5 Nightmarish Realities Of Replacing Your Phone
Last week I dropped my cellphone and the screen shattered. Here's a picture to prove that I'm not lying to you and that this really happened.
Has trust been established?
My journey from phonelessness to re-enphonification took just hours of time, but the true cost was to my soul. In a way, I died that day. Let me count the ways.
When Your Cellphone Breaks, You Have To Replace It Immediately
The moment I realized that my phone's screen was not just shattered but unresponsive, I knew that every task I had written down for that day had to be rescheduled. It was, after all, Friday, which meant that the next two days were Saturday and Sunday (that's how days work), when it would be far more difficult to get a phone replaced or fixed. I couldn't take the risk of going a full 72 hours without a phone, and I couldn't live with the stress of putting it off even a few minutes. I had to fix this now.
"Stephanie!" I cried. "Clear my schedule!"
"My name's not Stephanie, and I don't work for you. Now, if you'll excuse me, bro,
I'm going to go back to enjoying the feeling of this mossy wall."
I get that not all of you can relate to this. Some of you are saying that it's easy to go a few hours or even some greater length of time without a cellphone, because you're resourceful enough to rely on your wits and wiles and wherewithal. That's very good for you, I guess, but I don't see how that helps us dummies. Some of us have trouble handling the stressors of the world without our pocket-sized robot buddies, and we have all the same rights to life as you, OK? So back the fuck off before we start tweeting about you.
But the biggest problem with not being able to solve problems until I replaced my phone was that I didn't know how to solve that first big problem (the phone one). Do you know where your nearest Verizon store is? I don't, because I never bothered to store that information in my brain because I figured I could just look it up on my phone. I tried asking someone for directions, but they just gave me a weird look -- or maybe just a totally normal look, I couldn't tell, because I haven't needed to interpret a stranger's facial expression since the day I got my first smartphone six years ago. Why ask for directions when I can Google Map something? Why have an original thought when I can read a think-piece on the toilet? Why ask for the time when I can just say, "OK, Google, what time is it? OK, Google, what time is it? OK ... eghum. OK GOOGLE. WHAT TI- OK ... is the light supposed to come on?" and then just give up and look at the clock?
Somehow -- don't ask me how -- I made it from the elevator in the parking garage (where I broke my phone) to my work computer, and I started researching my next move. There was just one problem.
Tech Reviews Are Written For People Who Are Not Me
There are only two questions I ask before I buy a new piece of technology. First, does it do the stuff I want? Second, does it have a bunch of expensive parts that I don't need? It seems simple, but I have never in my life been able to get those questions answered. For example, when I started researching new replacement phones, I started with the LG G4, which is the sequel to my phone, the LG G3. I guess. This is what the reviews told me.
"The firm has stuck with a 5.5in screen size and a Quad HD resolution (1440 x 2560) ... and offers a high pixel density of 538ppi. It's not the same panel though as LG has fitted its new IPS Quantum Display."
Every single word is either an obscure technical specification ("538ppi") or a meaningless marketing term ("Quantum Display"). Or, like, a conjunction. Or a pronoun. Or whatever type of word "the" is. All I want to know is "how many PPIs does it take before I'm not the only guy in my group of friends who doesn't have cell service?" If your answer is, "Ha, you idiot, PPIs have nothing to do with that at all," then why are you talking about them at me? I explained the rules, fucknugget. Other reviews blabbed on about the G4's leather back. That information seemed no more relevant.
The only "leatherbacks" I care about are baby turtles (I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was a kid).
This doesn't apply to just phones -- I ran into this same issue the last time I was trying to buy a personal computer. Since I use my personal portable computer only for writing and leaving crude threats on celebrity Facebook pages, I decided that the Acer Chromebook 11 at $180 was right for me. And I'm happy with that purchase, because my Chromebook's battery lasted all the way through an eight-hour car ride and the screen is bright enough to see in direct sunlight. But instead of just explaining that, the reviews say stuff like, "A Chromebook isn't a computer-purchasing decision -- it's a lifestyle choice."
I spend more time with my computer than with my friends, I've typed more words than I've spoken, and I've forgotten the color of the sky and the feel of wind against my face, but listen to me: Saying that the brand of computer you use determines your "lifestyle" is demented. At the end of the day, it's a box with lights that does what you tell it. You can still bend it to your whim. The machines have not yet won.
I understand that there's nothing wrong with owning these devices as pieces of flair, but surely there are other people who just want functioning technology, right? Are we forced to get our research done on the street?
The Streets Are Not For Me Either
My friends and girlfriend and cat (if I'm high enough) will often ask me to stop spending so much time staring at my phone/computer/TV and actually look at the world, but have any of you done that recently? The world is awful. It's loud and garish and far too bright, and people glare at you like you're a poor person if you ask them for directions. So steer good and clear of that mistake and click on over to Page 2 to see how my journey ends.
Tech Customer Service Is A Tangled Nightmare Riddle
I visited six different stores in three hours.
Store the First was a Verizon store. I explained what I needed and was told someone would help me in 20 minutes. Then someone helped me, and after I explained my problem said, "Well, here are the phones we have for sale," gesturing to a massive wall of thousands of angry cellphones. I explained what I needed in a cellphone ("I want a cheap one"), and she said, "Well, we sell a lot of this one," and handed me a $700 phone that had come out just weeks earlier. I asked what was so special about it, and she shrugged and said that I could probably figure it out if I researched it on the Internet. "OK, thanks," I said, and left, walking to the Verizon store two blocks away.
