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About Handys

That’s what cellular phones are called, without exception, in Vienna (and Europe as a whole, as I understand). It translates into Deutsch real well too: Das Handy!

Before leaving on the trip, Kelly and I agreed that one of us should have a cell to make rendezvous (plural: rendezvous) easier and enable communication with home-type folks. Since Kelly’s little Motorola flip phone isn’t Europe-compatible, we agreed that mine was the phone to bring. Since Europe is roughly three years ahead of the US in phone network technology, particularly the GSM protocol my gum-pack-sized phone uses, we thought it might actually work after flinging it across the pond – a nice change from its quasi-functionality stateside.

Sadly, we’ll never know. I brought the phone as planned, but so far its only function has been as an alarm clock. I intended to buy one of the pre-paid SIM cards they sell all over the place here and swap it with my exisiting one, tit for tat. This would have worked fine, except that after talking to the charming OneWorld representative in his charming mobile shop on Mariahilferstraße for over an hour, I decided to buy a shitty little Siemens model and use it instead. Dumbly, I asked the one question you should never ask after entering an electronic store with a purchase already in mind: “why not?”

Yes, why not buy an ugly, clunky phone that I don’t even know will work with an AT&T Wireless account (still six months on my contract) in Seattle? After all, it’s only €20 more than using my existing phone – think of all the stupid things I spend €20 on! Yes, things like this retarded phone. I guess I just got caught up in the excitement of Kelly’s phone purchase – the same model I have – and figured that €60 for a prepaid-card and a phone is a better deal than €40 for just the card. Yes, it is, but here’s the catch – only if you need a phone!

Somehow this last point didn’t dawn on me until after leaving the store, retarded phone proudly in hand. I didn’t start to really question my purchase until later that afternoon, sitting at a café, when I realized that I had no way to install custom ringtones short of buying stupid pop-rock songs directly from Siemens’s website – certainly no way to compel my new phone to ring with “Title Track” or “Title and Registration”.

Why the hell did I buy this thing? It’s not even cute. Maybe I can pawn it off on some rube in a hostel before I leave and thus recoup my €20 loss. I hope so.

Other than the fact that I hate it, the phone is great. Kelly and I can talk for €0,20 a minute most times of day, and we can call other people for various other (more expensive) prices. We’ve already each used our phones to save our respective asses in scary travel situations, like missing an essential train or being stranded, friendless and alone, in the city for an entire afternoon. The best part by far is that incoming calls are free of charge. This means that if you feel like talking to me, it’s free (for me)! The number is 069910322388, and Kelly’s is one higher. Notice that I make no attempt to insert edifying puncuation into that horrifying string of numbers; I have no idea where they go. If you do call, please restrict the time you do so to between 3am and 3pm PDT – noon to midnight to us. Hopefully the horrible cost of Transatlantic calling will deter anyone from waking me up at 4am just for kicks. We – Kelly and I – would love to talk to you on our retarded phones, so give us a ring and we’ll answer.

Posted in Musings.


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