February 28th, 2005

On Phones

Everyone used to laugh at my phone. It was one of the first "smartphones", which meant it was way too expensive, and was so confusing that everyone I lent it to for a quick phone call ended up throwing it back at me and calling me a dork. So this phone could work as a universal remote control, could convert light years to rods and I could install thousands of PalmOS applications on it. This of course meant it only had 6 ringtones, and they all sounded like they came from an Atari 2600. Still, I had $600 invested in this machine, which was simultaneously obscenely over-complicated and embarrassingly obsolete, so I held onto it as long as possible.

All my friends had gotten all of the goofy phone jokes out of their system, so I was comfortable until I moved. Here in LA, nobody had seen the beast, so I finally retired it. The new phone has a camera and allows me to make and upload ringtones, putting me right on the cutting edge of 3 years ago.

In my type of job, it's common to receive lots of text messages, and they're never good news. When you're responsible for computer systems, you never get anything that says, "Hey, just wanted to let you know everything's cool. Take it easy, man." No, they're always bad news, and they usually mean I have to get my ass out of bed to stumble to a PC in the middle of the night. The worse the problem, the more pages. This makes for all sorts of pavlovian badness that gets associated with whatever noise the phone makes when it's paged.

With my fancy almost-modern phone, I decided it would be cool to pick the most enjoyable clip to play on text messages to help offset pager-shock. Hey, there's a problem, but I totally dig this song, I figured. So it's been the intro Lover I Don't Have to Love by Bright Eyes, which was easy to isolate, sounds good on a crappy speaker, and is pretty soothing.

Well, 6 moths later, I've heard the phone more than the song, so that's the part of my mind the little sound lives. The song came on the radio just now, and my first reaction was total confusion, like the toaster was making a doorbell sound. I realized what was happening, and smirked a little, but the sound was so grating it took everything I had to listen the whole way through. The song is totally ruined. I tried to just sit back and enjoy it, but all I could think of was why can't someone just answer the fucking phone!?

So there it is. One song ruined, and I can't turn off the TV with my phone anymore.