Love / Hate.
Except that I don’t happen to have a hammer on me. And I haven’t hit a man since I was a teenager. And I’m in a perfectly civilised mobile phone shop. And I don’t really want to know what Prison Love is actually like.
I hate my mobile phone. Because. You know. It’s a mobile phone and that. They are essentially hateful items.
But I also love it. It was a Christmas present. It is shiny and looks nice. And. Get this. Not only is it a mobile phone – it’s a bloody camera as well!
Let the good times roll.
It is also my only means of internet access, for reasons too tiresome to recount here.
But there is a cloud upon this utopian horizon.
I don’t really know how it works. I am reliably informed that people can send me messages of a text variety that also include pictures. Imagine it. Words and visuals. It’s like fucking Buck Rogers or something. But without the whole spaceshuttle-being-frozen-for-five-centuries tiresomeness.
Somebody sends me such a message, and I cannot open it. Grr. I could refer to the manual, but am not yet ready to taste those bitter ashes of defeat.
I do some research on the inter-course. It takes ages and I get nowhere. The phone’s GPRS thing is only faintly more frustrating than Ceefax.
I resolve to go into the shop it was purchased from and demand to know why I have no idea how to use it. And they’d better read the manual themselves quick-smart and tell me the things that I don’t know because I’m a busy man, am wearing a suit so therefore must be Important and have a limited amount of time.
Walking into the shop. I locate the poorly-signposted Customer Services desk. And stand there for five minutes. Whilst several youths with ‘interesting’ hair and who sport clothing bearing the insignia of the mobile phone shop mill about in a disinterested manner.
It is clear to them that I am not here to sign-up to an eighteen-month contract named, inexplicably, after an animal.
I am grinding my teeth.
Staff to customer ratio is eight to one. Me being the one.
Somebody lopes resentfully around the counter.
I am already clenching and un-clenching my fists. Without realising.
He looks at me in a vacant, slack-jawed manner.
Mobile Phone Youth: ‘Sup.
MPY: ‘Sup fella?
Silence for a while. His name tag states, improbably, that its wearer is named Cornelius.
MPY: What can I do for you?
Me: Right. [Brandish phone] There’s something wrong with the MMS er thing. Could you have a look? It was purchased here.
MPY gingerly takes phone and taps at the keypad for some time.
I begin to let out the knots of tension from my shoulders. There is a professional on the case. Everything will be Fine.
Some time passes.
MPY: Do you know how to unlock it?
Me: I’ve no problem with the network provider. So I don’t care.
MPY: Yeah. But do you know how to?
Aha. He is testing me. He is trying to get the measure of me as a customer. Wants to know my level of mobile phone knowledge and, by extension, my knowledge of all things Manly.
Me: I’m sure I could generate an unlock code from the IMEI number but that really isn’t the issue in this case.
He looks taken aback. Ha. Got you, you young scamp. Just because I don’t have a stupid haircut and don't have excellent sex with beautiful 20-year-old Vanessa Paradis looky likeys every Saturday night doesn’t mean I don’t know a thing or two.
He brandishes my phone at me.
MPY: Can you unlock it for me? Please.
Oh fuck. Oh surely not.
Me: The keypad?
Me: You want me to show you how to unlock the keypad?
MPY nods, looking at me as though I were an idiot.
I take my phone from him. I do not have a hammer.