"Is that a flip phone?" This is a question I hear with more and more frequency every time I pull the trusty ol’ Motorola from my pocket in public. Yes, I still have a flip phone. No, I am not some hipster fuck. Need proof? I work for the federal government. My flip phone is used. Not just by me, or a friend before me, or even a friend of a friend, but a complete stranger; it is not just a slut, but a full-fledged, anonymous street-corner prostitute, being passed around in this manner. Which reminds me: it cost me money to buy, which I’m sure Verizon made a 100% profit margin on, staunch phone-pimps that they are.

The only other routes for a new phone would have been to steal one, apply for welfare, or have my parents pay for it. Back in 2009, I owned a flip phone that I had bought the previous year, brand new, out of the showroom, so to speak. It wasn’t fancy, but it worked, and it wasn’t perceived as the technological embarrassment my current phone is now. My telephonic satisfaction wouldn’t last long, however. The new degree I had just obtained landed me a job that involved hoisting full kegs that weighed more than me all day, every day. This often involved bracing them against the top of my thighs, which was unfortunate news for the phone in my pocket just beneath. It wasn’t long before my year-old flip phone was as non-functional as just about any other small object that manages to find its way beneath multiple full kegs, so it was off to the Verizon store.

I didn’t think I was in a bad position, since it had been a year since I had bought my last phone and I could probably get a new one for little or no cost. Not so. Predictably, my younger sister had used all of my family’s trade-in points to swap her still-new pink RAZR for a pink Blackberry—because every teenage girl must be able to receive and compose vital email on the fly and be part of that "BBM club" of glorified texters. So it appeared I’d be shelling out some cold, hard cash for this one, something I didn’t have to spare making ten bucks an hour at the time.

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Box of cell phones at Verizon store
Verizon: What could possibly go wrong?
I was going to downsell this sales guy before he could even think about upselling me; I was gonna play some hardball with this cell phone, as long as that wouldn’t break it as well. "What’s your cheapest phone?" I asked. "Well, the cheapest new phone is over one hundred dollars…but I can get you a refurbished one for around sixty." Sold. The salesman proceeded to present me with a choice of "refurbished" phones in a cardboard box. I picked out the least scratched, most modern-looking piece-of-shit used phone to resurrect from this cellular mass grave.

Scratched, worn, and cracked, the "refurbishing" process did not appear to have been kind to this phone, but it was my best and cheapest choice. The only other routes would have been to steal one, apply for welfare, or have my parents pay for it, the latter being a dishonor reserved for the monthly bill. The salesman transferred all my contacts and a couple of pictures from my old phone over to the "new" phone successfully, but it still had 153 pictures on it from the previous owner, none of them portraying girls, hot and/or naked. All I can determine from the pictures is that the phone probably used to belong to an MIT student with a strange affinity for airplanes and camera-phone photography. Evidently, the "refurbishing" process is also not thorough enough to erase those pictures, which can only be accomplished one photo at a time, so I have been carrying over 150 of a strangers’ lame airplane photos around for two years, shamefully telling people who inquire that my sixty dollars did not purchase me any amateur nude photos, nor would the pathetic screen resolution really allow you to see anything otherwise.

My flip phone has come a long way with me since then. It has been frozen and thawed repeatedly, due to such problems as the Northeast Snowpocalypse of 2010 and being sent to the Arctic. It has been off for months at a time. As a result, the battery holds about as much charge as a block of rubber (which is kind of what the phone looks like anyway). A single phone call more than a few minutes long will rob it of three out of four battery bars. Recently, after turning my phone back on after a day at work (yes, I turn it off at work), I had thirty new picture texts from a group of old roommates of mine. I could see none of them.

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I was only made fun of for my phone for the first time this past spring, surprisingly. A friend of mine made a reference to how hard it must be to get laid with such a phone, when you whip out the ol’ Motorola to put a girl’s number in. If getting laid was as easy as having a cool phone…well, I’d have a cool phone then, but I feel like there are more effective ways to use the time-honored "wealth for sex" system. I can’t name anything specifically, but get me the "wealth" half and I’ll think about it some more ("I’m so rich, I don’t even need a phone"). Remember, if you’re in your twenties these days, and you’re not an accountant, engineer, or a parasite upon your parents’ bank account, then you’re probably not rich, and that smartphone money may be better spent on the finer things that exist in the realm of the 20-somethings, like expensive beer, HBO, car insurance, or rent.

At the risk of sounding like some nihilist religious wackjob, you don’t need a smartphone, or at least I don’t. If I get lost, I use a map. If I need to search the Google-machine, I use a computer, like our forefathers intended. And if I needed to get laid by an unfamiliar woman, I would drink enough expensive beer to forget that my flip phone might be an obstacle to that. Maybe I’m the last of a dying breed, one that gets by on fast cars, loud rock, strong booze, and internet confined to a computer, but hey, what more do you really need?

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