Why is it so difficult to get a cell phone repaired?
Why is it so hard to get a cell phone repaired? I missed that day of school. The other day my cell phone wasn’t working properly. Well, let me just say that it wasn’t acting like a cell phone ought to act. I’m sure you know what I mean: this isn’t an uncommon problem in our country these days. The silly thing might’ve made a lovely centerpiece for my dining room table, but as for being used as a high-tech method for interpersonal communication, scheduler for the next two decades, video camera, and on-line personal secretary… nope. None of the above. Instead? Blank screen. System re-booting. Buttons all locked up.
Naturally I found myself thinking,
“This is not good. I definitely need Tech Support! I need someone who can explain the problem and fix it for me RIGHT NOW.” Perhaps an overworked underpaid telephone tech support guy sitting in front of a switchboard in Mumbai, India just waiting for my call!
Then I thought, “There is a place called Mumbai in India isn’t there? Or is it Bumbai?”
And then came the most important thought,
“But wait! How the heck am I gonna call Tech Support when my phone isn’t working…. Aaaaack! Oh no!”
I ran down the hall to beg my teenage daughter to let me borrow her phone. After a healthy session of parental extortion that started with “But Mommy,” and ended with “I’ll take you and all your friends for ice cream tonight!” I had in my hands, a working device for reaching the outside world.
And so I dialed India. Not intentionally of course but clearly when my call was answered in the order it was received, my assumption was correct. In half broken mum-bai-bumbly English, I learned that YES, yes, indeed this IS bad. And that yes, yes, my phone is broken and yes yes it is NOT working properly. Wow these guys are smart! At this point I was feeling a nagging sensation in the pit of my sense of humor that tells me that my irritated outlook on this is all-wrong. If I wasn’t so frustrated I am sure that I could definitely see the humor in what I’ve just been told. My new Indian friend, seemingly oblivious to the fact that I had now pulled out large chunks of my own hair, went on to tell me that he CANNOT assist me over the phone and that I must take the broken phone to a service center immediately. But it’s Sunday! Total panic. How can I live without my phone until Monday after work, which is the first possible moment I can get to the phone store to get the darned thing fixed. What will I do?
But WAIT, a larger concern: DO I work tomorrow? What AM I supposed to do tomorrow… am I supposed to BE anywhere tomorrow? WAIT? What day IS TOMORROW? I realize I’ve moved beyond frustrated cynicism into total panic. This is certainly bad. I don’t even know what day it is. I might not even know my own middle name without checking my phone! I try to calm myself and think, while rearranging some hair over the tiny bald spot that I’ve just created near my temple; think. THINK! That’s right- -deep breath- –calm myself — and think. C’mon think! Focus! Try to remember. Hmmm. My first fuzzy realization is that I’m certain I know nothing about my schedule without my palm pilot smart phone personal assistant guidance counselor, on-star, scheduling GPS! Second thought: I certainly don’t know where I’m supposed to be tomorrow because that information is quietly trapped inside my cantankerous little brand new dining room table centerpiece! Panic is setting in! I sink to my knees- Please God. What if someone needs to reach me? What if I can’t remember my social security number or the password to my bank account? Oh no, what if my father’s birthday is tomorrow? Oh dear God. I’m a mess. Wait, I can phone a friend for hel…. No. No. Nope. Cant do that now can I! Yup… it’s official. Third thought: I can’t think!
I am now beginning to realize the depth of my predicament. I’m looking at 24 hours without my cell phone. 24 hours without outside contact. 24 hours without access to the inner workings of my very own brain. Times are desperate. And to think there are some folks out there who are worried about drought and war and famine. Inner sneer. But THIS is a serious matter. I sit down. I begin to weep as I realize that my very existence is stored inside a three inch by four-inch block of molded metal and plastic. How did this happen to me? How have I been reduced to this?
“Umm, uh… er….. hey…. Ummmm, Mommy… are you okay?”
I look up at my lovely teenage daughter coming down the hall towards me. “And when are we going for ice cream?” Timing is really everything isn’t it? I cannot let my daughter see me in this state of mild dementia; I stand up and pull myself together. I am a grown up; I can do this. It’s just a silly phone!
I excuse myself to my bedroom where I change into my big girl panties and then take my babygirl out for a giant bowl of ice cream. I’m sure I seem distracted as I shovel scoopfuls of mint chocolate chip doused in hot fudge and whipped cream into my mouth; she looks at me a little strangely when I ask if she has school tomorrow. “Ummm yeah” is her puzzled reply, “Tomorrow? It’s like Monday, Mommy.” “Okay, okay! Yes I thought it might be; well that’s a start.” I continue as I realize she has one eyebrow raised and is staring at me with deep concern, “I told you my phone is not working!” “Ooooh, yeah, yeah that really sucks, Mommy.” She’s very sensitive sometimes this one is; she definitely feels my pain as she glances at me over her phone where she’s busy texting messages to her entourage. At this point I decide to try one more time to see if I can get my own to function properly. It doesn’t. I’m not surprised. And now it has hot fudge on the screen.
Flash forward. Monday afternoon. Phone repair store: Looks a zoo. Sounds like a zoo. Waiting. All these people with broken phones? Who exactly makes these things? I’m thinking national conspiracy. Cheerful yellow-haired girl with the red lipstick and kitten tattoo on her right wrist (who does THAT?) at the welcome desk tells me, “It shouldn’t be too long” but refuses to define this in quantitative terms.
