Chapter 1 – (not quite) Love At First Sight

My very first mobile phone was (I think) a Nokia 638. It couldn’t surf the web or do SMS; it just made calls. Oh, and it was blue. I didn’t even want it, but a buddy of mine bought it for me as a birthday present; all I had to do was sign a two-year contract and pay the monthly airtime bills. How thoughtful.

Back in mid-1990s Toronto (where I live) pay phones were still cheap and plentiful, and most of my time was spent either at home or in the theatre where I worked. For me, a cell phone was an unnecessary luxury.

It was a different story for my generous friend. He was an up-and-coming director of photography for music videos and TV commercials. He was always on location somewhere, and needed a mobile phone to secure his next gig, even while working the current one. He bought his Nokia first, the same model as mine but in a bright yellow housing. He loved it so much that he bought a matching yellow hard case for it — not a form-fitting case as we know it today but a small hard case with a handle, filled with foam and a cavity cut out for the device.

I needed no such protection for my Nokia; it went almost straight from the box to the bottom of my desk drawer, with the power shut off and battery removed. Starving comedian that I was I could barely afford to pay my bill, let alone risk going over my monthly allotment of minutes. I did take it out with me once to do a show at another theatre, where good fortune smiled upon me — my phone was stolen from the dressing room. Freedom!

But getting out of the contract with my carrier was another matter altogether. When I called Bell Mobility to cancel my service I was pushed to accept a replacement phone for only a little less than the two hundred or so Canadian dollars my buddy paid for the original. I politely declined. The price immediately dropped to a hundred. Nope. Then fifty. Really not interested… Finally it was offered to me for free. And a week or so later, a second grey version of the phone I never wanted showed up at my door.

Shortly afterwards the police called me up with the good news that my stolen blue Nokia had been recovered. Great, so now I had two phones, two batteries and two chargers entombed in the bowels of my desk. They stayed there for at least a year, until I gave them both away to someone I found through an online charity service.

This would be the first time I had two working mobile devices in my home simultaneously, but certainly not the last.