This is probably a routine occurrence for most people, at least those who’ve owned cell phones before 2008. But not for me. My cell phone battery died last Thursday. It happened very quickly.
I had just chatted with my girlfriend, then my son, they my girlfriend again, and I noticed my phone needed a charge. So I plugged it in, still turned on. (It was almost bedtime and it makes a great nightlight.)
Next morning, I noticed the light was gone. The display was black and lifeless. My mood soon followed.
I was at a loss. What to do? The only idea that came to mind was to visit the dreaded Verizon store in town, to get a new battery. I say ‘dreaded’ because I’ve never had a positive experience there. Maybe this time, though, everything would work out. I decided to go on my lunch break.
I daydreamed about it as I waited for the noon hour. There would be an empty parking space close to the store. The greeter would be pleasant and the wait short. The man behind the counter would be super helpful, like out of a 1950’s TV sitcom: “Yes sir! We have that battery in stock. Let me see your phone, I’ll just pop it in for you. There! That’ll be 99 cents.”
That was the dream. Reality was a bit crueler. Here’s what actually happened:
There was no parking anywhere, on any side of the building. I know this because I drove all the way around it. I had to re-enter a busy street and park next to a supermarket. I entered the store. The greeter, a young woman, gave me a half-friendly, half-wary look, as if she wasn’t quite sure about me. I delivered the bad news. “My cell phone battery died.”
She looked at me quizzically, waiting for more information. I gave it to her. “I need a new one.”
I pulled the phone out of my pocket to show her, and suddenly a cloud darkened her face. It was as if I’d pulled out a dead rodent instead of a shiny silver and black phone.
“Oh,” she muttered. “I don’t think they make those anymore.” Even so, she turned to add my name to the computerized list. I was fourth in line for “technical service.”
As I waited, I browsed the store. I also studied the people. Nobody looked happy. An elderly couple slumped in one of the few seats. A teenager and her mom were closing in on a purchase. A manager announced he was taking his 90 minute lunch break.
As I was looking at the cool, new, latest-thing phones, the greeter came up behind me. “I just asked,” she said. “They don’t make batteries for those anymore.”
One question came to my mind. “Who is ‘they’?”
“LG – the company that makes the phone. Nothing to do with us.”
I glanced at the phone again, noticing the elegant ‘Verizon’ logo and bright red checkmark emblazoned on the top. “So now what?” I asked in a plaintive voice. I needed this phone. She would make it better. She had to.
“Well, I can set you up with our sales department.”
My optimism crumbled. So there it was. Verizon had no interest in getting me a battery and back in business quickly. But they were very interested in selling me an expensive new phone. The manager who was on his extra-long lunch would be very proud of her.
My feet were already headed for the door, but they halted for a few seconds. I turned to the greeter, held up the phone, and said, “It’s only three years old.” Another unhappy customer walked by, holding up his own modern looking phone. “Join the club,” he said with a rueful smile.
The greeter said nothing, which was just as well.
I went home that night, found the battery online (for about 15 bucks) and ordered it. With luck I should have a working phone by Tuesday.
PS – it actually arrived on Wednesday (last night). It was charged and ready to go. Thanks, anonymous California battery place!