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My Big Cell Phone

Fellas. Don’t ever believe a woman who says that size doesn’t matter. That notion couldn’t be more false.

Recently at dinner, while sitting across from a classmate who I wouldn’t mind impressing, I got a phone call. When I took my phone from my pocket, I heard a collective gasp that bordered on a shriek.

“What’s that?” the classmate said.

“It’s my cellphone,” I replied, while turning off the ringer to discard the incoming call. There was a sarcastic ‘duh’ hiding behind my words.
She continued, “It can’t be, it’s too huge.”

A giant smile grew on my face as I couldn’t resist my juvenile tendencies. “Thanks,” I said while giving high-fives with my eyes to all of the guys around the table who were paying attention to the conversation.

“That’s not at all a good thing. My God, it’s like a payphone.”
At this point, let me tell you a little more about my portable pay phone. I was an early adopter of Kyocera’s Smartphone – one of the first American phones that combined a tri-mode phone with a palm pilot. I needed a palm pilot, as I was and still am poorly organized, as well as a new cell phone.

When receiving the phone, my first thought was “Hey, it’s not too big.” Not that big, of course, is a relative statement. Relative as a portable phone to a house, it’s small. However, looking at the phone forces the onlooker to conjure up an image of a military radio or a gray, thick antennaed, 1984 Miami Vice coke dealer phone.

Due to some MBA, the world is under tremendous, inexplicable pressure to shrink phones each year and excommunicate any person with last year’s phone model. Buying a new phone that is above the currently acceptable size of a Ritz cracker borders on blasphemy.

Early on, I was in the denial stage, the first stage of the Smartphone process. When people would insult me and then my phone in that order, I would flaunt the phone’s features, just like I was paid for product placement.

…it’s a phone and palm pilot. No more copying names numbers and addresses. It’s all in one convenient place.

It was the quintessential consultant phone and I touted it as such.
While some nodded in agreement others continued insulting the phone (and me) with jabs like:
“Are you the telephone repairman?”
“Can I borrow your cash register?”
“Does your vending machine have Coke?”
“Are you checking the air quality?”
“Is that a graphing calculator?”
“Shall I take you to our leader? I’ll do it, just put that thing away.”

Even random children joined in on the good laughs by asking me why I was talking into my remote control.

The jokes flung me into the second stage: acceptance, the self-deprecating David Spade stage. I played into my handicap. When people would respond to the phone, I would no longer open the flip to reveal the phone’s thousand and one qualities. It got to the point that I not only made jokes about the phone, but would arbitrarily take it out without cause and shout, “Hey, look at my big phone.”

Quickly, I realized that this wouldn’t take me very far, and that this wasn’t the kind of life that I wanted to live.

Which led me to the last stage, where I reside now: the “I hate this phone and I hope I lose it” phase. Ironically, the Kyocera is theoretically a great phone. I say in theory because it locks more than a prison warden. It’s also had one mechanical problem after another. And it’s more fragile than a Wharton MBA’s self-esteem while in Boston. Worst of all, it’s super-sized. But it’s convenient and it has served every purpose that I wanted it to, from date book to anchor.

All of the above said, you cannot get a girl with this phone regardless of your game, looks, build, clothes or money. You could be Taye Diggs. If you take this phone out at a club, even the band camp girl will shut you down.

My only recourse after seeing the phone in action, was to try to lose the damn thing. But of course, it’s a called a Smartphone for a reason, and thus it’s always found its way home. The only problem with trying to lose the phone is that, like a typical HBS student, I’m concerned about return on investment. The phone which retails for $99 now cost nearly $500 when I bought it (sucker). I figure that I will give it another six months before I try to lose the phone again.

Surprisingly, I’ve noticed that two of my section mates also had the Smartphone (both guys). Before HBS, I had only met one other person with the phone. Immediately, I had approached my section mates to start a support group. I wanted to tell then that I understood how they felt, and that it wasn’t their fault.

October 28, 2002
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