Brad Knetl: First Cell Phone

cell phones

Everyone who knew me was shocked when I got a cell phone in 2005. Why would someone as misanthropic and telephone-averse as me ever want to carry a babblebox around? Brad in particular thought it was hysterical, and even funnier since I had the cheapest, crappiest phone possible. No frills. Just voice, voicemail, and text. I used it until it died, and then I replaced it with a free-on-contract Nokia. Also no frills. I used that 'til it died and replaced it with the same model—bought on eBay, since it had been discontinued for two years at that point. I used that 'til it died, then hunted high and low for the same model to replace it with, but couldn't find one anywhere. Admittedly, the phone was a piece of crap, but I was used to it. It fit properly in my pocket and my hand and it did what I needed it to.

I wound up replacing it with a pink phone. Pink, you see, was free-on-contract. Black cost an extra $10. That phone was pretty fancy, I thought. It opened up and had a real keyboard. It had a color screen. It could do speakerphone. It had a little notepad app. It allegedly had the internet. Didn't bother with any of that shit, though. Voice and text were what I needed.

Brad, who found my telephonic luddism amusing to begin with, had fertile new ground for mockery. It was not just an underpowered, behind-the-times turd of a phone, it was pink. PINK!

It wasn't pink, I told him. It was tactical pink, the same color that Navy SEALs used for their radios. Honest.

I don't think he believed me.

Brad told me that he was gonna buy me a smartphone.

No, I said.

For your birthday, he said.

No, I said. Never.

When the tactical telephone dies.

No. Not now, not ever, no way.

I used that pink phone for three years—'til it died, in case you couldn't guess. Then it came back to life, so I used it a while longer...then it died again. The phone was such a piece of crap that I didn't bother trying to replace it. I called Brad up and said, "You still wanna buy me a smartphone?"

He did. That was Brad.

He picked the Moto G. I picked the yellow-green case. It does the internet. And GPS. And apps. And games. It also does telephone calls and text, which is what I wanted. That was July of 2014. Still hasn't died yet, in spite of a couple drops and a trip through the washing machine.

But almost everything I wrote above has been a digression. That cell phone I got in 2005, the one that everyone thought was so out of character, was not the first I'd owned.

I had a cell phone in highschool. So did Brad. We picked them out together. That was 1997 or 1998, so cutting the cord was a big deal. A really big deal for a pair of sixteen year olds. At Ri Ra, one of Brad's friends remembered him showing his new toy off: Brad came to school wearing a black trenchcoat, approaching people and nonchalantly pulling the phone out and asking if they wanted to make a call.

Because I'm a packrat, I still have that first phone—as impractical now as it was then. I wonder if Brad kept his...

James Sinks

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James Sinks's first cell phone and credit card

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