Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Cell Phone Store

Boy, you sure got pasted by Frank Rich last Sunday, Bush! Whew! I only got to read his piece last night because my Sunday Times was not delivered this week, as a result of some dastardly mix-up, and I finally had to go online to read at least this one article on the Op-Ed page. I don't suppose you read it, Bush, did you? A pity, because it asked you in no uncertain terms to recognize what everyone else already knows: your war in Iraq is over. No matter how you try to dress it up or sugar-coat it, things aren't getting better in that conflicted country, Bush. Democracy? Freedom? You've got to be kidding.

Anyway, that's not what I started out to tell you about this morning. Have you ever tried to have a cell phone fixed? Probably not. I imagine you have plenty of people to do that kind of thing for you. But we did, yesterday. I was sitting quietly in the jacuzzi, relaxing the old body after a particularly cruel session at our local gym, when Ellie came over to tend to some plant nearby, leaned over... and, plop, the damn thing fell out of her pocket to the bottom of the pool.

Well, it was dead. We tried to revive it first by taking the battery out and drying the whole thing off with a towel, then with the hair dryer, to see it we could dry out the moisture in between the cracks. No luck. Well, it did finaly switch on, but the keys went all haywire when your pressed them, producing odd results on the read-out screen. A couple of hours later, it did seem to be reviving, at least in the top right corner of the keypad. No sound, but the display lights lit. And gradually, a few keys began to function...

So we decided to take it to the cell phone shop. What a nightmare! We found the shop in an abandoned corner of a huge Orange County shopping mall, and from the outside, the place looked deserted. When we opened the door, though... a mob scene. Unbelievable. It was as though half of Orange County had congregated there to add to their collection of mobile telephones. We were greeted by a nice young woman who seemed anxious to help and listened to our tale of woe with sympathy. Turned out, though, she was the "manager," who told us we needed to talk to the technichal support people in the rear.

We made our way back there. Amazing! Lines of people waiting to have their cell phones checked. A half dozen techies behind the counters, busy with their computer monitors and keyboards, tapping away merrily, checking into their diagnostic systems. Once we got to talk to one of them, he listened briefly to our story and told us that we might as well forget it. A wet cell phone, he informed us, is a dead cell phone. He punched in a few keys, to confirm his diagnosis. Might as well get a new one. We weren't insured, his computer told him: we were, however, "eligible for an update"--at the cost of only a hundred dollars.

But, we told him, some of the keys had seemed to be working. In fact, the problem had now narrowed down to the few keys clustered around the star key, the 7 and the 8. The thing seemed to be drying out. Was it not worth another try? He punched in a few more keys and expressed surprise. The cursed thing was, in fact, back in working order. "But," he assured us, "it will never be the same. Once a cell phone has been immersed, you'll never get the same quality of service from it."

Well, frankly, Bush, we didn't like his attitude. There's enough throwaway goes on in this disposable society. Things are made to last for a couple of years and then fizzle out, and no one seems to object. We're all too happy buying new things, the latest product, the update. This young man had not the slightest hesitation about throwing this device away and buying a new, more expensive, more elaborate one, which would take us another three weeks of intensive work to figure out.

So, no. We turned down his advice and decided to wait to see if the thing dried out. It seemed to be well on its way to recovery. We did stop in the front part of the shop to peruse some of the new devices. Cell phones that take photographs and transmit them. Cell phones that do video. Cell phones that do videoconferencing. Cell phones that fax and email... Cell phones, for all I know, that talk to the moon and Mars. Why not?

But I'm personally not convinced that we need all this stuff, Bush. Cell phones cause enough trouble as it is, with their constant presence and their constant ringing everywhere. But there was the whole of Orange County, busy buying new ones and updating their old. It's enough to drive you bonkers.


dan camiel said...

and to whoever invented the walkie-talkie feature on some cell phones...thanks! not only do we get to listen to the user, but we now have the privilege of hearing the conversation on the other end -aint it wonderful?

naftali camiel said...

Its not only cell phones.Its an overall barrage of things that keep us distracted and disconnected.