Falling for the Slick Advertising

Aug. 14, 2009

I come to you today, hat in hand, head hung low in shame.
   Here I am, humble before you, asking forgiveness! I am a fallen Luddite; a traitor to all I have professed to hold dear for all these years and hundreds of thousands of words on these pages and elsewhere.
   For I have, I am forced to admit, ordered a cell phone.
   As I fall to my knees to beg mercy, I must also add I ordered a “gosh-wow” cell phone.
   Thumb-screws. The rack. The guillotine. You name it, I deserve it. I fell for it. I fell for the slick advertising.
   I hereby renounce my status as an eccentric. Resign my position as the shunner of all things overtly technological for the sake of technology. I am, as it were, a fallen old fuddy-duddy.
   As you know, I have been shopping for a phone to replace my puppy-chewed, pond-dunked old flip-phone, which has begun to refuse input from the 3 and now the 9 buttons. All I wanted was a basic phone to get me by, that would ring, allow me to communicate with someone else, then hang it up and let it rest on my hip without being a nuisance.
   But I fell for it. In the process of all the shopping, the big, bold orange letters proclaiming FREE! were, in the end, too much to bear.
   I had no interest in a “mail-in rebate.” What a dumb idea. They do that, you know, because they are betting that most people won’t bother to even mail in the rebate, therefore they pocket the cash you paid up front. Well, forget that. If you want to put the phone at a discount rate, do it up front, I say. Anything else is hocus-pocus.
   What I wanted was FREE! In the end, I didn’t even stand my ground on that, and paid a pittance for the phone because none that were FREE had the single thing I wanted. You have to wonder, in the same vein as a rebate, how they can give you a $300 phone for $29 with a contract renewal. Either the contract is overpriced, or the phone is truly $29 at their cost. And we disdain the military for paying hundreds of dollars for a toilet seat.
   I don’t even remember what kind of phone is now on its way via parcel post to my doorstep. Mattel, or Tonka, something like that. Maybe Milton Bradley, I dunno. But I added it to my cart, signed up for another two years of service from my provider, pressed the final button to seal the deal, sign the treaty, then promptly walked outside and beat my head against a very hard tree.
   So I can tell you little about it, except that it has a touch screen and a keyboard that slides out from the side. That was the single thing I wanted, the keyboard. That’s what got me, because my mind started playing tricks on me, and my eyes were allies to the brain.
   As I perused the list of features on this phone, understanding virtually none of them, I am certain I read a bulleted feature that went thusly:
   “And when a hurricane comes your way, you can feel secure that when the cell phone service is down and only text messages can go through, this Whatever Model and Make It Is phone will keep you informed! No more fumbling with keys that contain up to three, sometimes four letters each! This Whatever Model and Make It Is phone has a FULL keyboard, allowing you to type and send your text messages virtually at the speed of light even in 200 mile per hour winds and blistering rain!”
   But you know, after I made my order, I went back to read over all that again, and somebody had deleted it from the Web site. How ya figure?
   So it’s on the way. I remember when I got my first computer. It was a Commodore 64. Took me weeks to figure out how to do anything at all, which on a Commodore 64, was very little to begin with. Eventually I upgraded to a Packard Bell with a 486 process and 16 megabytes of RAM. The learning curve almost sent me to an institution, and that company’s product quality didn’t help matters. They called them “Packard Bell” because the name “piece of junk” was already taken.
   I suspect I am in for the same treatment when my new phones come in. You can also expect me to be irritable and cranky. And I swear, if that little contraption actually gets a signal inside Kisatchie National Forest, I’m throwing it off a bluff into the river.
   However, I do have to give myself credit for one stroke of genius against the villainous service providers and their slick advertising.
   This phone does email, Web access, multimedia messages and a whole bunch of other things, all the “gosh-wow” stuff. All the slick stuff they got me with.
   But I taught ‘em. I showed ‘em. I ordered the phone, but kept my same service plan, you know, the one without any of those services included! Therefore, all the bells won’t ring and whistles won’t blow! It has a 3-megapixel camera, but I won’t be able to send my photos to my computer, so I don’t need it.
   So you see, I may be dumb, but I ain’t stupid.