the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Extremely Short Tales of Cell Phones


Story One — The Bar in Queens 

I left New York rather quickly last month, so I don’t think I publicly said how much I enjoyed seeing Sandra, Caitlin, Anonymous City Girl, Tatyana, and Claudette. 

One of the funniest meetings was with Caitlin and her boyfriend, Billy.  We planned to meet in a bar in Queens.  I arrived a few minutes early and was waiting by the jukebox in front.  Some pretty girl walked in and stared at me for a second and then just passed me by.  She sat at the bar.  I looked over at her and she looked my way, but then she turned away and ignored me.  She started a conversation with the guy sitting next to her at the bar.

I continued to wait for Caitlin and Billy. 

Every few minutes, I felt someone looking at me.  It was that girl at the bar.  I would look over at her and she would look away.  Now, the guy at the bar turned to me for a second, then turned away.

Was this Caitlin and Billy?  And why don’t they come over to me?  Isn’t it apparent that I am waiting for them by the front entrance?  It can’t be them.  Wouldn’t Caitlin and Billy come together?  Maybe this girl at the bar just thinks my overcoat looks funny and she is making fun of me?  Should I go over to them?  Will that dude who is talking to her think I am cutting in and kick my ass in the alley?

I came up with the perfect solution.  Caitlin had called me on my phone earlier, so I had her phone number stored in memory.  I’ll call her up and if this girl answers the phone, I’ll know it is her. If not, I’ll know that she hasn’t arrived yet.

I dialed Caitlin’s phone number.  A phone rang at the bar and the girl answered.

Caitlin:  Hello.

She looked my way.

Neil:  Hi, I think this is me and you are you.

Caitlin:  Oh, hi!

Neil:  What should we do now?  Should I go over there?

Caitlin:  Sure.  Thanks for calling!

Neil:  Anytime.  Nice speaking to you.  Bye!

Caitlin:  Bye-bye!

It was Caitlin… and Billy.  We sat down in the restaurant area to order some dinner.  We noticed that patrons at different tables were eating completely different types of food:  Chinese food, pizza, and even fried chicken.  “What a diverse menu!” I said.  It ended up being that since the bar didn’t serve food, they handed everyone a bunch of take-out menus, and patrons just got food delivered to their table from some outside restaurant.  So, I used my phone again and ordered some pizza.


Story Two — The Free Phone

Last year, I received a free Sprint phone and six months of service as part of the Sprint Ambassador Program for bloggers.  I wasn’t required to write about the phone on my blog but (wink wink).   Sophia was so jealous that she emailed them and convinced them to send HER a second phone since she was my blog editor.

Six months later, the gig was up.  Bloggers around the country said good-bye to their Sprint phones.  Sophia, of course, found it difficult to say goodbye.  She loved playing with all the applications.  She even used the GPS program she downloaded on the phone as she walked around New York.  She convinced me to write a suck-up post to Sprint so we could be participants in the new “phase” of the Sprint Ambassador program.  It didn’t work.  My days of free stuff for blogging came to an end, and I went back to paying for my measly phone service like the rest of you suckers.  It was my own fault.  I didn’t pimp them enough AND I never really gave them any feedback.  Honestly, I didn’t use any of the cool applications other than reading my blog comments on the phone.  On the other hand, Sophia downloaded music, played “Lemonade,” text messaged, watched TV, etc. and had an opinion on every single thing about the phone, including the size of the buttons, and emailed Sprint all the time, telling them how they could do it better.

So, guess which of us got a NEW phone for another six months for this Sprint Ambassador Program?  And which of us was refused as a participant for being a promotional dud?


Story Three — Stupid Commercial

I really hate that new Cingular ad where these two dudes have just downloaded The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” on their phone and are singing it incorrectly as “Lock the Cashbox.”

At first it bothered me because they were mangling one of my favorite songs and making me feel old, but on second thought I just found it insulting to the intelligence of Cingular’s customers, such as myself.  Those idiots just DOWNLOADED a song titled “Rock the Casbah” and they can’t figure out what the refrain is?  Didn’t they have to look it up first to download it?

“Dude, I just downloaded “Rock the Casbah” but I can’t understand what these British guys are saying.  Is it “Lock the Cashbox?” 

The real idiots are the copywriters that created this one.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  CES: Day Two


  1. M.A.

    That Cingular commercial annoys me as well. I’m also not a big enough commercial success to get anything free from blogging–I keep hoping for a free book or something.

    Oh Well.

  2. paintergirl

    I’m offended by that cingular commercial too. The Clash are brilliant and it goes to show you how ad agencies dumb everything down. Pathetic. I could go on and on about the downfall of society through ads and branding, but I won’t.
    You ordered food to a bar? How fun is that. Only in New York.

  3. Neil

    MA – That’s exactly the point I’m making about Sophia. If you have enough chutzpah, people will give you free stuff for blogging when you DON’T even have a blog. I have NONE of that skill. But when you write your definite biography of Shakespeare or sell your first CD, I expect a free copy.

  4. Leesa

    Heh.. I thought they said, “Lock the Catbox” when they got it wrong.

    Yeah, dumb commercial.

  5. kapgar

    Is that what’s going on in that Cingular commercial. Tried watching it once. Now I just TiVo through it.

  6. laurie

    I thought THE SAME THING about that commercial! I hate it! It makes me crazy!

