Monday, June 16, 2008

The Worst Three Hours of My Life!

A CrackBerry Addict Drops Off the Grid

© 2008 Leighann Lord

I dropped my BlackBerry and the screen went blank. No big deal. I reset the battery, pressed the "on" button and abracadabra, nothing. I tried it again and all I got was the faint red glow of the indicator light. When that sputtered out, I began to panic. "I'm out here all alone without my BlackBerry?!?" Mind you, "out here" was the grocery store less than five miles from my house. I had my car, my keys, and my wallet. I even had a quarter to use a pay phone, but unfortunately pay phones don’t have speed dial. And thus my mind slipped quickly and easily into the sad and pitiful grip of BlackBerry withdrawal.

I guess subconsciously I believed my BlackBerry was indestructible. I've dropped it on a few occasions, and like a Timex, it took a licking and kept on ticking. I just knew the fine folks at Research in Motion (RIM) had crafted the device from pure adamantium. (For you non-X-Men fans, that's what Wolverine's skeleton is made from.)

Things were easier when phones weren't so smart. Back then, a lost or broken phone was just that. Now, a felled phone costs you your date book, camera, mp3 player, mobile internet connection; not to mention all the third party applications. And so an inopportune meeting with parking lot concrete turned my smart phone into a dumb paper weight.

What to do? The Panicked BlackBerry-deprived Voice in me said, "Groceries by damned; go buy another phone." The Calmer let's-not-make-hasty-financial-decisions-in-this-economy Voice said, "Call tech support and see if they can fix it." Yes, that's it. Good looking out, Calm Voice.

Forty-five minutes after backing up my data, deleting and reinstalling the hand held software, the screen was still black. "Josh," the RIM Rep sighed and said, "Sounds like the LCD screen is damaged. You're gonna have to send the unit in for repair." He said the words half heartedly knowing full well that no self respecting BlackBerry owner is going to part with a gadget so vital and integral to their daily lives. Send it in? Pish posh, Josh.

As I drove to the T-Mobile store to get a replacement BlackBerry it finally hit me: I'm not just a casual fan of a cool piece of technology. I’m an addict. There’s a reason why they call it a CrackBerry. I went off the grid for a measly three hours and I was a wreck. How did this happen to me? I used to mock people with BlackBerrys as card carrying members of the Matrix. I guess I mocked too soon. Mock not, lest Yee be mocked.

Naturally, this is all my Husband's fault.

I never wanted a BlackBerry. He did. But my Sweetie is not very technically savvy, so the BlackBerry sat in the box until he gave me The Face and said, "Baby, can you please set up my phone for me." Sometimes I think he only married me for my technical know how. (Take that any way it amuses you.) And so -- since I'm a sucker for a furry face -- I read the manual, called tech support and when I was done I was ready to join the BlackBerry nation.

This was a major hardware shift for me. For years I was a Palm purist. I've had the Palm Pilot, Palm IIIxe, Palm M130 and two Palm m515s. The Palm Treo -- Palm's foray in the combination PDA/Cell phone market – should have been the logical next step for me, but I was deeply skeptical back then of all-in-one devices. Instead of one gadget that can do many mediocre things, I wanted good quality dedicated devices. I wanted my camera to be my camera, my PDA to be my PDA and my phone to be my phone. I guess in retrospect I should have gone with my instincts.

I also couldn't ignore the declining quality of Palm's customer service. Excruciatingly long hold times for help prompted me to buy a speaker phone. You know you’re on hold for too long when the cartilage in your ear starts to hurt. And then when I finally got a live person, I was disturbed to find I routinely knew more than they did. "Dude, do you even own a Palm?" By contrast, RIM has great tech support. It’s accessible and free, 24-hours-a-day; the reps are kind, courteous and competent. Is it any wonder that I made the switch?

Now, crisis averted, I plan to get the LCD screen repaired so I have a back-up BlackBerry. I know this sounds like I’ve taken a big swig of the berry flavored Kool-Aid but I use my phone for business. I need to know at a moment’s notice who’s hiring me for a show, poking me on FaceBook, or if the nice Nigerian diplomat needs my help sorting out his country’s finances.

Seriously though, I’m not addicted to my BlackBerry. I can turn it off and put it down anytime I want to. No really. I can walk away from any gadget, any time: Ipod, laptop, desktop, car, indoor plumbing, electricity, air … I can go "Little House on the Prairie" with the best of them. That’s right. You didn’t know I could roll like that didja? But, of course, I’d have to be Nellie Olson; because if anybody in Walnut Grove would have a BlackBerry, it would be her.

Gotta go; phone’s ringing.


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