Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Seven. Two. Zero. Goodbye, to an old friend.

I don't know what to do, I told him. Him, being the ear-ringed, yet polite sales rep named Brett sitting across the half-desk. I don't blame you he offered in an attempt to numb my pain. But there's nothing we can do, he piled on. I, I have to call my wife and give her the news, I  mumbled back as if being told I was going to lose the leg. I understand, take your time, I heard as turned to the least busy corner to make a call over an agonizing decision.

Hi. Yes. I'm at the store. It's just a number, right?

Like a first kiss, or car, or broken bone, you remember your first cell phone. Mine was from Radio Shack and it was glorious. I would pay large sums of money to be able to find it. Just to show the grand kids some day. In my day, we didn't have any telepathic micro-chips in our skulls so Timmy knows you think he's cute. We had the email and THIS magnificent piece of Korean-made lead and plastic! Now go get gramps another zero-carb MolsonMillerCoorsCoronaBudweiserHeineken Lite and tell grandma to meet me upstairs in fifteen minutes.

Note: I cannot wait to be that grandpa. My children will be terrified to hear what comes out of my mouth next and revenge is awesome.

That was roughly fifteen years ago and as we all know, the cell phone has become the rebar in the foundation of all things now. I've had countless phones, carriers, plans, smart phones, flip phones. I had one of the first BlackBerrys ( I still have this one) and it was like using a toaster to make a call. Phones came and went. Contracts expire, screens break, the next big thing comes out that you just have to have. But for the past ten years or so, I had just one phone number. Only one.

It was just a number. But after porting it from plan to plan, rolling to carrier to carrier, doling out to countless friends, girls, potential employers, Blockbusters and virtually anything and everything you touch, it becomes more than a number. It's an area code, a symbol, an emblem of yourself. It becomes your identity.

It was a Colorado number. The home of the Rocky Mountains, The Colorado Rockies, Rocky Mountain High, Rocky Mountain Oysters, you get the idea. My wife associated me as a Colorado guy, he has a Colorado number she would tell her Upper Midwestern brethren with a touch of smugness.

My wife gets a new number every time she moves or gets a new job and says it's a way to start over and to stay in touch with only the people you need to. Whatever. She clearly doesn't think of me when moving up the corporate ladder. She started a new job a few months ago and I have honestly no idea what her cell phone number is. Sure, it's stored in my phone and I just press her face and it dials. If there's an emergency today and I have to use someone else's phone to call her, the house will just have to burn down. It took me months to memorize her social security number, birthday, anniversaries, thermostat settings, and correct coffee-milk-sugar ratio, by the time I get her new number down, she'll probably have a different one.

There were plenty of chances to give it up. But after each near miss and opportunity, we grew closer and closer. Even after the wife dragged moved me to Minnesota, I kept it. Get a Minnesota phone number? Please. I'd rather die.

So moving to semi-rural Wisconsin wouldn't be any different I thought with confidence. After this long, why change it now? Let's see how long we can let this thing ride. I may never ever have another number! But the folks at big cell phone don't believe in happy endings. Turns out, keeping one's number is only guaranteed under the right circumstances and semi-rural Wisconsin is not rife with ideal circumstances.

So, long-story short, after a fierce but decisive battle, a major cell phone carrier (rhymes with HORIZON) are now the sole owners of my dear friend and once-identity. And to whomever is blessed with my old number, if anyone calls for me, tell them to email. I have no idea what my new number is.

So long, (720) me...
Hello, (608)...

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