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I have joined the Borg

No, I haven't registered Democrat again (if I do that you are welcome to take me out and shoot me as I will have become useless), I went and bought a cell phone. It occurred to me that all the wandering about town I do on buses and on foot -- and Orlando has become a large city, with a growing crime problem -- it might be a good idea to have a cell phone for emergencies. So I bought one of those prepaid plans and put some minutes on it. I can't believe how cheap cell phones have become -- I paid less than twenty dollars for the Virgin Mobile "Oyster," a pretty neat little clamshell thing. Sure, I can't take blurry pictures on it (no camera phone, like I need such a thing) but it has all the other things -- color screen, stupid ringtones, etc. The default ringtone is this weird lounge-y tune, but we are talking about Virgin here. Which mobile service is obviously geared towards teens who want to be trendy but are still under mama's and daddy's bank accounts; the website for the account features images of teenage girls sticking their tongues out, yuck. But on the whole, not bad for about sixty bucks (what it cost to buy the phone and add a nice amount of minutes on it.) And now I have another toy to lug around.

Comments (10)

Is the sixty bucks the total outlay, or is there a monthly pay-us-whether-you-use-it-or-not fee also? It was the latter that kept us from getting a phone when we went on our vacation. (That and the coverage maps showing big gaps in most of the places we were going.)

Annalucia [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I have a Virgin Mobile phone too, one of their rock-bottom basics. I got it because a couple of times last year my son was feeling sick in school, and the school couldn't reach me (I was running errands) and calling my husband wasn't much use because he works in a distant suburb. So I keep it for emergencies, though it's also useful for calling taxis when you're away from home. It won't work in the subway for some reason, but so far it's worked everywhere else.

David, I have a $20-every-three-months plan - they add $20 every time the phone gets low, or every three months even if I don't use it at all. Not an onerous expense, and definitely worth it for my purposes.

And yes Andrea, they're definitely geared to the teen market. I get these email announcements of special offers and such, and I'm not even sure they're written in English.

What Annalucia said. I set mine up to take fifteen bucks from my credit card if the balance drops below five dollars or every ninety days, whichever comes first, but you can set up your account to be "topped up" whenever you want to instead.

I forgot to say -- the previous cell phone account I had was the regular monthly fee -- almost forty dollars a month for a phone I maybe used once a week, if that much. A waste of money. This is a pay-as-you-go plan that suits my needs better; also, no credit check or any of that sign-up-for-two-years contract nonsense.

Steve Skubinna [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Did the phone come with a free Bratz doll?

I have a cell phone at the insistence of my parents, who like to be able to contact me in an emergency, or just to see how I'm doing. It's on their family and friends plan so I guess it's a good deal. I don't use it very much.

Also, it's the least cool cell phone in the world. It's not quite as large as a brick, but it's no Chiclet. It doesn't take photos or video, it doesn't do text messaging, it won't surf the web, I can't send or receive e-mail on it, and it doesn't store and play mp3s. All it does is make phone calls. Plus it isn't translucent or pastel colored.

Tres lame, huh? But it works. And it makes my parents comfortable. And it is handy when you need it.

No Bratz doll. (Too bad. I wanted to see what would happen if you put one in a microwave. Kidding! Maybe.) But the buttons do have this cool Star Trek-y font.

Hey, I like Star Trek. The Original Series only. Shut up.

Steve Skubinna [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Microwave? No way... stick an M80 inside it and, uh...

Never mind.

I can no longer imagine handling a family outing without a cell phone to call to find out what where in this huge children's museum the responsible adult is, and does she have any of the kids with her.

I keep finding new things to do with a mobile phone. Like calling a company's 800 number to ask questions whilst standing in the store thinking about buying their product. But I tend to be more inhibited than my children, who will use a phone rather than a doorbell.

If you have text-messaging on your phone, remember that those can often get through when voice lines are jammed during a disaster...

Annalucia [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I have no idea if I have text-messaging or not. When my daughter comes home on spring break, I'll have her take a look at the thing and tell me.

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Don't worry, he's just chopping broccoli.


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