Also pre-pandemic: Reg was not invited to hang out with his friends when they had a day off in late February. His classmates all have cell phones. Reg was scheduled to get his phone in high school, like his siblings before him.
Well, when the kid broke down in tears at the end of a day-off that he spent alone, I decided the original plan needed to be re-worked. I told him that if the stars aligned, I would try to find the time to get him a cell phone the next day after school.
The thing is, Ed's group of friends all had phones. They never excluded Ed. They told him their plans in advance, or had their moms text me. Tank and Mini were the same way. Well, especially Mini. Her friends would not dream of hanging out without her. Tank was a bit of a loner, liked hanging out at home and relaxing. His best buddy invited him places though. His mom and I would communicate.
This group of kids in Reggie's class: a different breed. Reg tried to explain it to me. It would be considered uncool to set something up in advance, to call a landline. The thing implied here: this one A-hole kid sets the tone, and no one wants to go against him. Don't get me started.
At any rate, Coach and I agreed that our desire to remain consistent should not interfere with our kid's social opportunities. So, I embarked on a mission to get Reg a phone. Unfortunately this would include a visit to the 3rd circle of hell, also known as Walmart.
Our phone service is Family Mobile, also known as poop. Just saying.
I am trying to remember the sequence of events here, because it was a while ago. I think Reg went to school and told his 'friends' that he was getting a phone.
Reg: Yeah, they laughed and said they didn't believe me. (How have you not blackened these kids' eyes by now?- implied, not spoken)
If there is one thing that will make things happen, it is tell me that the thing that I want to do WON'T HAPPEN. Step aside, neigh-sayers.
I went to Walmart with limited time right after school. NEVER a good idea. The usual guy, Mike, who knows stuff about phones was not at the counter. Also NOT a good sign.
I took my chances with Mr. Pokey. I warned him upfront: I have had trouble buying, replacing, troubleshooting phones here in the past. I have a limited amount of time and I am hoping you can help me.
"Obi Won Kenobi, you're my only hope!" - also implied, not spoken.
He sold me a phone and tried to send me home.
Me: Oh, no you don't. We are setting this puppy up here and now so I know it will work when I get home.
I will record this here, so if it comes up again you can all remind me. We cannot have more than 5 phones on one plan. So, Mini was on her own plan. It took awhile for the people to figure that out. Mr. Pokey called customer service and handed me the phone. I was on hold for 15 minutes. The person was working on getting my phone to work when Mr. Pokey did the unthinkable.
He hung up the phone.
Me: What the hell was that for?
Pokey: Well, you will just have to finish that at home. I can't tie up the line.
Me: I've been on hold for over 15 minutes and now I have to start all the way over. Are you freaking kidding me?
Mr. Pokey shuttered a little. As in: Oops, I have poked the bear.
I stormed out of the store. Did as he said, called from home. The people on the phone explained that Mr. Pokey had not properly set up the phone, so I had to go back into a store. There was no way to set the phone up from home.
I think I used more swear words than these customer service people had ever heard in a single phone call. After congratulating me for this accomplishment, a manager was summoned. He was astounded at my struggle with anger management. But I TOLD THE GUY NOT TO SCREW THIS UP FOR ME and he sold me a phone with a chip that wouldn't work (or a package or something, I don't recall) because he hadn't rung it up properly or something.
I drove to Curly's volleyball game. Reg was there, anticipating. I told him that I tried and it didn't work. He shrugged: It's OK.
But it wasn't OK. It was killing me.
I had to get Reg to travel basketball - this was not a night Dad was helping me drive. It was a Monday. I would drive Curly to dancing at 7. Race home, grab Reg, drive in the other direction to travel basketball by 8 (it was the last practice, and I hoped he could give kids his #), then drive back to get Curly at 9. Coach would finish work at 9 and drive in the opposite direction from home to go pick up Reg by 9:30. Just another relaxing evening.
I took a big chance (at the high school dance with a miss who was ready to play. . .) - it's a song, rare for me to break into song I know, but couldn't be helped . . . there was a Walmart between home and dancing. A different Walmart. Maybe it was not filled with Doo-Doo heads.
I convinced myself it wasn't worth it. It might take too long. I had to return whatever Mr. Pokey sold me by mistake before heading to the phone department. Despite convincing myself to just drive past the Walmart, I found myself in the parking lot.
I waited for 5 costly minutes in the return line. The woman ahead of me had nothing in her hand but a piece of paper. Layaway? No idea but it was taking forever and when I asked "How long is this going to be?" the Walmart employee and Ms. Piece of Paper glared at me.
I exited the line before things escalated and I had to turn them into dust with my lazer eyes, glare at me will you? I stormed to the phone counter. It was a young kid. I told him my predicament. Told him to just even exchange what I had so I didn't have to wait in the return line. Begged him to help me. I believe I also shared what little weasel-heads Reg went to school with.
We figured out that our family has 2 accounts. Reg needed to be added to the account where Mini, the cheese stands alone, is on her own. The guy got me a SIM card or whatever. He set up the phone while I waited on hold accessing the accounts and what-have-you. I guessed my password to the 2nd family account on the first try. The sky was opening and the roof was peeled back from that Walmart building and rays of light shone down on us. I swear.
I grabbed the phone and told the young kid that I was about to kiss him and that he was a prince. I believe he blushed.
I bolted to the car. I called our landline using Reg's new cell phone. He answered.
Me: Um, I'm calling from your new phone (that just so happened to have been assigned a totally cool number that is super easy to remember).
My ecstatic kid: WHAT? I THOUGHT YOU DIDN'T HAVE TIME. THANKS MOMMY!
That is the somewhat happy ending to my kid's first phone and how nice was it for him to be able to connect with friends while in lock-down?
So, should we just gloss over his COMPLETE AND UTTER ADDICTION to said phone that is presently making Coach and I pull our hair out? Even though we read him the riot act:
'FIRST KID TO GET A PHONE THIS EARLY. BE RESPONSIBLE. DON'T OVER DO IT!'
Let's just leave it at the happy place where Walmart employees have downloaded a photo of me from the internet that they use in dart throwing contests, and my kid thinks I am a rock-star, shall we?