It’s 4 am and I’m wide awake. Maya and Shanthala lie in peaceful slumber. Whats a better cure for insomnia than checking out how comfortable writing a short blog on the iPhone is.
A few weeks back, Shanthala lost her old cell phone, thanks to a hole in a pocket. She decided that her new phone would be a smartphone. For what reason, I don’t know. She got herself a Palm Pre Plus. It cost her only $49.99 with a 2 year contract. Of course the monthly bill went up thanks to the data plan that is mandatory with all smartphones. That’s one way they get you. I didn’t think of the other way they get you. Wife envy.
Why should she have a smartphone and not me ? I had a work provided Windows Mobile Motorola phone and who wants to be seen with one of those. The thing was also old enough to throw the unfashionable thing away and get something that showed that I was not Rip van Winkle. But practical me hadn’t bothered. I wasn’t going to get a new phone, especially an iPhone that had started sprouting like mushrooms after a good rain. But suddenly, here I was, living with the woman I love, who seemed to flash her smartness everytime that she whipped her new phone up. That at first it took her a few tries before she could dial the thing only drove home the point that I was the one who needed a smartphone, not she.
And there was the friendly neighbor with the same damn phone. Taking pictures and showing me how good they looked, talking about it’s powerful “universal search” (could it tap into other universes with one of the apps that were conveniently available ?)
At work, people joke about my choices such as biking to work, using Linux almost exclusively, refusing to upgrade to a Mac, Eco-wackiness, stay-at-home dadness etc. etc. I think that I’m making a statement and they think I’m being whimsy. And they all, to a man (can I be sexist please when I’m venting) had smartphones, usually an iPhone. And they shook their heads at how I, the Linux geek, could walk around with a clunky contraption, running an even clunkier software.
Even my kid sister seemed to be taunting me as she fired off those emails with the “sent from my iPhone” signature. The whole world was running around with smartphones.
Wifey’s phone slipped through a hole in her pocket and suddenly, I was Alice in Smartphone-land. I was done denying I didn’t care. I was gripped with envy (of course I was just venting my bottled up gadget madness). I deserved a smartphone. With it, I’d sprout a brain and attract women.
I was due for an upgrade and the company’s new policy was that employees pay for the phone. So I got on the web and ordered a Palm Pre just like wifey. I punched in my credit card number, noted with satisfaction that they offered free overnight shipping and sat back. I felt smarter already.
Two days went by and no phone. Peeved, I called the phone company. Your order has to be approved sir, said the customer satisfaction representative. My company has to approve my spending my own money? When did I end up in my parents house?
I called the help desk at my company and they opened a case. Two levels of management had to approve my purchase. A week of nagging them and their secretaries and I finally had the approval to purchase the phone.
I eagerly logged back into the phone company’s website and Palm Pre is not listed as an option. I could either order a Blackberry or a Windows Mobile phone. What? My choices are to be a stuffed shirt or go back to looking dumb again ? I could feel my mid-life crisis surface.
I called my case manager and asked him why I couldn’t order the phone I wanted. Company policy, the phone you want is not supported by the IT. I don’t want any support, I said, just let me buy the damn thing. Sorry, he said. So what are my choices ? Blackberry or Windows Mobile. Not even an Android ? No. You could switch to a personal plan and buy the phone you want, he said helpfully. What about the monthly service charge, I asked. You pay that too, he said rather patiently, that’s why it’s called a personal plan. I could feel him look me up in the company directory. I could almost hear him say “And I wonder what distinguished him ?” (my title is distinguished engineer). I didn’t want to fantasize his answers.
I did not want to get an iPhone because of AT&T’s cell network quality. But, it looked like the only option left. I asked the case manager if I could switch carriers and get an iPhone without getting further permission from my corporate parents. That we can do, he said.
Three days later, Santa Claus (dressed as the UPS delivery guy) dropped off the iPhone at our doorstep.
It’s two weeks later now and you ask if I have become smarter? Met new women? Won admiring (even if grudging) looks from wifey? She tried that once in high school and look where it got her! So, lets skip the hard questions, shall we. All I can say is that eveytime she shows me how many more bars she has on her phone, I can show her how much more battery I have left. And a lot more cool apps. And let’s not forget that I can pen a blog from my bed, at 4 am, while she can only sleep.