When I returned from Australia this past December, I didn't know what I'd be doing. My life plan had as much direction and ambition as a blind sloth. When my mom insisted that I get a phone so I could live like a real human being, I considered it. When she offered to pay for it, I deliberated my options.
After three minutes of Internet research, I was flustered and perplexed. I hadn't searched for anything online in months and the myriad of pop-ups I encountered distracted me to no end. Within thirty seconds, I had accidentally clicked a pop-up and was reading about Viagra. Upon reading that Viagra doesn't cause an erection when there is no sexual desire, I realized what I was reading, screamed "for the love of God!" and settled on the first phone that appeared on my screen: a Prepaid cell phone through AT&T. When it arrived in the mail, I tore open the package giddy to join the twenty-first century again. The phone was large, blue and silver, and elliptical. It looked like it belonged on a space shuttle in the 1970's.
After two weeks, I became disenchanted with my space shuttle phone. It didn't look anything like a real phone, and I became a subject of mockery for all of the technologically advanced six-year-olds running around with iPhones. My primary frustration, however, was that my space shuttle phone didn't work. I was living in Santa Rosa, in northern California, and I barely got service. I would sit in my office discussing the economy and the number of distressed properties with a potential client and my phone would cut out.
When I called AT&T to politely inquire why my phone calls disconnected thirty-eight times a day (I was a Realtor, I talked on the phone a lot, okay), they reviewed the coverage area.
"If you're within one and a half miles of the 101 freeway, you should have good coverage. The rest of the area doesn't look so good," I was told.
"I'm looking at the goddamn freeway out my window right now!" I insisted. "It's probably a fifth of a mile away, and I'm talking to you on the office phone because my cell phone won't make calls." I knew it wasn't the representative's fault that AT&T had shitty coverage. "Just reposition the goddamn satellites or something!" I said passionately. I didn't scream. She still hung up on me.
By April, my mom had had it with AT&T. We disconnected her AT&T iPhone and my AT&T space shuttle phone, and my mom bought us both Verizon iPhones. I was ecstatic over my iPhone. It didn't drop calls and it even took pictures (space shuttle phone didn't). My mom was not so enthused. Somehow her new Verizon iPhone magically uploaded her contact list from five years before. When she tried to rectify the situation, her AT&T iPhone erased her current address book contents and uploaded her contacts from five years before. She owned two iPhones with outdated address books. This was not ideal for a Realtor. After hours on the phone with Verizon, and directing profanity at her new phone on a daily basis for two weeks, it was too much for her. She couldn't take it. My mom went to Bora Bora and Tahiti on vacation for three weeks. For reasons that are beyond me, she left her new Verizon iPhone in a bathroom drawer and took her inactive AT&T iPhone with her. Two hours later, I received a frantic voicemail from an unknown number. It was my mom calling from the airport to say that she'd left her phone on the bus. I sighed and a few days later I picked up the phone from the bus station office and placed it in her car's glove compartment.
My mom returned three weeks later, arriving the day before Mother's Day. It was the first Mother's Day in three years that I had been in the same country as my mom. It was also the first Mother's Day in eight years that I wasn't hung over and feeling like death.
She called me on Mother's Day from my sister's phone to tell me that her phone didn't have service.
"Call Verizon," I told her.
"I don't want to go through this again, where I don't have contacts or text messages or my voicemails or notes," she cried.
My mom, brother and sister were supposed to pick me up at 11:30am. By 1:30pm, Mom was still on the phone with Verizon and Apple. I was still at the place I rented. I decided to drive to her house anyway. When I walked in, mom had her head in her hands and was staring at the kitchen counter, dejected and beyond comfort.
"Look, someone tried to break into the iPhone case," she told me wearily, pointing at the case.
"That doesn't make any sense. Why would someone break into the case? It takes two seconds to remove it," I replied and looked at the phone.
"Wait, Mom, that's your old phone. That's why the case is all scratched up. That's your AT&T phone. It's not going to have service because we cancelled that service last month."
She had been on the phone on Mother's Day for four hours trying to get Verizon service on an AT&T phone.