Times. And that was the extent of our Saturday night. It was very pleasant.

This morning, as promised, Galen called at around 10:15 a.m. and I told him the phone still wasn't working. He tried one more time to activate it remotely (I had to take out the sim card and read him the number) but it still didn't work, so I agreed I'd meet him at the shop. Jenn and I went into the city. She went to Benetton while I went into the Cingular shop.

Galen thought there might have been a problem with my 917 number but he would try a new sim card anyway (my third sim card). Voila! The phone worked with the third sim card. I got to keep my 917 number, and the phone worked fine. He said it was unheard of to have two sim cards fail in a row. One sim card was rare enough, but two? Forget about it.

Of course it happened with me. But anyway, I finally had my phone. I called Jenn. She answered her phone (she's had a cell for years) from inside a dressing room in Benetton. How very New York.

We met and then, amazingly, bumped into Jenn's friend Joy near the entrance to Benetton. We all rapped for a while, then I went with Jenn to a lingerie shop where she used up a $50 gift certificate on a fancy bra, and then we came home.

I was playing with my new phone for a while, making a voicemail greeting and calling a few people, but now we're relaxing and catching up on things. The phone is charging downstairs. And that's my phone story. It's a testament to how cool Galen was that I didn't flip out and just say screw the whole thing, I'm going back to my Unabomber shack. I knew he was doing his best and that it was the system to blame. I just hope the system never breaks down on me again.

Anway, now I can get freelance business cards made with my new cell phone number on them. Surely this new phone will put me on the freight train to success.


Blogger Sandi said...

Just don't try to use it in the house, elevator, office building or anywhere with a lot of electric lines. You'll be fine, and they have finally said that cell phones don't cause brain cancer, so your good there. HA HA HA

8:24 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

It's comforting to know that the next time you retreat to your Unabomber shack, at least I'll be able to reach you by phone.
Seriously, I'm glad you've got yourself a cell that works. Though I'll admit I was kind of hoping it'd be another chocolate model (see earlier post) when you first announced you'd bought a phone.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to the 21st century my friend.


4:19 PM  

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