Yeah. I suppose I could have went with a different “Verizon” pun, but the only other option was “Deepwater Verizon,” which actually seemed to be in pretty horrible taste. So we’re going with comparing upgrading phones through Verizon to the movie “Event Horizon.” If you haven’t seen it, I’ll wait. Go ahead. Watch it and come back.
Okay. First off, sorry. You watched that movie, and I sort of had something to do with it. For that, I apologize. Second off, yes. That was more or less what it was like to get a new phone.
And it all began with a tiny, almost inaudible pop.
I didn’t hear this pop, mind you. But I like to think it happened. Because while most people have some sort of epic story about how they destroyed their phone, that’s not the case here. The phone in question was sitting comfortably on a desk in a room that was very hot but otherwise quite pleasant. And the screen just cracked. I realize that sounds like a lie, but it’s not. Trust me. That’s the sort of lie a three-year-old comes up with to explain why the vase in broken. I’m much better at lying.
I was later told that it happened to older phones sometimes. If they’re left sitting in a room that’s too hot and you flip on the air conditioning, their screens can’t handle the shock. Either way, my phone was left with a rather noticeable crack down its center. The most important thing to note here is that this is the high point of the story.
At first, I thought I could just deal with it. After all, I was already “really, really old phone” guy. How bad could it be to be “broken screen phone” guy, too?
The answer is “relatively bad”…unless I actually wanted to use the phone.
“Y’ai’ng’ngah Yog-Sothoth h’ee-l’geb f’ai throdog uaaah…”
Also, the crack was slowly transitioning from a minor annoyance to a full-fledged gateway to a dark world. It was only a matter of time before the screen broke entirely and went dead. That, or black, wispy tendrils started emerging from the crack amid the faraway wailing of children and the faint scent of burning sulfur.
Either way, I’ve had worse excuses to go get a new phone.
Since I like to avoid people when buying things, my go-to move with any purchase is to just go online. But I stopped inside a physical Verizon store first just to get an idea of the total bill. There, I took a few models for a test run and picked out an affordable, sleek-looking smartphone. From there, I went home to order it online with zero complications.
Nope. You can only order for store pickup between 8am and 5pm. Otherwise I’d have been waiting about forty days (really) to get it by mail. As I was pretty sure I’d started hearing dark whispers from my old phone about an Old God at the bottom of the ocean stirring from its slumber, I decided waiting over a month was probably out of the question.
See? That’s probably killing my data plan.
So I waited until the next morning and…
Nope. Now the phone was on “back order.” And for whatever reason, phones not available online wouldn’t allow you to pick them up from a store, even if the store had them. When I asked customer service why this was the case, she explained that their site was essentially completely broken. Reassurances notwithstanding, I decided to go into the store that weekend to pick up my new phones.
Nope. The phone I wanted wasn’t available at the largest store in the area. The manager said it might be available locally but my best bet was to buy an entirely different phone. You know, without any research – an excellent policy for major purchases.
On my way out the door he sighed and admitted that a local store had at least two left. I asked if he could check again but he assured me he’d just spoken to them. And since I still retained my faith in humanity at this point, I actually believed him.
As it turned out, though, no. That store said they hadn’t even spoken to the manager in question recently. “But,” I was told with a wink, “I’ve got something pretty similar.” It turns out it was a phone made by an entirely different company using a different operating system, in the newest generation of phones and not even remotely on sale in any way. “It’s the last one. Must be your lucky day.”
(Then, for emphasis, he began rolling a coin along his knuckles to show me he was the honest sort.)
At which point I explained I needed two, because I was upgrading both my phone and my wife’s at the same time. He fumbled through an explanation before saying he just remembered seeing another one in the back. In any event, I wasn’t there when he came back.
Luckily, I knew for a fact that there were three or more of the phones I wanted at the first store I visited, where I’d picked the phone in the first place. It was completely out of my way, but at least I’d be done with the ordeal, right?
Would it surprise you if my answer was “nope,” or some variation thereof?
We got through the majority of the upgrade process before the salesperson remembered they’d just sold the last two phones. Oops. “But fear not!” I was told. “I have something you’ll like even better…”
Would it surprise you if she showed me the most expensive phone they had? Nay, the most expensive phone ever crafted by mortal hands? Because that’s pretty much what happened.
From there, it was pretty much the same at all the major retailers. Wal-Mart would have been happy to switch me over to T-Mobile. Also, they didn’t have any of the phones I wanted. Also also, they didn’t have any phones in the Samsung line at all. But they were more than willing to hook me up with a new iPhone not on sale for $699. Oh. And they only had one, so I’d have to split my phone plan between two carriers.
“Where we’re going, you won’t need iPhones…”
At Best Buy they kept me waiting half an hour just to explain they didn’t have any phones except the latest generation, and only some of those. The online deal that was the only reason I went there was actually for a store over 250 miles away. And the guy spent the better part of ten minutes trying to convince me that I was better off in the long run buying the newest phones at full price and upgrading at least once a year.
By the time I got to Target (literally the last place in the area that exchanged currency for goods and services), my expectations were pretty low. I don’t have a joke for Target, because they actually had the phones I wanted, on sale for two cents. Total.
Beating the next-lowest price by the GDP of a small country.
On the plus side, I’m happy with my new phone. And the whispers in the Black Tongue did stop coming from my old phone when it was deactivated. Then again, I don’t remember hearing them since about three hours into my (mis)adventures in buying a new phone.
I’m wondering if the dark things from that forgotten place gazed out through the rift and saw something darker then their own black kingdom in our world. I wonder if they stared into the light here. And in the process of upgrading cell phones, in that light, they realized that the deepest shadows exist not in spite of the light…but because of it. Perhaps the moral here is…wait. Hold on.
Seriously? This thing is a pedometer and a remote control for my TV? Awesome.