“Square One”


Just when I think I actually might have life figured out – or at least a chunk of it – some crisis pops up out of nowhere to slap me back into the patiently waiting clutches of reality and reminds me I am still a full fledged dyed in the wood card carrying idiot. When will anything get easier?

Technology was supposed to be the savior of humanity, but I’m still not sold. George Jetson’s life was never problem free, and neither is ours. I don’t know when the best time ever in history was to be alive, but my vote isn’t for now. There are still a few glitches that need ironing out.

Last Monday I reached for my cell phone to make a call, and it wasn’t working. I thought I’d forgotten to charge it, so I put it on the charger – a significant source of frustration all by itself. I could take a trip around the world with the money I have wasted replacing phone chargers I left in hotel rooms across North America in my lifetime, but I’ll save that diatribe for another day.

The cork I’m going to pop today is specifically reserved for the phones themselves. When my phone still didn’t work after an hour on the charger, my heart sank as I knew I’d have to visit the company store. Cringe. Every time I go in one of those places it ends up costing me big money.

FLIP-PHONEI took my poor little fried out phone that has loyally served me well without issue for a couple of years to the store like I was bringing a sick pet to the veterinarian. There was time and energy spent building our relationship, and I hoped it could be fixed so we could continue indefinitely.

The diagnosis came down in under thirty seconds that my phone was officially dead, and that I would need a new one. My contract happened to be conveniently up for renewal, and if I chose to renew my commitment for another two years I would be eligible to upgrade to a new model.

I didn’t want a new model, I wanted my old one to work. It had taken most of the two years I committed two years ago to learn how to change the ring tone, much less delve into the doo dads and thingamajigs all the tech heads go nuts over. I am not a tech head, I’m a soup head. Period. I don’t know and don’t care about tapping into the Russian missile launch system. I like it simple.

Too bad for me once again. The experts behind the counter made the call, and I was totally at their mercy. It’s always funny to me how whenever I exchange phones the crew at the store will gather around in a cluster to stare at my old phone like I brought in the bumper from a Model T.

Everyone gawks like it’s an antique, but I only bought it two years ago. It’s not like I dug it up on an Egyptian archaeological vacation and smuggled it back in a clay pot. I bought it at the very same store I was standing in as a matter of fact, but nobody from back then is still working there. And when I did buy it it was the latest one on the market that was guaranteed to be able to slice bread, do my taxes and cure cancer. And then when I finally got it out of the store I couldn’t get enough bars to make my first call. Excuse me for being a tad jaded. I’ve seen this movie before.

The worst of the worst is that I lost every last one of my personal contacts. Bang. Just like that, and without warning. The clerk told me since they aren’t able to power up the old phone I won’t be able to have access to the contacts and that’s just the way it is. I know I’m not the first victim of this insidious malfunction, but I am the most incensed about it. I blew two gaskets at one time, and I thought for sure the police were going to show up, but my whole life was in those contacts.

Who writes anybody’s number down now days? I sure don’t. I have to think really hard when I get asked mine! The goofy thing is, I can recite my childhood phone number to this day by heart -562-0727, area code 414. My best friend’s number was 463-4095. My first crush was 228-0314.

My sixth grade gym locker combination was 44-18-8. Hank Aaron’s birthday is February 5th, 1934. It was 14 miles from the Bat Cave to Gotham City. It’s not like I don’t remember numbers, it’s just that we’re not told it’s important. We all assume they’re safely stored away for eternity.

Unfortunately, that’s a heaping pile of flaming Poop-a-saurus, Rex. I’m here to tell you it’s like starting completely over again – only because that’s exactly what it is. Nobody told me I needed to be backing myself up, so I didn’t. That may sound laughable to most geek wads, but gadgets just aren’t my thing. I’d rather live my life for real than have my head buried inside a computer.

IPHONENow I have a brand new phone, but I am not able to call anyone on it because I don’t have any numbers. Well, check that. I sent an email to as many contacts as I could locate and now I have hundreds of emails to sift through and copy their information to my new phone. My thumbs are going to have arthritis or, I may pull a thumbstring.

It’s going to take weeks if not months to get everything loaded back in, but I guess I can’t bitch all that much. My new phone is an iPhone 6, and allegedly it would have been impossible to load my old contacts anyway. I would’ve had to go through this no matter what, so what’s the point?

The point is I drove straight from the phone store to my friendly neighborhood thrift store to buy myself a good old fashioned Rolodex. I had my pick of several, and ended up scoring one that looks like it was never used for a whopping $2.99. Actually it was half price day and I got it for $1.49. I’m going to start filling that up along with my phone, and I’ll be backed up long after the Apocalypse – even though there won’t be much calling going on when life is exterminated.

Still, I am never going to let myself get screwed like this again. I had contacts on that phone I won’t get back, but maybe that’s just the universe’s way of telling me those people didn’t really like me anyway. If they want to find me, they know where I am. It’s the ultimate game of “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” in action. Now is the time to find out how important I really am. Or not.

I guess it’s not a bad idea to have a deep purge in one’s life every few years, but this one came when I was not expecting it and completely kicked me in my aspirations. I need to keep close to those contacts to get business, and now I’m going to look like an even bigger idiot having to ask them all to resend their information. I’m ready for it this time though. Paper doesn’t crash.

Dobie Maxwell is a writer and stand-up comedian from Milwaukee. Visit

Leave a Reply

Scroll To Top