Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Men in Orange

So yesterday... at approximately 12:30 PM, I did it.

I drank the kool-aid.

It was Apple flavored, and it. was. awesome.

I have avoided the iPhone craze for a while now. All around me, people moved seamlessly into the Dawn of New Technology, but I dug my heels in and flat-out refused.

What in the crack was I thinking?

Okay. Here's what I was thinking.

I am afraid of technology. Not in the "old lady in your technology class who's afraid of starting nuclear winter with one wrong button push on her PC" sense of the phrase, but rather in the "the machine in the palm of my hand is sci-fi smart and that freaks my shit out" kind of way. Seriously, I have the illogical fear of technology taking over the world and not in the good way. Probably, somewhere in my nerdy past, I read some book or watched some movie about robots or cyborgs or microchip implantation that warped my brain into its somewhat paranoid state, and logically, I am aware of how idiotic it all sounds. Doesn't matter. It still exists. I even have a friend whose husband has entered robotics competitions. That's right, Dude builds robots. For fun. Or so he says. He could be building a little robot army to overthrow and enslave everyone in the Lone Star State. I mean, what do I know? I'm fairly sure that this is NOT the case because he's actually a pretty chill guy, but even still I am always sure to be extra nice to him and always laugh loudly at his jokes. (Just kidding, BB... I laugh because you're hysterical. And so that I can be second in command of the Robotics Rebellion).

Anyway... after much ridicule by my friends, students, and near strangers about my sad little flip phone, I started to re-think my position. Then... when I saw a friend of mine (who is mildly technologically disadvantaged) tooling around on her brand new iPhone, the gauntlet was thrown.

So, yesterday, I marched myself down to the mall with Faith, my tech-savvy friend and leader of the flip phone ridicule, determined to get myself a Big Girl Phone. I stood at the edge of the techno pool, breathing deep and talking down my nerves, hoping to just stick my toe in and test the waters a bit. Newsflash, peeps. That pool? It's got a few sharks in it.

Seriously... I'm pretty sure Michael and Danny ('cause, yeah, we're totally on a first name basis), the Men in Orange, were standing in the front of the AT&T store, nonchalantly discussing the weather or the World Cup or maybe their favorite brand of hemorrhoid cream, when they suddenly paused, took a big whiff and found the smell of fear and hesitation in the air.

As soon as I said the word "upgrade", their eyes lit up like Christmas. When I took out my Samsung Freebie, they didn't even attempt to stifle their out-and-out laughter. I'm sure they thought they were taking a long shot when they threw out the iPhone plan, but little did they know that their guffawing was the only sales technique they needed. Laugh at me, will you? Mock me, huh? You're gonna point out my obviously lame taste in cell phones? Do you REALLY think I'll fall for such junior high, pop psychology tactics?

Damn straight I will.

My righteous indignation cost me yet again, and this time, it cost me a pretty penny.

Danny started in with the hard cell sell, and he knew just what he was doing. He hit me, Ali-style, with some "extended warranty", "data package", "rebate" kind of talk. Numbers swirled around me, and the percentage explanation? Get out of town. He could have been speaking Japanese to me for all I knew. Then, to top it all off, he asks me to look at the rack of shiny, multi-colored cases, and pick one. As if I wasn't dazed enough. Now I had to accessorize? I pointed to the Otter... obviously a super-expensive option... which ALL my friends had recommended, and asked him "What do you think about that one?"

I'm pretty sure he shit himself at that precise second.

"Are you kidding?" he exclaimed. And then he sprinted over to the counter, snatched up his own "personal" iPhone (which, in reality, could've been just a block of scrap wood, I was so confused), shoved it into the Otter case, held it out to me and said, "Now drop it." Was he effing for real? I started to back away, shaking my head furiously, and he, seeing the total fear in my eyes, reared back and spun that mo'fo' like some East German shotputter. The damn thing bounced -- BOUNCED, I tell you -- three times on the floor. From an 8 to 9 foot drop. Without a scratch.

The entire store's population looked at him like he'd just skipped a newborn down the escalator.

In the meantime, Michael has pulled up my home phone bill with the promise of finally taking off all the crap I've intended to remove for 3 years but have been too lazy to do so, and he is in like full-blown cardiac arrest over my cable, home phone, internet bundle. He is shaking his head, all shameful, and looking at me as if I've just been out in the backyard everyday lighting up barrelfuls of $20 bills.

Which, truthfully, I might as well have. But that's beside the point. Was I, D-effing-Nazty, going to let this chump push me around? Was I going to let him shame me into changing my cable provider, therefore forcing me to learn a whole new remote and dvr system, and rob me of all of the phone services that I was not currently using -- but might in the future?!

Damn skippy I did. Shame is my number one motivator. It gets me on the treadmill. It sends me to the dentist. It keeps me from cheating on my taxes. Shame completely works. It was like when, in those slapstick comedies, the bully waves one hand and distracts the other character's silly ass and then suckerpunches him with his free hand.

So while he's guaranteeing me a savings of almost 91 bucks a month -- and that's like $1,092 a year. I know, I just checked it on my iPhone calculator 'cause I'm too fancy for a regular calculator now -- Danny is giving me a crash course in iPhone technology, and my friend, Faith, is watching me and wondering when the next time I would actually breathe or blink would be. For real, I was staring at that dude like he'd just grown another head or announced that we were standing on the moon. Dumbstruck.

When they bring in the third guy who, by the way, wasn't even in the orange shirt, I almost backed out. I had honestly believed he was just another customer, shooting the breeze, until he started tapping out some secret codes on the computer and asking me for my social security number. He was like a Mafia boss -- always present, hardly seen. I started to wonder if any of those other customers were real, or if they were just decoys, hired to make everything seem to be a good idea. My palms were starting to sweat all over my new piece of the Apple Corporation when I heard Michael ask Faith what kind of phone she had.

"She's not even one of Y'ALL," I blurted out desperately. "She's a Sprint person!" I threw her out there like she was Frankenstein and they were some torch-wielding villagers. Other people shaming me works, but having shame for myself? Not a chance. I. have. no. shame. Not when the pressure is on. But Faith, as I stated before, is way more savvy than I, and she side-stepped their advances quite deftly.

After about 20 more minutes of sheer terror, they'd swiped my card, set up the arrival date for my Direct TV installation, made me promise to name my next pet after Steve Jobs (or Wozniak -- I guess either way, Steve, it is), and sent me on my way with a palmful of sci-fi smart. And, yes, it freaked my shit out. Twenty-four hours later, I'm still a little freaked out, but I have yet to start nuclear winter with it either. I wish we would have hidden around the corner to watch because I'm pretty sure they totally high-fived each other as I walked away.

So, if you're reading this, and chuckling to yourself, it's okay. But IF you beat me at Words with Friends, you'd better watch out because I WILL chunk my palmful of techno wizardry at your head, Naomi Campbell style, and bounce it 3-4 times off of your smart ass, vocabulary enriched noggin.

Because... oh yeah... I bought that ridiculously expensive phone cover AND the extended warranty, and I plan to get my money's worth.


  1. Crap! I suppose I'm the last one on Earth to NOT have a super saavy smart phone that I can throw on the floor. I feel ashamed. ~Saxon

  2. You should feel ashamed, Saxon. Be one of us. You'll like it. I promise. You'll like it a lot.