Last Wednesday started like any other day. I got up, got the kid up, wrangled her out of her night-clothes and into her school clothes, and sent her off to daycare. I grabbed a cup of coffee, opened up the laptop, scanned my Twitter feed and my RSS feed. Made another cup of coffee and changed my clothes. I grabbed my running shoes and my iPhone.
I plugged in my earbuds, hit ‘play’ on a podcast and ‘start’ on the treadmill. The intervals program started with a brisk walk. I propped my phone up on the console in one of the water bottle cubbyholes and took off.
Around six minutes in, things started going wonky. The earbud cord was bothering me. Something about the way it was swinging and jiggling was distracting. I tried to adjust it, but my irritation level was creeping up so nothing I did worked.
I decided to ignore it. I only had a few more minutes to do anyway, and this one little thing was making me lose focus.
A minute later, at the beginning of a running interval, the damn thing got in my way again. I reached down to grab the cord, thinking I would just hold it still until I hit the walking interval, and then could try to fix it again.
Except I didn’t grab the cord so much as hit it.
My arm came down on the cord and the phone launched out of the cubbyhole, flew across the room in a slow-motion arc, and landed with a sickening clatter on the tile floor on the opposite side of the room.
I had heard the rumors. I knew the risks of a klutz like me carrying such a notoriously fragile piece of equipment. I ignored all the warning signs, like when it fell out of the same cubbyhole just the week before.
There was nothing I could do except say a few colorful expletives and finish my work-out. When I finally got the courage to survey the damage, it was exactly as I feared – White Screen Of Death.
I reported the damage to my dad, then dug around and found my old Palm Pixi Plus, the phone I carried prior to the iPhone. I plugged it in and borrowed a phone to call AT&T.
I don’t know how it is with other carriers, but AT&T has two different smartphone plans: one for the iPhone, and one for everything else like Palm and Blackberry. When I originally went from the Palm to the iPhone, I didn’t know that. It wasn’t until I realized I couldn’t connect to the 3G network that I called AT&T. It took about five minutes to get my plan switched and my phone working properly.
Wednesday afternoon the switch took a little longer because it took for-ev-er to get the SIM card moved from one phone to the other. The customer service rep was beyond patient, joking and talking with me while we waited for the Palm to boot. It finally came up, she did her magic, and it worked perfectly.
While I was getting that fixed, my dad was looking for solutions to the White Screen Of Death problem. We tried rebooting it but that didn’t work since it wasn’t a software problem. Several message boards later, he determined that the only fix was a new screen.
I can’t afford a $60 screen repair kit, but it didn’t really bother me because I have a working phone. It may not be an iPhone, but it’s still pretty great. Besides, I know from experience that the Pixi can take a beating. I once dropped it off a balcony. In the middle of downtown Dallas. Splat, onto the concrete. It worked just fine after I put it back together.
My dad doesn’t think like I do. He got up Thursday morning and took the White Screen Of Death phone to a repair shop and got my screen replaced. He came in my office Thursday afternoon and laid it on the desk in front of me. I might have squealed.
But now, a dilemma. Stay with the nigh-indestructible Palm, or go back to the shiny iPhone?
On one hand, the Pixi has all the basics: email, internet, touch screen, decent camera, and I’ve already proven I can’t break it. It has some things that I love – an external keyboard and application multitasking – that the iPhone doesn’t have.
On the other hand, the iPhone has all the apps I use almost every day. I’m not talking about “Angry Birds.” I’m talking about fitness apps, music apps, book apps, social network apps, etc. But it can’t handle being dropped.
I honestly didn’t know what to do. Luckily, my dad made the decision for me when he handed me an OtterBox cover.
Yes, it’s bulky and yellow and a bit obscene. But if it means I can’t break the phone again, I really don’t care what it looks like. I get the best of both world: all my apps, and the ability to bounce it across the floor without hurting it.
The best part of the day was calling AT&T.
Me: “Hi, I called yesterday to get my plan switched. Well, I need it switched back.”
CSR: “You got it fixed, huh?”
CSR: “Good for you!”
A side note: We use AT&T for everything – mobile phones, internet, and cable. I always have a good customer service experience. Every time. And I call them quite a lot. They are always polite, knowledgeable, and seem like they genuinely enjoy what they do. More importantly, I have never felt like they were talking down to me, even the time I kept the guy on the phone for almost an hour. He rebooted and reconfigured my entire system just to fix my wireless internet connection. Turns out I had bumped my F12 key and turned off my network connection. Not one of my most shining moments, but he had the good grace to not laugh. I’m sure I’m one of his service horror stories, though.