I don't know where you live, but here in Chicago, we got an assload of snow dumped on us this weekend. It started on Thursday night, and there was so much snow, in fact, that I didn't even go in to work on Friday.
But that's not where this story starts. This story starts with the simple fact that on New Year's Day, I was so excited by the prospect of left-over hors d'ouevres, no work, and college football that I got drunk and lost my phone.
I knew it was in the house - I knew this very well because, during the entire course of the day, I never set foot outside. And so I didn't look for it urgently, or hurry to have the service canceled. No one had stolen it, no one was going to steal it.
But then I couldn't find it. I would look for it sporadically, every few days, each time thinking of a new spot or two that I hadn't checked. This weekend several factors aligned to get my ass in gear, so to speak. First, it had been a month, a nice round number, and I still hadn't found my phone. Second, I had just paid my cell phone bill, $65 for nothing. 0 minutes, 0 night and weekend minutes, 0 text messages - this was stupid. Third, I knew I was going to San Francisco this week, and I had to have a phone before then.
So Friday, home from work, I ventured out into the blizzard, down Lake Street to the AT&T store. Bianca greeted me from behind the desk. I have "been helped" by Bianca before, and let me tell you, she is a credit to the race of salesmen/cashiers/whatevers. She works for a company that has no problem seizing its customers by their haunches and humping them into submission, but she's polite about it. You know, she'll let you take a shower afterwards, if you take my meaning.
"I lost my phone," I told her, shaking my head and shrugging the way people do when they're saying they lost something - like there's an unspoken parenthetical, "no, really, I do not know where it is. I have lost it and do not know its location."
"Did you have insurance?" Bianca asked me. "Insurance will cover it."
"Yeah, I know. No. Warranty?" I countered.
"Sorry, the warranty only covers defective phones," Bianca said. Her pursed lips, downward tilted chin and raised eyebrows told me that she knew I knew this and that of course her company wasn't going to pay me for something that was my own damn fault.
"Well, then I need a phone," I said.
Bianca paused for a moment, then indicated the wall behind her, covered in displays of phones. "Feel free to go ahead and look arou-"
"What's the cheapest one?" I said.
She nodded knowingly, and without hesitation, seized a little Nokia off the wall. "This is the cheapest we offer," she said. "It's $199."
"Holy crap," I said.
"Mm," said Bianca.
She tried to hand it to me but I recoiled, held up my hands in protest, and slowly raised my eyes to meet hers. And in that moment, Bianca and I connected. She put the phone case back on it's hook, looked furtively from side to side and made ready to stab her masters in the back.
"You know what you could do?" she whispered. "Go across the street and buy a Go-phone from FYE, and I'll make you up a new sim card that you can stick in there. It'll be like, fifteen bucks."
I didn't know whether to trust her or not. Part of me was sure it was a vile trick. But a bigger part of me (it was my left thigh and buttock) wanted a phone for less than $200. I refined the deal. "Make me the sim card now," I growled, "and then I'll see about FYE."
Bianca hesitated. She looked from my face to the screen in front of her, down the hall, and back to me. "Ok," she said finally, and began typing furiously.
Two minutes later, I was out the door and on my way to FYE, sim card tucked in my back pocket, snug against the buttock that had insisted on its purchase.
I pulled open the front door, and did the standard "pretend-I-know-what-I-want-and-where-it-is-so-just-start-walking-toward-the-back-of-the-store" bit. Then I stared at some indie-adult-off-pop album with a woman holding a snake and a wheelbarrow handle for a while, looking out of the corner of my eye for go-phones and trying to look like I wasn't looking for anything.
After five minutes or so of fruitless undercover searching, I decided to go ask for help, and wouldn't you know it, the go-phones are housed up at the register with the gum and cheap magazines. There was one guy in front of me in line, standing with his two sons, about 6 and 8.
The guy stuttered when he got to talk to the cashier, despondent and devoid of all but the most desperate hope. "Do you have any Wiis?" he said.
"Actually, yes!" the clerk announced. "We just got three! They're probably going to be gone in half an hour."
The guy in front of me was psyched. He literally jumped into the air and shouted "yes!" and then grabbed his kids and started shaking them. "They've got it, guys, they've got it!" he yelled. The kids started whooping and jumping up and down. The older one grabbed an Indiana Jones Special Edition box set and swapped his brother across the head with it. They were excited.
While the dad looked at which extra controller to buy and the younger brother nailed the older one in the groin with a display sign, a second clerk stepped up to the next register and asked me to come over.
I put down my go-phone, waited for a second and a half while she picked it up and said, 25% seriously, "I should probably get a Wii, too."
She laughed, and I laughed. It was a pretty good joke. "Do you want one?" she said, 30% seriously.
"Hey, might as well, right?" I said, 34% seriously.
She picked one up from behind her 36% seriously and set it on the counter 37% seriously. "What do you think?" she said, 42% seriously.
I patted it 47% seriously, and thought for a minute. I don't even play video games. This was retarded. Wasn't it? Wasn't it? "I'll take it," I said, 51% seriously.
Unfortunately, this majority vote was all the clerk legally needed to beep it, swipe my credit card and stuff it in a bag. As my receipt printed, I looked over her shoulder at the last Wii perched on the shelf. "Maybe I should buy the last one, too," I said, 9% seriously.
"Do you want to?" she asked, 55% seriously.
The sudden jump was too much for me. "No, of course not," I said. "What would I do with two?" Well, really, what will I do with one? It's sitting on my floor, still in its box. If anyone wants it, I'll give it to you for $350 plus shipping. 95% seriously.
That night, there was a birthday party for my cousin, where I told everyone about my best impulse purchase ever. A few other interesting things happened, too, but we'll save those for another time.
Saturday, I watched twelve episodes of Lost. I'm planning on being caught up by the next new episode.
And then Sunday, the Giants beat the Patriots in the best Super Bowl I ever remember. Can you ask for a better weekend?
Notes in summary:
The go-phone thing really does work. If you ever lose a phone and don't need a fancy camera-music-touchscreen phone, get a go-phone and switch the sim - you get minutes, text and internet and reconnected with your regular plan.
I'll let you know how the Wii situation works out. I might see if I can get more than I paid on ebay. Any ideas? Anybody want to buy it?
Lost is the most aggravating show to watch, by far. I'll get more into this later.
The Giants really deserved it. Beating the Cowboys and Packers on the road, then beating the undefeated Pats? Good enough in my book.
Beware of the escalating-percentage-seriousness phenomenon. I thought I had shaken it after it led me to snort Vitamin C and almost get engaged, but now I have a Wii. And not the Wii-est idea what to do with it.