It was an iPhone Christmas around here this year.
It all started back in October when my LG Extravert gave up the ghost. Or rather, when the slide-out keyboard started having sticky keys, which is a problem that phone tends to have. This was our 3rd or 4th phone, between my daughter and I, and every single one of them has degenerated into sticky keys within 6-9 months.
This resulted in texts that said things like, “I cannnnnnnn commmme to the performmmmannnnce,” and after a while, even your best friend starts to lose patience (and text back things like, “donnnt mmmake funnn of mmme,” especially if you have made reference to a typo she has made).
I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth buying another Extravert, so I started looking for a used iPhone. I figured, since my other alternative was a $20 flip-phone with phone keypad and T9 word recognition, even a used iPhone 3 would be better than that. I quickly discovered that unless you are lucky enough to know someone with an old iPhone they want to offload, you can’t really buy one.
Well, you can, if you want to spend hundreds of dollars. Or, you can buy one cheap, but there is no way of knowing whether you will actually receive the item you thought you purchased. We went through that with a purchase of a “Used-Excellent” 3G Kindle Keyboard last year. When it arrived, it turned out to be WiFi only, not 3G, and was refurbished. After a month of emails going back and forth (very slowly on the seller’s part), we sent it back, only to be told a week later that we had to prove to them that they had received it before they would issue us the refund. Fortunately my brilliant husband had sent it via Fed Ex, having foreseen just such an eventuality.
At any rate, there was no way I was going to get into a purchase of electronics from a third party or eBay seller again.
My 20 year old has had an iPhone for two years, so I asked his help. He showed me a plan offered by Verizon where we could get free iPhones and a month-to-month family plan. We did the math and it worked out to about what we were already paying for our pre-paid phones. The only problem was that we had to wait until his contract expired in December before we made the change. This gave me the bright idea to get phones for my husband, the two oldest kids and myself and give them as gifts for Christmas. For free! What’s not to love about that?
In the meantime, since I had an old flip-phone lying around, I used that. Three months of T9. I should get an award.
Did you know that T9 does not recognize the word “Valentines?” It comes out “Takeouines.” So my family and friends have, from my years of flip-phone use, gotten used to me wishing them Happy Takeouines Day on Feb. 14.
Also, the word “right,” if one of the letters was not picked up by the phone as I was typing it, would come out as the S-word, which was quite unfortunate when I was answering a text with a sarcastic “Oh, right” and didn’t notice the change before I hit send.
Especially if it were to one of my kids.
At any rate, two days before Christmas (I think I have already established my affinity for the ragged edge of disaster), my son and I were at the Verizon store signing a contract and picking up the phones. At the last possible second we suddenly realized that my husband has a phone from work, and that he really doesn’t need an iPhone however much he would like one, and that there was no way he was going to strap an iPhone to his belt next to his gigantic Samsung Galaxy every day. He’s a bit of a tech nerd, but not that bad.
Which was fine and all, but then that left me, two days before Christmas, with no gift for my husband.
Oh, but it was worse than that. Not only did I not get HIM a gift, but I got myself an iPhone. All of a sudden my genius idea of October was turning into a very, very bad thing.
How did I not see this coming? How did I not figure this out until I was about to buy the dang phones? That could be the topic of another blog. It probably will be. Let’s just leave it at the fact that this is not unusual behavior for me. Despite the (now-expired) Mensa membership card.
I agonized over this predicament. I had so wanted to surprise him with my foresight and thriftiness, getting us all superior phones for the same price as the throwbacks we had all struggled with for years in the name of living within our means. I could find no easy answer for it. My elation at finally having an iPhone — and a pretty GOLD one, at that — was overshadowed by the sour taste of Christmas Fail.
My son had no qualms about this, mind you. He started using his phone right away, quite gleefully, and no one noticed the upgrade. I had to keep mine and my daughter’s hidden, so they lay hidden in the bottom of my tote bag, a token of my shame. I didn’t even want to wrap them.
I couldn’t stand it any longer and finally confessed the whole debacle to my husband later than night. He stared at me, speechless. I couldn’t read the expression on his face and this worried me. Finally he sighed and said, “Well then, I guess I’ll just have to take back the phone I bought you for Christmas.”
As if it hadn’t been bad enough before.
I was saved from total despair by the realization that it was playing out like a scene out of “The Gift of the Magi.” We both had a good laugh about it, and when he lamented, “Now I don’t have a gift for you either,” I pulled the box out of my tote bag and handed it to him. He wrapped it in front of me, chuckling all the while.
The next day I sang at an afternoon Christmas Eve service, so my focus for most of the day was preparing for that. With that deadline out of the way, I once again turned my thoughts toward my husband’s gift. I still had a good 8 hours of shopping time left at this point. The sky was the limit.
The 12 year old offered, after the service, to accompany me on my shopping trip. There was a hardware store around the corner from the church, and I remembered Alan showing interest in a tool there a few weeks before and saying he had always wanted one, and I was confident I could remember where that tool was located, so we headed there.
It turned out to be the wrong hardware store. I knew right where the tool was in THE OTHER store. But not in this one.
A helpful employee, noticing my aimless wandering, asked if he could help.
To make a long story short, my husband received from me, the next morning, a gift card for the hardware store with the attached note: “Apparently a ‘handheld tool that looks like a drill but isn’t one and that has a spinny thing on the end of it’ isn’t enough to identify that tool you wanted, so you’ll have to go buy it yourself.”
So Christmas morning worked out okay after all. He was very happy with his hardware store gift card (note to self: remember this next year), the 20 year old was ecstatic with his new phone, I was over the moon with mine, and the 19 year old, the only one for whom the phone was a surprise at this point, actually cried when she opened hers.
All the gatherings of relatives for the next two days now had a focal point. Well, okay, celebrating the birth of Christ and the spending of time with family, but ALSO, the giving of iPhone tips.
I now have an Instagram. I’m not sure why, given that I have a blog and a Facebook account, but I’ve always wanted one, so I have one now. I may even venture into the unknown territory of mobile banking. I still don’t understand how the bank considers it a deposit if you just take a picture of a check, but the 20 year old assures me it’s a thing.
I have also become that woman, the one who is so focused on her phone as she walks across a parking lot that she walks right across a parking space just as someone is trying to pull into it.
Perhaps I should put increased capacity for multitasking on my list of New Year’s Resolutions.