My Smarter-Than-Me-Phone.

With Kellan the weekend we met Fred.

It was free.

And free was the only way that I would have taken it, really.

I cancelled my cell phone plan last summer right before I flew back to Dakar, effectively rendering both my old phone number and my antique pink phone entirely useless. [Really. The Smithsonian called asking if I might consider loaning it to them for their “Now and Then” display.] And after two days at home, it was time to visit my local Sprint store and rejoin society.

Which is precisely what Kellan and I decided to do that Saturday.

Now, I’ve always made it a special point to own a cell phone that was no less than 429 years older than my friends. Something about taking half an hour to painstakingly chicken-peck out two line text messages and continually repeating that much-beloved refrain: “can you hear me NOW?” just felt authentic. I was unencumbered by the technological lust that besotted the minds of my counterparts. I was real. In the midst of a microwave world, I was Laura Ingalls Wilder-churning my own butter and hauling my own water. I was…

…irritated. Let’s face it-when your African cell is nicer than your American one, you’ve got a problem, Houston.

Well it turns out that during my two years in Africa, I missed the rise of Lady Gaga, a rather alarming phenomenon that
the masses are referring to as “Bieber fever”, and every single one of you went and bought something called a “smart phone”.

My average-intelligence-phone and I were mildly distressed upon that little discovery.

I waltzed into the Sprint store and was greeted by a rather suspect, greasy blonde-haired man in a black shirt named Fred. Fred looked strangely uncomfortable-as though he might have felt much more at home on a used car lot.

Or in a bright orange jump suit.

I digress.

Fred proceeded to ask me what was “looking for in a phone”. Confidently, I explained that I wanted a phone that would survive the occasional swim in my coffee mug and dive off the top of my car. Something resilient. A fighter. Something cute, but not too cute. And most importantly, something that was not pink.

Kellan, mind you, stood off to the side, amusedly watching the confusion play across Fred’s face as he struggled to ascertain whether or not he could laugh.

Don’t even think about it, Fred.

Before I knew what had hit me, Fred was speaking Mandarin.

Or he might as well have been. With all of the gusto of “I have a dream”, Fred and his mesmerizing pot belly were lauding the wonders of smart phones everywhere. Scrunching my nose, I watched his gut bounce along with every ardent word and distractedly attempted to pay attention as he talked about apps, battery life, browsers and angry birds. There was something about widgets and syncing. Something about a touch screen, and how buying a smart phone would fulfill the hole in my life I’d never known was
there. Something about self-actualization, an end to world hunger, a cure for cancer and never having to load the dishwasher again.

And something about how I could get one for free.

Free. The first word I’d understood since the commencement of Fred’s impassioned outburst lauding the wonders of the smart phone.

Stop right there, Fred. I’ll take the free thingie. In black, please.

Fred looked rather deflated at my apparent lack of interest, but soldiered on and attempted to show me how to use my new phone.

The “on” button, Fred. Where’s the “on” button?

Before I knew it, Kellan and I were on our merry way, leaving Fred to scratch his head and eat his feelings in the break room.

Determined to embrace my new identity as a computer genius [which by the way, is apparently what you have to be to operate one of the dumb things], I spent the next hour reveling in my newfound ability to check my email and google from the highway. Everything was going along just swimmingly …until Kellan left to go back to New York.

That’s when things really got hairy.

I’d been interviewing for a part time job at my church [one that I start tomorrow! More on that later.], and my smarter-than-me-phone decided to butt dial my potential new boss.

Over. And over. And over again.

I was mortified. I mean, how on earth do you convince someone that you’re competent when you can’t even figure out how to lock your phone? Though I’m confident that my Baptist pastor boss thoroughly enjoyed the five minute voicemails I routinely left him of me belting along to “Whisky for my men, and beer for my horses”  in my car.

Just. Perfect.

And then, of course, there was the debacle that ensued when I tried to log a new contact into my address book. It’s a long, painful story-but suffice it to say that if you want to get ahold of me, carrier pigeons are your best bet.

Life is hard on the farm.

Aside from my smart phone saga, life has been busy but a ball as of late! I’ve been home for a month, and plan to begin blogging regularly again.

And speaking of the blog, you’re going to begin seeing some changes around here over the next couple of weeks. You can now find me at

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for a cup of coffee. I may even throw my smarter-than-me-phone into the pot. Cheers to that!


  1. amen sister. i told the woman i wanted a phone that called people and she looked at me like i was 4. Then I said I JUST want it to call people and I thought she’d pass out when I said no email, no facebook, twitters, etc.

    too funny. all i do is call or text.

  2. Maybe the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. I loved the reference to angry birds, gaga, and speaking Chinese. Definitely sums up the last two years for Americana.

  3. I’m petrified to get a smart phone AND to pay the bill!

  4. hahaha love this. i still have my “stupid phone” that is going on three years of hard life…trying to eke the last bit of life out of it before diving into the smart phone. i figured that’d be too much culture shock but…well, here we are two months later. maybe it’s time to bite the bullet.

  5. dAYE-ton says:

    i was mesmerized just reading about the pot belly.

    and you should have a tag for blogs that end with “now, if you’ll excuse me…”

    (you don’t know my life!)

  6. laughed out loud. fred is the man

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