(phone) service with a smile

From the Archive

why yes, I AM free on Saturday night...Monday, October 10, 2005

I was a little worried. Really, it takes a fair lot to worry me, particularly about strangers, most of whom I consider protein reservoirs God gives us so we don’t starve when the cows all die. But I was a little worried, it must be said. Typed. Whatever.

A little. It was the sounds that worried me, the sounds coming from the little room behind the concierge desk at the Hotel Vancouver. The one that only the concierge and “Todd” were allowed to go into. I never saw Todd, to this day I have never seen Todd and so would be useless at activities such as, ferinstance, picking him out of a lineup, but I knew he was back there and she was, too, and that’s where the sounds were coming from.

The sounds like a grizzly bear and a mountain lion fighting to the death.

What does this have to do with my new cellphone camera?

I'm a happening dude!Everything. It’s all about the phone, baby. All of it. Look around you. Yes, right now. Right where you are, in that stinky Internet cafe in Beijing or that suburban converted garage. All of that, all that you see: it belongs to the phone.

Believe in the power of the phone.
Do it now: Save time.

Anyway, it was all about the phone. The idea that a perfectly polite concierge could give her life in service of the phone was, as I said, a little worrying. I mean, what if Richard Branson found out? He’d be so mad…

It’s a Virgin phone. But then, if you realize I update this blog five fifteen to forty times a week (it’s gotten worse), you’ll realize I have, in fact, no life and therefore it’s almost by definition a Virgin phone.

I’ve already texted and sent pix on it…does that count, or can I still wear white for my first download?

It all started, like most BC stories, at London Drugs. Well, before that it started when I came into a slight amount of money, what most people would consider a week’s pay, which to me was like the sky opening up and God sending down angels, angels who looked like Daniel Radcliffe, Viggo Mortensen, and Gabriel Byrne and sounded like Alan Rickman, and each of whom handed me a three piece living room suite made of solid gold.

You know, like that.

Naturally, I went straight to London Drugs. Well, there was a slight disagreement at the bank, but once the cashier informed me that my wallet would not fit that much in twenties, I took her advice and got several hundreds instead, feeling sure in the deep recesses of my heart, that nobody would EVER take a hundred. Of course, I haven’t been to the West Side in ages and am a bit out of touch.

So I went straight to London Drugs. Now, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Vancouver woman in possession of a small fortune must be on her way to London Drugs. And not without reason, because it’s sort of a cross between Harrods and Santa’s Workshop. Believe me, there is not one single item available for sale in this world that cannot be obtained at London Drugs if you’re willing to wait for the shipment from China.

Naturally, that’s where I bought my phone.

I'm tawkin heyah!You can get these things everywhere, but if you get them at Future Shop the half-life of the employee is less than that of enriched Uranium, so good luck getting any help if you’ve got a problem later. So I went to London Drugs, and I stood there in front of the very nice phone display, being completely ignored by all the no doubt longterm employees who were probably busy thinking about their pension plans and feeling smug. I finally went over to a guy who was straightening two dollar blank videotapes and asked him if he wouldn’t mind selling me a phone.

I got the good one.

It was only a hundred dollars more, but this one takes pictures. It does lots of other shit too, but who gives a rat’s ass about that: I ain’t even looked it up yet. All I cared about was the pictures. And I got thirty-two of ’em right now! So that was a good choice and as soon as I get more time I’ll upload them and spam them all across this damn blog so my loyal readers in Norway will finally be able to see what the Irish Heather actually looks like. So then they can move on…

“Now, you know that this is self-activated,” said Mister London Drugs Guy, sternly. There was a pause to let the words sink in. Instead, they bounced harmlessly off my cranium, which is not equipped with a database that includes the definition of terms such as “Self-activated phone”. I mean, does it go blind if it self-activates too much?

“Okay. Sure. Whazzat?” said I, smoothly and trying to look like my density was ironic rather than disabling.

Seriously, the dog looks embarassedHe explained I had to find another phone and call virgin…hell, everyone I know is…nevermind…and call Virgin and get them to basically turn the phone on. And I thought only pervs were turned on by Virgins. And I thought only Hello Kitty turned on virgins.

So that’s how I ended up at the Hotel Vancouver. No, really, that’s a natural segue…fill in the blanks. Where would YOU take a virgin? Ah, probly the Cecil; everyone knows about you.

It’s posh, and I’ve always liked it. It’s not French posh, where the furniture looks at you like, do not even think of sitting upon me, you plebian! It’s just nice old-fashioned Canadian robber baron posh, and the public phones are among the best in Vancouver. They’re off to the side, down a hallway leading to the porte chochere, and nobody ever goes there except couples arriving by cab. The phones have lots of space, they’re in a quiet alcove with carpeting and no background noise, and there’s a bar right next door if my call should be so traumatic to require medication, although at that place I can only afford one.

So I get there, I dial the number handily printed on the back of the box, I am amused by Richard Branson‘s choice of voice messages, and I get to a helpful person who walks me through picking a number, etc etc.

Then we get to the part about “and now you turn it on.”

Alexander Graham Bell, pleaseSee, I have to take it out of the box for that. And it’s not a normal box, oh no. It’s a plastic blister pack about the size of a large canned ham and about the thickness of David Beckham. Meaning, they should put THIS on those Hummers headed for Iraq, because although I am using a very pointy steel pen, ten fingernails and my very expensively orthodontized teeth, I cannot get this fucker open no matter what.

So I say, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to hang up now and find some weaponry” and she says an uncertain, “okay,” and that’s how I end up at the concierge desk, explaining that I am not a guest but I am hoping she can help. She lights up; obviously HR found just the right person for this thankless job of helping strangers all day. She hauls out a pair of scissors so big they might be a prop for Hagrid, and starts cutting. And cutting. And cutting. She cuts of the edges all around the rim, leaving them splayed all over her desk like she’s been shoeing draft horses with French manicures or something, but can she get into the actual space where the phone is?

She cannot.

We admit defeat. For a second. Then, a slight sound, a rustle from the back room reminds her that, “Todd is back there! Todd‘s…burly! He’ll get this open!” and she gleefully runs through the swinging door to her fate.

Which brings us to the top of the page…

After the grizzly and the cougar had fought it out for a good, solid five or six minutes straight (which was kind of embarrassing, as everyone in the lobby turned and stared at me, like that poor girl had given her life and jumped into the enclosure just so that this greedy, selfish bitch could get her phone activated) she re-emerged, a little sweaty.

“I’m sorry about the packaging. Todd‘s a little…well…sorry,” she said, tipping my shiny new phone, two instruction booklets, and what looked to be the remains of an acrylic nail factory explosion into my messenger bag.

Good to go!

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