My husband and I share a passion for saving money. My favorite bargain-hunting pastime is going to the local thrift shops (there are three within 15 minutes of my home) and paying a mere six dollars for jeans that would otherwise have cost me $69.50...or four dollars for a shirt that would have cost me $40. I call it the "thrill of the hunt."
My husband, however, gets his kicks by shopping around endlessly for the best price on any service known to man. While I don't have the patience for such lengthy endeavors, he will spend hours on the internet, researching the cheapest cell phone plans, the least expensive power providers, and the washer and dryer that will cost us the least in energy over a ten-year period.
He even recently signed us up for a program where the power company turns off our air conditioning periodically during the hottest parts of the day to save on electricity. I objected to this proposition on principle, due to the fact that ever since having children I've been perpetually hot -- in the summertime I turn into a cranky, sweaty, sloppy mess that practically requires a strap-on air conditioner in order to function. He insisted, though, claiming that this plan would save us up to sixty dollars a year.
My hubby is particularly stubborn in the area of electronic gadgetry. Over the years, I have watched as my friends purchased first the Palm Pilot, then the Blackberry, then the iPhone or the Android... the iPad, and scores of other electronic gadgets that help them keep track of their lives. I have sat at dinner with my mouth agape, observing them as they watched videos on their phones and texted without missing a beat of the conversations around them.
I have always felt left out of this exclusive club, as I've always sported the phone that was hot four years prior, but now comes free with the purchase of a two-year contract. I remember being so excited when I got my first Motorala Razr -- my sister had had one three years before and had since upgraded twice.
I awarded myself the title of "World's Crappiest Texter" after repeated incidents of being bombarded with numerous rapid-fire texts from someone, all of which interrupted my panicked efforts to complete a simple response to the first message received. Feeling left out and completely incompetent, I comforted myself by adopting my husband's disdain towards "texters." I frequently spouted my dislike for the practice of texting at dinner, texting while having a face-to-face conversation with someone, or just texting in general. "It's destroying our ability to relate to each other!" I would exclaim, full of righteous indignation.
Nevertheless, I couldn't help but feel like I was starting to be left behind. My friends all seemed to be having conversations that I wasn't a part of, and I had to admit that I thought their new phones were pretty neat. So, for Christmas, I asked my hubby for a new phone. I said I wanted one with a keyboard -- one that could use "apps."
He surprised me with a sleek black phone that looked a lot like the Blackberry he uses for work. I was thrilled... until I realized that it only looked like a Blackberry. It was actually a very cheap imitation, and he had shopped around on the internet for some no-name provider that only cost $30 a month, leaving me with a whopping 2 megabytes of data I could transmit per billing period. The first time my friend tried to send me a picture, my phone refused it, gave me an error message, and locked up.
Not wanting to appear ungrateful, I smiled and tried to make do with the new phone. It was a disaster. My phone wouldn't let me receive any pictures. It claimed it could access Facebook, but it took ten steps, an incantation and dance, and some low-level voodoo to actually log on. And after all that effort, all I could do was type my status -- it wouldn't let me see anything (probably to keep me from going over my 2 megabyte limit). This didn't do me much good, as my slow texting apparently irritated my phone to the extent that it would habitually log me out of Facebook before I would have the chance to press the "submit" button.
I suffered through this humiliation for four months, and then I began to complain. My birthday was coming up, and I wanted a smartphone. My husband objected, "But I just bought you a new phone!" he said.
"How much did it cost?" I asked.
"Um.... ten dollars," was his response. I snorted disdainfully, then promptly began my campaign to procure a better phone.
I saw the commercial for Virgin Mobile's $25 per month unlimited data plan, and I saw my opportunity! I carefully crafted a sales pitch and then proceeded to bug him about it for a month straight, and lo and behold... for my birthday in May, I finally got my smartphone -- a real Android phone!!
I threw myself into learning how to use it. I was amazed that I could push a button and Facebook would automatically open! I could see my friends' pictures and status updates! I felt like a new woman!
(This brings me to the "dumbass" portion of my post.)
I can now proudly say that I have finally learned to text. I can pull up a little keyboard on my phone, and tap-tap-tap -- a message goes out in seconds! The problem is that my shiny new phone demands a lot more attention than my old one did. My old phone spent its days and nights snoozing quietly in the dark recesses of my purse, not bothering anyone. In contrast, my new smartphone lounges self-importantly on the kitchen counter, constantly asserting its superiority by chirping away merrily every other minute. And it's next to impossible not to check what's it's carrying on about!
Last night my husband was kindly putting my son to bed, and I was downstairs feeding my 17-month-old daughter a bedtime snack. My phone began to chirp. I picked it up to find that a friend of mine had texted me a question, so I set to work on answering. Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in typing the message that I didn't notice my daughter, who had chosen that exact moment to climb onto the end table and reach inside the lampshade to explore.
I heard a bloodcurdling screech, dropped the phone, and saw my poor daughter holding her wounded hand and screaming in agony. She had grabbed the light bulb and burned her little paw. I then had to explain to my husband that our daughter had hurt herself because I was texting. Oh, how the righteous had fallen.
We set to work trying to comfort her, and after two hours and a lot of crying, she finally went to sleep. There was no major damage done to her hand -- it was mostly just red, but I still berated myself for the rest of the evening, vowing never again to look away from her to send a text.
In light of this unfortunate event, I am formally lobbying for the following warning message to be displayed on all smartphones upon startup... or at least on mine!