Thursday, August 19, 2004

Finally Tethered to the Wireless Umbilical

I finally broke down and got a cell phone this week. It was necessary because I borrowed the wife's phone over the weekend and the antenna nub broke off in my pocket. It was a 4 year old phone so it wouldn't have been worth fixing. Besides, with the new bairn in the house, we decided we both needed to be instantly reachable.

We ended up renewing with AT&T Wireless, even though signal coverage at our house was poor, because (i) we'd be upgrading to GSM phones, so presumably coverage would improve; (ii) with AT&T Wireless merging with Cingular, that should mean a combined network, thus more "towers" in urban areas, and (iii) when I browsed to their site from work, it sniffed out the corporate IP and offered me an employee discount, which, of course, no one at my office knew about.

We wanted a phone with no antenna this time, and decided we also wanted it to adapt to international use, in case we ever go overseas again. We went with a Nokia 3100 as the cheapest phone with those features, and found it had the added bonus of being really teeny, but with a speaker. Talking into it, I immediately learned why so people are seen shouting into their phones while walking down the street: this phone barely come down to my cheekbone, and I have to just assume there's a microphone somewhere. I practiced being less obnoxious by having a normal conversation with my 15 year old niece in the former dead zone at our house. Bless her, she still thinks I'm somewhat cool; partly because where I work in the Loop, there's a Starbucks in every block, but she and her friends have to hang out at a Starbucks booth at Target.
So now that I've become one of things I feared most, I want to publicly make these pledges about my phone use. I can't promise I won't talk on it while driving, but here are the next best things:

  • I will never stand in the supermarket meat department describing various packages of the same cuts to my wife, so she can pick one out for me. I've seen many men do that, and find it to be emasculating. If you're man enough to grill meat, you should be able to pick it out.
  • I will never attended a baseball game or other televised event and then spend the whole time on the phone to someone watching at home so I can wave like an idiot when I'm on camera. The worst offenders are, of course, Cubs fans who pay $300 to sit in the "premium" box seats behind home plate and only look up when told they're on TV. America, it's time to evolve past this "Look! I�m on TV!" fixation that keeps Jerry Springer in business.
  • And I will never act like having a cell phone makes me some kind of a bigwig. Mister, having a cell phone may have made you look like a cutting-edge VIP ten years ago, but now ghetto kids get them before their 13th birthdays. A phone in your pocket does not mean you have a big wiki-wahoo.
I'm so glad to get this off my chest. Now if you'll excuse me, I�ve got five days left on the demo of the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" game.