Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's Good to Hear Your Voice / You Know It's Been So Long

At any given point in my history of cell phone possession* and use, whatever handheld device I’ve had typically hailed from an era previous to whatever the current one was. If I remember correctly, my first cell — which I was stoked on, by virtue of it being a step up from a pager, until I saw dormmates’ clamshell sets upon starting college — weighed more than my wallet on payday, approximated the size of a standard Hershey’s bar, had a Nintendo Game Boy, creamed spinach-like green-and-white display, and, perhaps most hideously, was gold. Like, not yellow or goldenrod or anything, but creamy spicy mustard color with tacky sparkle flakes mixed into the paint so as to give the device the appearance of being crafted out of extremely low-quality precious metal.

And all those aesthetic complaints even pale in comparison to the fact that the phone got terrible reception, the antenna would often fall out unless properly clicked into place, and it could only receive text messages — not send them. (Can you please appreciate the horror of receiving text message after text message and not having the ability to shoot back the response of “STOP TEXTING ME YOU MOTHERFUCKER.”) In short, the Starter Phone was ugly and rendered me a veritable Helen Keller in the world of telephonic communication. I hated it.

I also had no say in the selection of what phone I got, and I didn’t have to pay for it — for reasons I’d rather not elaborate here — so I tended to not complain too much. (Well, except for the above paragraph.) But the Starter Phone seems to have set the stage for every subsequent replacement. (Both of them.) Now, both roommates’ phones play music, videos, have interfaces that look pleasant and at least approach the level of intuitive, while mine makes calls but also tries to take pictures when I want to make calls. Adjacent buttons, clumsy thumbs. It’s a tragedy.

Phone woes plummeted to a new low during my drive home today, when my device decided to stop ringing or allowing me to hear any calls, though I could still make and receive them. Even more stangely, my phone boasted being in a new mode: “Car Kit.” The hell? My phone is something you’d buy at a miniature model store? Thankfully, the final hour of my drive — which snakes up the back of Highway 25 through the hills where nobody but coyotes lives — didn’t involve the kind of collision that would necessitate a phone call for medical attention. But I was nonetheless baffled by how my phone decided to jump into “Car Kit” mode, especially when it’s menus mentioned no such function and I’d never plugged any kind of earphone-headset combo in.

Once home, I finally got to look online. It turns out that various Verizon models — including my VX5200 — have a peculiar tendency to go into Car Kit mode when they get wet. And since I did spill the slightest bit of water on my pants while driving, it would make sense that the Curse of Telephonic Crappiness would allow mine to get wet, even while being protected in my pants pocket. Aside from removing the phone’s battery and just allowing time to dry out, it seems the only way to fix the problem — which apparently results from water activating two electrified pins near the power plug and tricking it into thinking it has a headset plugged in — is this: cram tinfoil inside the power plug and move it around randomly and oh-so-unscientifically in attempt to short out the pins. Needless to say, this un-Christmassy blog post serves as a venting break before I return to trying to fit my phone for a foil condom.

* and by “cell phone possession,” i of course am referring to ownership of the device and not the device’s demonic occupation of a person’s soul, though i'm certain you must admit the latter case and does happen and frequently results in said person becoming a braying asshole.

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