>>> Casual Misanthropy
By staff writer JD Rebello
August 7, 2005

So I didn’t have a column last week, but I have an excuse. I was buying a new cell phone.

Yeah, that’s right.

Buying a cell phone is just a harrowing ordeal. Remember all the agony Edward Burns went through in “Saving Private Ryan” with that whole “what’s the point of risking all our lives for one man” rhetoric? That’s about how I felt. And I’d been drinking.

So I was getting a new cell phone because my last company sucked. I feel bad about defaming them, so I’ll just say it was not a PLURAL company. Get it?

“I’ve seen some of these pictures on camera phones. They’re not exactly National Geographic-style photos. It’s like a regular picture, with Saran wrap covering it.”

But seriously, buying a cell phone is a bitch. Ever try to shop for cell phones at the mall, with those annoying booths and Joe High School Drop Out literally clothes-lining you as you walk past, trying to sucker you into buying a $300 phone that apparently can download up to eight gigs of Swedish pornography? And they’re always the biggest assholes about it, too. I understand you work on commission and those 40-inch rims for your mom’s Celica don’t pay for themselves, but seriously, I really don’t need 8000 minutes of airtime to call the Czech Republic. (Seriously, once they broke it off with Slovakia, is there anything more useless than a Czech? Maybe Alex Cora. Maybe.) By the way, cell phone salespeople have replaced the Vinny Testas Pepper Mill Lottery guys as the greasiest bastards on the planet. They all wear those awesome Mossimo button-down shirts that you get at Target. They all have a really nice watch that hasn’t given the correct time since the Chumbawumba era. I just don’t like them. I really don’t.

Now, like any good consumer, before I could even think about buying, I had to complete one pivotal step. That’s right kids, research. And how does a college student with a beer gut and disorienting body hair do research? Lexis Nexis? Oh fuck yourself. We ask OTHER college students with beer guts and disorienting body hair.

Of course, this is a tempered flare (that doesn’t make sense, I just felt like writing it…when you get your own PIC column, and God knows they’re easier to come across these days than dead people in London, you can write whatever your little heart desires). Anyway, here’s the fatal flaw with asking advice from other college kids. Every college kid thinks they have the ultimate cell phone. It’s like discussing religion with a Catholic or molesting white women with an NBA star. Everyone thinks they’ve got the best. People with Verizon seem to be the worst offenders. Seriously, according to some of these Verizon cultists, their cell phone service gives them unlimited nights and weekends, free text messaging, and weekly visits from Verizon employees to jack them off and cook them breakfast.

Nextel, too. First off, I would never get Nextel, or as my friend Jenny calls it, “the phones that go ‘ba-gurk’.” People with Nextel all give off an annoying “I actually own ‘Knockaround Guys’ on DVD” vibe. Not only that, but from what I can tell, you can get reception on a Nextel phone in about four places, and three of them are Nextel stores. Besides, who needs a walkie talkie phone? What is this? Spytech? Remember that? I had the camera hidden in the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup package. I was the shit. And speaking of cameras…

I just don’t get camera phones. First of all, do you really need to have access to digital photography every waking second? And it’s always stupid shit. “Look everyone, Rob’s making Lean Pockets, where’s my fucking camera?” Second, I’ve seen some of these pictures on camera phones. They’re not exactly National Geographic-style photography. It’s like a regular picture, with Saran wrap covering it. Cool. Glad I spent an extra 50 bucks on that feature.

How about these people who have AIM access from their phones? Why? So you can take 12 minutes to fumble through “hi jstin ho r u lol!!11!”

Something else about buying cell phones, and yeah, I’m aware I’ve fallen horribly off-track. I don’t like the hidden charges. At first I was going to buy my phone from Best Buy’s online store Get Connected, which is like the mother of hidden charges. I’ve seen less deception at Karl Rove’s Fourth of July party. First it says if I buy this Samsung phone, I make $50. As in, Get Connected will pay me $50 to buy this phone. Sweet. Can’t possibly be a catch, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought. So I go all the way to the confirm purchase page, and learn that Get Connected will charge me a $160 fee for buying a phone through them. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll add that they would give me a mail-in rebate. But I really hate those scrummy mail-in rebates. First, I always forget about them. Second, they take a solid 8 to 10 weeks to get the money back. Well, I don’t like that. It’s like letting some scumbag friend borrow $20 under the guise “Yeah, I’ll pay you back.” I don’t know you Get Connected, so why should I let you borrow money, you degenerate prick?

So when all is said and done, I went Verizon. Why? Because I’m a fucking sheep, that’s why, and because Verizon seemed to be the only company interested in selling me a phone. Not a combination camera-walkie talkie-toaster oven-vibrator. A goddamned phone. That’s all I ask. And maybe, unlike Cingular (err, I mean, the non-plural company of which I won’t defame), perhaps my phone will work when I need it to work, organizing beer runs and fantasy baseball trades. And besides, who needs rollover minutes when you’ve got eight gigabytes of Swedish pornography? Can you hear me now?