It was just after dark on December 23 when disaster struck. My cell phone broke in two.
Which clues you in right away that it was an old-school “flip phone,” the black rubber-covered model that Verizon used to give away free with a two-year contract. I’d had the phone for several years and would have been perfectly happy to use it forever, mostly because I knew how to work it.
I could make and receive calls and text messages. I knew how to store numbers in my contact list. On a good day I could figure out how to retrieve voice mails, though it seemed there were often a handful from the distant past that I had either never listened to or thought I had erased. Over the years, each of my children had tried to teach me to take pictures with the phone, but I never mastered that skill.
The best thing about the phone was that it was lightweight and small enough to fit in my pocket. And I loved the wallpaper photo, taken by my daughter Meg, of the sun setting over the pier on St. Simons Island. My son James had loaded a ringtone that was unlikely ever to be confused with anyone else’s—Elvis Presley singing his very first hit, “That’s All Right, Mama.” I smiled every time the phone rang. So did everyone who heard it.
All in all, it was exactly the cell phone I needed.
That’s why I began to fret when it started to feel a little stiff when I opened and closed it. Then it developed a creaking noise that I was pretty sure WD-40 wouldn’t fix. Not that I’m clueless enough to spray WD-40 on a cell phone. A hairline crack appeared on the hinge and seemed to grow just a little bigger every day. My dear little phone’s days were almost certainly numbered.
But I didn’t foresee it splitting apart two days before Christmas.
Good thing I’m not one of those people married to their cell phone.
Or even mildly dependent upon it. Because there’s no way on earth I was going to go near the Verizon store in Jackson Plaza on the day before Christmas.
Or the day after.
I may be old-school, but I’ve got way too much smarts for that.
If I needed a phone, I had my trusty land line, even though nobody ever calls that number unless they want to offer me a new credit card or sell me a magazine subscription or refinance my mortgage. The only real downside in having to wait to go to the phone store was spending four days worried that I’d lost all my data. Not just the dozens of names on my contact list, but every text and picture message I’d saved over the past couple of years. And let’s not forget the St. Simons sunset and Elvis.
Opinions among the cell phone sophisticates with whom I spent the holidays were pretty much evenly divided. Some were certain that all or most of my data
was retrievable. Others thought my model so antiquated that it wouldn’t allow the transfer of information to a new phone. Best to try to get all those numbers some other way.
Just to be on the safe side, I decided to try to replicate my contact list any way I could. I copied numbers from other people’s lists. I sent out e-mails asking my friends for their numbers. I posted the request on Facebook. And every time I got a response, I took a pencil and wrote the number down on a sheet of notebook paper that will never vanish into cyberspace.
Old-school. That’s me. Until I visited the Verizon store two days after Christmas. Next week, I’ll tell you what I bought.
(January 15, 2012.)