  7. psychomom

    I hate BMW’s screaming kid commercial. Sorry, kids shouldn’t scream like that unless you just smacked them and gave them a reason to scream.

    As for the Cingular commercial, my son asked me, “what’s a Casbah?” I said it was a bar. Who’s stupid now?

  8. Grace

    AND, It says the name of the song/refrain, RIGHT ON THE PHONE!!!
    It makes my brain melt.
    “Excuse me while I kiss this guy,” would have been way more appropriate.

  9. deezee

    Never saw the Cingular commercial, and I completely believe you that it’s idiotic and insulting. I also see that not only do you remember it, you’ve blogged about it, so those idiot ad copy writers are achieving exactly what they wanted.

    In other words, how do we show disdain without stoking their fire? (call for a mass exodus to another cell provider who undoubtedly is just as annoying? life is a conundrum…)

  10. Scarlet

    I got a free CD once on my blog, but that’s it. I wish Verizon would give me more text messages per month.

  11. EEK

    Agreed, that is a dumb commercial. It’s not as bad as Joan Cusack’s for US Cellular, though. If I had US Cellular as a provider, those commercials alone would make me switch to another carrier.

  12. Churlita

    Everyone I work with kept telling me how funny that commercial was. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time trying to catch it.

    And what was the deal with Caitlin? Did you ask her why she didn’t come over and get you?

  13. Tatyana

    Yes, about those ethics (and the Sprint phone): here.

  14. Neil

    Thanks, Tatyana. That is a great article and I agree with him. But I can’t throw a brick at a glass house. It wouldn’t be easy to say no to Microsoft if they offered me a free PC with Vista on it.

    I’m curious if anyone else would just say no?

  15. Sweet

    Oh yeah totally stupid I agree. Although, was it Sprint that did the ‘Secret Lovers’ commercial? Actually I’m thinking it’s Nextel. Love that one.

  16. Neil

    De-Lurking Post will be back!

  17. deezee

    Say no to Microsoft and Vista? In a heartbeat! Mac girl here.

  18. Bice

    So, as Cingular customer, are you gonna get the new iPhone Apple announced today? You are a Mac user aren’t you? You strike me as a Mac user.

  19. Tatyana

    Thank your lucky stars, N, that you’re not in a key position to get contracts through for construction industry. You’d be bombarded with offers.
    Temptations, temptations…

  20. ElizaF

    So prior to cellphones, the three of you would still be in that bar making curious glances at each other….

  21. V-Grrrl

    If Neil had had his penis ask the girl at the bar if she was Caitlin, it would have been a better story, but the cell phone version isn’t bad. ; )

  22. V-Grrrl

    OK, I read the article Tatyana linked to. There’s an enormous difference between a personal blog and one that dedicates a lot of space to providing product reviews and tech advice. I can understand why a “reviewer” might have ethical concerns about accepting free products, but I think those concerns can be overblown.

    Blogs by nature are personal and subjective. They’re built around the personality and viewpoint of a single writer. I don’t expect a blog to “objective,” I expect it to be authentic and true to the writer, and I expect a blog to convey a sense of the writer’s personality and biases over time. I don’t expect a blogger to automatically adopt the same standards journalists embrace. If they choose to, that’s fine, but me the blogosphere is like the op-ed section of the newspaper. I take what I read with a grain of salt.

    Would I accept freebies? If the product interested me, you bet I would!

  23. Non-Highlighted Heather

    I’m curious if anyone else would just say no?

    Well, I can’t speak for him personally, but I happen to know the shareef don’t like it.

  24. Neil

    I would say no if I were required to write something good about it. But if not, why not?

  25. Spinning Girl

    A bar that hands out take-out menus = genius level!

  26. liz elayne

    so all three of these stories have me laughing out loud. but you read my mind about the last one! that commercial totally bugs. and makes no sense. hate it…

    thanks for always making me laugh neil.

  27. Zoely

    i only read as far as you being in NY…You were in NY and failed to contact ME? The pole dancer? WTF?? I would have behaved very nicely with you. I’m deeply offended.

  28. Karl

    Everybody knows it’s “stop the catbox.”

  29. sandra

    Back atcha, Neil.

  30. Roonie

    Those idiots just DOWNLOADED a song titled “Rock the Casbah” and they can’t figure out what the refrain is?

    You’re reading my mind again, aren’t you?

  31. tracy

    I happened upon your blog while procrastinating cleaning my house. Fun!
    I, too, was scratching my head about the Cingular ad. As a former ad writer, I’d say it’s a good concept, poorly executed. There are plenty other lyrics that are butchered that aren’t the title of the song! How about “Blinded by the light, wrapped up like a …” (written by Springsteen, by the way)

  32. Jennifer

    I totally agree with you regarding the commercial. The title clearly flashes on the screen when they download it. I had a similar issue when dragged to see “The Holiday”. The Jude Law character keeps getting phone calls from girls named Olivia and Sophie; turns out they are his very young daughters, so why do they come up individually on his cell phone?? Does each girl have her own phone?? Does plucky little 3 year old Olivia have her very own mobile? Or perhaps 6 year old Sophie was the first in her kindergarten class to get a cell phone. Really ruined the movie for me!

  33. Caitlin

    You know something f***ed up? I just read this post today for the first time. And it’s hilarious! Because that is EXACTLY the way it happened!

    We needs must meet again the next time you are in town, Neilochka.

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