VIEW FROM THE PORCH - New cell phone does it all but let you place a call

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Yesterday morning I had a cell phone. I could call people on it. That was yesterday morning.

"You've got to tweet," my editor said. "And Facebook. All day long. All night long. All the time."

"But I don't like to Tweet or Facebook," I said bluntly. "I hate it. It's shameless self-promotion."

"Do you like writing books, Sam?"

"Sure."

"Do you want us to publish them, Sam?"

"Of course."

"Then you've got to sell books, Sam. To sell books you must engage in shameless self-promotion. These days that means you've got to Tweet and Facebook. It's simple."

"But my phone doesn't Tweet or Facebook, so I can't. We'll have to find another way."

"Get a new phone, Sam."

"But ... "

"No buts, Sam. Get a new phone."

New York people can be difficult.

So yesterday Annie and I took my phone to the Tri-Cities. (I can't tell you which one.)

We went to the cell phone store and told the phone people I needed a new phone -- one that Tweets and Facebooks. Annie had to go with me because she's the account holder. They weren't about to deal with anybody but the account holder.

"You've come to the right place," April said. "We'll get you all fixed up, Mr. McLeod."

April was adorable. I'm guessing 21 -- maybe 22. Beautiful smile, blonde curls, big blue eyes, dimples -- the whole deal. She was bubbly, too. She talked really fast.

April took one look at my cell phone, rolled her eyes, and threw it in the trash. She pulled a little black rectangular thing off the shelf. It didn't look like a phone.

"This is our new 14G Mega-47 WhizPixel with SimSync Sizzlers," April said.

"Is it a phone?" I asked.

"That and a whole lot more, Mr. McLeod. Look right here. Press that button."

"I don't see a button."

"Just touch right there."

"Not her, Sam. The phone," Annie said.

I touched the place on the black thing where April pointed.

"There. Wasn't that easy? You're a quick study, Mr. McLeod. So here we are at the online app store. I'm going to click on this icon and download ProShopper. See? It shows you every store within four blocks. So if you're looking for new shoes, or a place for lunch, or you need a manicure ..."

"Cool," Annie said.

"I just need a phone that Tweets and Facebooks," I said. "And I'd like to call people with it."

"See this here, Mr. McLeod? If I press this button, we get a map that shows us where we are this very minute ..."

"But I know where we are ... sort of ... which Tri-City is this anyway?"

"And this window here tells you what time it is, and the temperature, and the barometric pressure, and what constellations you can see in the sky tonight after sunset, which is at 8:17 pm."

"Cool," Annie said.

"Can you call people on it?" I asked.

"You can download your email, check for app updates, reschedule your dentist appointment, set the alarm for your afternoon nap, and there's a bell here to remind you to take your medications ..."

"Who told you I take an afternoon nap and medications?" I asked.

"Don't all old people take naps?" April wanted to know. "My granddad takes naps."

"She's got you there," Annie said.

"And here's a short movie we can watch while we buy some music, check your prostate, and order a vegetarian tofu spinach wrap. Do you want sprouts?" April asked.

"Cool," Annie said. "I'd like sprouts, please."

"How do you make phone calls?" I asked.

"And it comes with this starter kit which includes a free coffee mug, a free ProShopper T-shirt, and this cute little box of dental floss. If you purchase the 2-year nonrefundable text bundle upgrade with insurance and annual retrofit, we'll throw in a free family-size box of Stove Top stuffing mix."

"Cool," Annie said.

"Can you show me how to make a phone call?"

"Sure, Mr. McLeod, but first let's check your phone contract because if we're lucky, I may be able to offer you a discount. Let me see. Yes. We' re in luck, Mr. McLeod. With a 10-year contract not cancellable for any reason whatsoever ever, I can get you $9.99 off the purchase price of $893.99."

"Well ..."

"And, Mr. McLeod, today is the last day of the month. You'll be getting our new taser phone app -- absolutely free! Once I download it, your 14G Mega-47 WhizPixel will stun up to 10 people without recharging."

"Cool," Annie said.

"Just sign right here, Mrs. McLeod."

Annie took the pen, signed the papers in five places, and initialed everything else. (She's the account holder.)

"There. All done," Annie said. "Your phone is so cool, honey. I might have to get one myself ..."

We left the store. April put on her cutest smile and waved good-bye.

"Remember to call your doctor about that little prostate problem," April yelled from the door.

"She's sort of cute," I said.

"Bench it, Sam. She's young enough to be your great-granddaughter," Annie said. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going back into the store for a second. I forgot to ask April how to turn this thing on. Do you remember what she said about making phone calls?"

That was yesterday afternoon.

If you'd like to read more of Sam's musings on life AND order a copy of his new book BIG APPETITE, visit his website at www.sammcleod.net. You can also follow Sam on Facebook and Twitter (if he's figured out how to do that on his new phone).

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