“So, like 20 minutes or so?”
“Mmmmmmmaaaay…beeeee” as she glances cluelessly (is that a word?) around the store, “but it’s just so hard to say at this time of daaaaay.”
“So do I have time to go into the store next door while I wait?”
“MmmmmIdon’treallyknow. Mmmmmmaybeeeethatsnotagoodidea I mean you know what I meeeeean because likeiftheycallyourname and like weeeeeellllll right so if youarenttinhere then well you knowwhatImeanlikeright?”
So, I wait. And wait. I watch the new-products-video loop for 20 minutes and daydream about new fancy phones before I switch to more fun activities. Great place for people watching. The phone repair center is guaranteed free entertainment in a tank of boredom. 60-something-year-old man wearing white tube socks and sandals leaning on a cane checks out the yellow-haired store hostess. He’s got his head cocked sideways looking at the kitten tatt on her wrist. She pretends not to notice him staring. Teen mom jiggling a stroller while red-faced baby screams through her whispered pleas, “sshhh! Sshhhh! ShhhhhHHH!!” A dad with his boy sitting quietly sipping out of huge Styrofoam Wattaburger cups. Both look sleepy. Lady with one of the technicians insisting loudly that she did not drop that phone in water or any other liquid of any kind no sir it is a manufacturing defect for sure and she ain’t paying for a new phone so help her God! Little-old-lady checking out the latest device- okay, now THAT’S very cute. Well isn’t this a sweet little microcosm of society!
But why is the darned air conditioning so cold in here? What’s that tapping noise? Are the fluorescent lights flickering imperceptibly and causing quasi-radioactive particles to float down onto my hair? And what is that funny smell? I look around and sadly realize that strange smell is the scent of the last thread of my very own sanity escaping my body.
There’s something wonderful in just letting go of one’s sanity. It helps in phone repair stores, airports, and in traffic. Finally my number is called. I approach the counter and find myself sitting across from a lady whose name tag says “Zeldann”. Bad auburn dye job- no clue what the original color might be. Grossly overweight. Glasses are crooked. And smudged. But the smile is friendly- that’s a good sign. “Haiiee. Now Hhhwat ken aie dew to hay-ulpp yew??” Native Texan; another good sign. I sit down and begin to describe the litany of problems my poor little cell phone is exhibiting. I tell her about the blank screen, how the numbers won’t work, I tell her about what a lovely dining room centerpiece the little phone makes. She listens. She nods. She types away on her computer. When I finish, she says, “Neoow hhwat deed yew sahy yer name wuz?”
“My name?!” “Yesss ma’um, Ah’ll jest need yer name to git yer repaiuur staahrted.”
Okay so I need to slow down. I get it. I can do that. After 8 minutes of sitting patiently while Zeldann accesses my account info, she finally asks, “Neoow hhwat seem to be the problem with yer phone may’um?” I calmly explain to her, again, that it isn’t working right, that the screen goes blank, that I sometimes cannot receive incoming calls because the start button won’t operate properly. She smiles sympathetically and nods as I speak. Then she tells me the same thing the guy from the call center in India told me, (with a different accent of course) “Yes it sher sawnds lahk it idn’t werkin properlay.” Again, I’m practically bowled over by the perceptive intuitive nature of these folks. Zeldann tells me the technician will look at it and see what can be done to get it repaired. Well all right! I think, now we are finally getting somewhere! “Kin yew jus wait rahght over there for a feeew minutes whahlst I help mah next customer puhleaz Deear?”
Uh oh; now I’m wondering, for the second time, what does a few minutes mean. I’ve already been here two hours! Maybe kitty tattoo girl knows. Mmm. Nope probably not. So I resume waiting. And waiting. And watching the people. Again. Strangely enough nearly all the same people are still here too. And several new ones. I’m wondering, Why exactly does this take SO long?
Tube sock 60-plus guy with cane is now checking out the teen mom with the newborn. She pretends not to notice him. Teen mom now carries the crying red-faced infant. She is wiggling her hips back n forth trying to rock him to sleep.
The only sign of the dad and his boy are the two huge Styrofoam Wattaburger cups sweating on the bench where they had been sitting. There’s a dark haired man I had not noticed before reading a pamphlet on cell phone plans. The old-lady is buying a hot-pink phone case. The air conditioning is still way too cold; the lights are still flickering, and I definitely still feel my sanity leaving the building.
“huh- oh who me?”
“Yes ma-um. Yew kin come baack over neoow.”
“Weeell ma-um, the technishun couldn’t get your phone to replicate the problem while he was working on it.”
“I sai-eed…. the technishun couldn’t get your phone to replicate the problem while he was working on it.”
“No no, yeah I heard you. But what are you saying, Zeldann?”
“I em saaayin’ thaaat the technishun couldn’t get your phone to replicate the problem while he was working on it.”
“Waellll that meeeans you’lll haave to come baaack when it’s not working properly.”
“You’re kidding me right?”
“No ma’um. The phone hasta be broken whaiile the technishun is working oonn it uddtherwise he caint figger out hhwats wrong with it. Duz thaaat make sense, ma’um?”
No. No actually no it doesn’t.