I got my first cell phone when I was 15. Now, before you go having a knee jerk reaction about spoiled children getting cell phones too early in life — trust me, I’m just as appalled at all the 9-year-olds rocking Sidekicks as you are — remember that I lived in a very remote area. I went to high school about 35 miles from home, so my parents and I needed to be able to get a hold of each other. This became even more important once I started driving, as that also marked the earnest beginning of my days experimenting with recreational drugs and doing everything in my power to get laid, the latter being something which I hope to accomplish very soon.
In the 11+ years I have been a cellular user, I have had a dozen phones. I know because I just counted them on my hands and was shocked. That’s an average of more than 1 phone per year! That figure includes the prepaid Kyocera that I only had for a summer because my other phone died while I was working at summer camp, as well as the Palm Centro and LG Ally which only lasted about a month each, but even excepting those: 9 phones in under 12 years. What the hell have I been doing with all those devices? I’m not the kind of person who loses his phone. (I know a girl who literally has gone through at least 8 phones in the last year, all due to loss.) I don’t feel a constant need to upgrade (I had a co-worker once who not only had two phones at a time, but would buy a new one approximately every 2 months. That’s 12 phones a year!), and I take reasonably good care of all belongings. So, what I have been doing– eating them? Using them as legal tender? Leaving them in my pants when they go to the laundry? Since it wouldn’t be very worthwhile for me to pose this question in this particular forum unless I had an answer, I did some mental analysis, coming eventually to some glaring realizations: for one, I have never lost a phone. Ever. Hasn’t happened. Not only that, I’ve never broken one, either. I’m like the Curtis Martin of cell phones; I protect the rock. (Considering the amount of binge drinking I did in my first two years of college, that’s pretty incredible. One time one of my friends thought I was dead when he saw me passed out on the bathroom floor. He might have even been right. Kids, stay in school and just say “no.” Drinking makes you write like a seven-year-old later in life. Trust.)
Sure, I’ve had phones crap out on me over time (so long, Helio Hero and Blackberry Curve) or suddenly turn into paperweights because of an acute defect (farewell, Helio Kickflip and Palm Centro). Sometimes I’ve voluntarily upgraded just because (to my beloved Nokia 3300, for example), or been compelled to because I was changing services (enter the Helio Kickflip and LG enV2), or because I was due for one and the old guard was starting to falter (hellooo, Blackberry Curve!). But never, in over a decade of being a member of the wireless telephony community, had I ever lost a phone.
…Until Friday night. And before you ask, no, I wasn’t drunk. I may have been slightly comatose from the Five Guys cheeseburger I had just downed (so. fucking. good.), but I swear I had all my faculties about me. I kind of wish I had been hammered, because at least then I would have an excuse. As it is I’m just an idiot who completely lacks self-awareness.
On Friday evening, at approximately 9:00pm, somewhere between the World Trade Center and Battery Park, my Droid made a break for it, and appears to be out of my life forever. I can’t explain it. I had it when I left dinner, I used to get directions on the walk to the movie theater, and when I got there…nowhere to be found. I patted all of my pockets over and over, but to no avail. My Droid had gone Keyser Soze on me. Like that – poof! – it’s gone. Since I had both Prey and Lookout installed (note to Android users: I highly recommend both of these security apps), I sent the activation text message to trigger Prey and lock the phone, then as soon as I got home went on the Lookout website to try to track it down. The good news: I know my phone was somewhere in the vicinity of 38th & 2nd late Friday night. The bad news: that doesn’t actually help me retrieve it. I did the obvious move and tried calling it a few times, but to no avail. Saturday morning, I gave up the search and killed the service to the Droid, essentially turning it into a hockey puck and making it all but impossible to recover. She’s gone.
Fortunately, I’m due for an upgrade next month, but in the mean time I still need some means of communicating with the outside world. The ideal situation would just be to activate my Blackberry, which served me admirably for a year before being replaced by the Android movement. Just one problem: Blackberry doesn’t turn on. Oh right, now I remember: I replaced it because it may or may not have suffered some water damage in my backpack last summer and lingered for a few days before kicking the bucket entirely. Fuck. No Blackberry.
I have only two real options, neither of them particuarly appetizing: pony up hundreds of dollars for a brand new phone at retail, or activate my – ugh – emergency substitute phone: the janky old LG enV2. Fuck fuck fuck. I’m not kidding when I say this thing is janky. When it first came out, one of its publicized features was the dual keypad– a numeric one for dialing, and an internal one for texting. Pretty awesome feature back in the day, except now neither of those keypads FUCKING WORKS. I can’t dial phone numbers containing the numerals 7, 8, or 9 unless I open the phone up and use the internal texting keyboard. Inside, the N, M, and “OK” keys work on the basis of when they feel like it. Sometimes when I press one of them nothing happens, sometimes I inadvertently write a text message that just says “nnnn” before firing itself off to the recipient, which would be great if I exclusively used text messaging as a way to recite Master P lyrics.
For fun, I decided to look back through my old texts to see if there was anything interesting in there. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS PRACTICE. As it turns out, the end of the enV’s last stint coincided with the beginning of my relationship with my now-ex-girlfriend (how the fuck does one punctuate that properly?). It was about a month into the dating, so all the texts are the cutesy new relationship shit. Awesome. I took a walk down memory lane and got mowed down by oncoming traffic. Right about now I’m thinking I would have been better off shelling out those hundreds of dollars.
My contacts have also changed considerably over the last year and half, so while I did have numbers of random girls I had met in bars back in the spring of 2009 (Hi Erica!), messages and calls I’m receiving from people I’ve met more recently are a surprise. Who’s THIS one from? Let me see if I can figure it out from the context or by Googling the area code so I don’t have to admit I’m a jackass who dropped his phone on a pedestrian bridge!
There are some advantages, I suppose. First of all, since the piece of shit doesn’t actually do anything, the battery life is outstanding. I think it lasts like a 6 months on a charge. Plus, It gives me a chance to not be voluntarily accosted by e-mail, fantasy basketball, eBay, Facebook and Twitter 100 % of the time. As an added bonus, my Beastie Boys “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” ringtone was still intact, so I’ll definitely be rocking that for the next 6 weeks or so– you know, on the rare occasions I actually get a phone call. And I mean, I guess it allows me to be all minimalist and humble, taking stock of what’s really important and appreciating the finer things in life, aside from all this technology we’ve inundated ourselves with.
Actually, fuck that New Age-y hipster bullshit. I want my phone back. I haven’t Tweeted in 3 days and I’m getting shaky. Maybe that 9-year-old down the block will let me tweet from his iPhone real quick…