Store the Second had another 20-minute wait time. Then, when I finally got help, the guy explained that my phone wasn't totally broken! Only the outer-shell of the screen had shattered; the inner-bits were totally fine, and this place down the street could fix it for like $50 to $100! Happy day! I kissed my benefactor on the cheek and dashed further down the street to ...
Haha, check out the face this stock model is making. I love you, Getty Images.
Store the Third explained that they could fix the screen, but they had to replace the whole thing, not just the front part like the Verizon Man (the official store that had actually sold me the phone) had insisted. Also, it was going to cost several times what Verizon Man said. But this other place down the street might help me.
Store the Fourth didn't work on my kind of phone. But this other place down the street might be able to help me.
Store the Fifth didn't have the part, but this other place down the street might be able to help me.
What you have to understand about Store the Sixth is that, by the time I reached it, I was in an utterly unfamiliar part of town and had been walking for half my work day. The other thing to understand about Store the Sixth is that it is a witch dungeon, reeking of strange concoctions and bubbling freely with the turgid thrum of euro-pop. The man behind the counter was an actual I-shit-you-not-motherfucker goblin, with pale yellow eyes and a voice like a strangled kitten.
This isn't true at all, of course, I'm just being racist. He was a very nice man with a bit of a comb-over and a toothy, harmless smile. Still, though, the store had neon lights and hand-drawn signs and not a single "Verizon Certified!" sticker to be found. Could I really trust him with my fancy device? The one whose hard drive was packed with a veritable cornucopia of dick pics?
The answer was "yes, totally, you idiot," because ...
Nothing Is What It Seems (That's A Cliche, But Seriously, It's Not)
The motherfucking "cellphone repair shop," which I have spent literally every moment of my existence assuming was a scam, fixed my phone, in an hour, for like a hundred stinking dollars. The most stressful part of the entire process was working up the courage to leave the phone with them. And that's when I realized:
It's not the phones that are the problem. It's not the technology. It's the greedy fucking companies. So here's my new rule for everything telecom related: The more official it looks, the more likely it is to fuck your ear off. And not in the good way.
It's not cool to talk about how much money you make, but if you were to divide my adult life into two broad chapters, Chapter 1 would feature a lot of ramen noodles and expired cheese. Then something big changed and Chapter 2 filled up with elephant-tusk chandeliers and a car with a six-CD changer. Back in the Ramen Chapter, when I needed to buy a new cellphone I always went with the cheapest, out-of-datest, second-handiest bullshit I could find. It was always a crapshoot: Sometimes I'd get something made of pure dogshit, like the Eris, and sometimes I'd luck out and snag myself a refurbished Incredible.
"The HTC Incredible: The only phone I've ever tried to fuck." -- JF Sargent
But the last time I needed a new phone, I looked up at my ivory light fixture and thought, "Fuck that. I have six different Nirvana CDs in my car right now, and that includes two copies of In Utero, because Nirvana didn't even release six studio CDs. I'm buying a fancy phone so I don't have to deal with cheap phone bullshit ever again." So I forked over a wad of cash the size of a Christmas ham and called myself owner of a very shiny, very expensive G3 Monstrosity. A mechanical marvel with a screen like a plasma TV and a quad-whatever "Speed-Fucker 6000" processor and like seventeen dicks hanging off it. And you know what?
There is no real life difference between my old-fashioned budget bullshit and my new hotness. The G3's battery life is no better, largely because of that huge stupid fucking screen. It is no more resistant to the four fatal feet between my hands and concrete than my old shit-bag phone. It even has weird, quirky design flaws: If I hold the phone against my face wrong, it'll often just hang up for no goddamn reason. My personal theory is that it's so impressed by my beard and wit that the goddamn device faints -- and I'll tell ya, I get enough of that kinda behavior from dames. The one thing I've learned is that it doesn't matter how much money you throw at your cellphone company, because they're not in it for the money. No, it is your fury that feeds them. Your impotent rage that powers their world engines. Your grit-worn teeth and pulsing, bleating arteries that fuel their dark works.
But enough about me. I would like to show you something. Don't look at it too long, lest its dark magicks ensnare you.
Avoid that sign like the plague, for it is the harbinger of sorrow. People on internet forums might convince you otherwise, but make no mistake: the difference between conducting your cellular business at an "official corporate store" and an "authorized retailer" is the difference between buying drugs from a guy your cousin Teddy knows and buying them from the guy who hangs out outside Safeway and smells like sock-cheese. In either case, you're making a bad decision, but in the latter case you're at least not guaranteeing that your family will find you dead in a hotel bathroom.
I guess that's overstating things a bit, but you understand what I'm getting at.
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Don't worry Sarge, you were bound to have to replace your phone anyway. Check out 5 Dirty Tricks Apple Uses To Get You To Buy A new iPhone to learn your inevitable fate. But hey, it's not so bad. Soon your phone will posses the power of smell as seen in 6 Sci-Fi Technologies You'll Soon Have On Your Phone.
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