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I’ve Been Lucky Since 1998

In 1998, I started using this great and glorious piece of technology known as a cellular telephone. At the time, it was “mom’s phone” that I held on to when I was out and about in order to keep in contact with her. I don’t know if she ever made an unassisted call using that first phone, or the few that followed. [N.B. – She has her own phone now and uses like a champ] Since that time, I’ve heard many friends lose their phones, drop it in a toilet, breaking their phone or something else that rendered their phone useless and required a replacement.

I have to admit- I started thinking I was above it happening to me. I never thumbed my nose to someone when they said they were having cellular problems, but I just thought that it wasn’t going to happen to me.

Not anymore. On Sunday night, I was talking on the phone as I approached the 57th Street Station for the F train to head back to Bishop Molloy retreat house in Queens for the night. I hung up the phone, since underground the phone only serves as a nice time piece, put it into my pocket. Due to construction on the line, there were no Queens-bound trains at that station, so I had to take a downtown train one stop and transfer over. I get comfortable for the ride to the end of the line and thought nothing of the cell phone.

I arrive at the 179th St stop in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens and reach for the phone to get ready to use it. It’s not in my left pocket- but it must be in the right by some odd chance. No. Did I put it into my bag instead? No. Fell into my umbrella? Nope. I’m a bit nervous about this situation now so I ask the ticket booth attendant if anyone has turned in a cell phone, as the train had already left the station. Since this is the end of the line, the trains leave the station beyond the route, switch tracks and come back untouched by human hands. When at the outbound track, MTA personnel clean the train of litter. The ticket attendant informed me of this and she buzzes me back into the station so I begin my search.

At first, I couldn’t remember where I sat on the train. It isn’t something I pay much attention to when I’m on the train. I remember in a flash that the train had nothing but Dunkin’ Donuts ads. I run through each car and found the only car with only those ads. I see the same trash on the seat across from me I remember seeing on the long ride over. For a second, I start to breathe a bit easier. Until there’s no phone.

I tell the guys working about my problem so they help me look. When they completed their sweep of the train (literally), there is still no phone. The only thing I can think of is it fell out of my pocket on that first train I had to take due to Queens-bound track construction.

Since that train is long gone toward Coney Island, I give up. I ask the ticket attendant for the procedure and she gave me a telephone number. I return to the retreat house.

Trying to find the silver lining- I’ve been thinking about getting a new phone for a little while now- I decide to cash in. Due to the Cingular/AT&T mergers, the plan I’m on is no longer offered, as I’m a grandfathered Cingular Blue customer (read: old AT&T wireless customer). If I want to get a new phone through Cingular (and their discount pricing), I would have to get a new plan. Every Cingular plan currently charges for text messages, which I’m completely opposed to. As far as I know, it is much cheaper to carry a single SMS text message over the system compared to one minute of voice, yet I can talk as much as I want and asked to pay 10 cents for the quick data burst? I don’t think so.

I digress. I find an “unlocked” phone on Amazon.com that I like and I order it. I figure I should be able to get a new SIM card without problem (not 100% sure though, so let’s cross fingers and/or pray, whatever your custom).

I wait to suspend my account since the online form wasn’t working and just in case Lost and Found had the phone in the morning. If they did, problem solved and I could use the same SIM card.

I discover a pay phone in the retreat center- I’m the only one staying in the building Sunday night so I couldn’t bum someone else’s cell phone. I make a few personal calls using a credit card. Since my phone is also my alarm clock, I open the blinds in my room so that the morning sun might wake me up. It did, albeit I didn’t know the time. Since it’s a retreat house, they tend not to have many clocks in the building so I go to the lobby and find out that I woke up at 6:30 a.m.

I fiddle around online until 8 a.m. when Lost and Found opens. They inform me that anything lost and turned in on the system on Sunday would not reach them until Wednesday! Since I was flying out later that day, I know the case is one only for St. Jude. I call Cingular and have my phone suspended.

I should be back up and talking on Thursday

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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