the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Sprint Phone and the Ticking Clock


A year ago, I wrote about being offered a free Sprint phone as part of the Sprint Ambassador Program for bloggers.   All the service, music, TV on the phone and other special doodads were included for free for 6 months.  Sophia, being the gadget freak of the family, was extremely jealous, so much so that she convinced Sprint that she should get one too as my blog editor. 

After six months, the service was cut off and Sophia went into severe withdrawal.   She insisted that I pimp myself out on my blog so Sprint would include us in Phase II of their Ambassador Program.  What I didn’t realize was, that during the six months, Sophia had been giving Sprint extensive feedback on the phone and the various services, which explained why Sprint offered Sophia a different free phone for Phase II, but told me to go to hell and use the Devil’s pay phone.

Phase II is now coming to an end, and all week, Sophia has been acting all jittery.  She even kicked me out of bed a few nights ago, saying there wasn’t enough room for the two of us AND her Sprint phone all in the same bed.   The next morning, I found the two of them cuddling together, the flip-top of the LG Fusic phone leaning comfortably on the softness of Sophia’s right breast, singing her a love song that was a free purchase, of course, under the terms of the Ambassador Program.

Two nights ago, we were driving home from the Valley, stuck in traffic on the 405.  Sophia was reading her email on her phone.

“Oh God!  Sprint is announcing Phase III!   They’re already chosen the participants, but are leaving 100 slots for previous Ambassadors!  The first 100 people… First come, first served!  Stop the car!  We need to sign up.”

“Can’t we wait until we get home?”

“Are you crazy?  It’s only 100 people!  And it’s some brand new exciting-sounding phone.”

“Can’t you sign up ON the phone?”

“No, we have to go online.  I have the laptop in the trunk.  We need to find some place with wi-fi.”

“We’ll be home in a half hour.”

She glanced down at her mobile Yahoo account.

“Look, there’s another email for you.  They’re offering you a chance to sign up, too!”

“They are?  That changes everything!   We need to stop the car right now!”

I twirled the steering wheel, exiting the freeway, nearly causing three accidents, all that time thinking who gets to sign up for the phone first.  After all – it’s first come, first served.

Right off the freeway was a McDonald’s.

“McDonald’s has wi-fi.”

“They do?”

“Yeah, they all do.  It’s like $2.95 an hour.”

“OK, let’s do it.”

We pulled into McDonald’s.  Sophia set up the laptop as I ordered a diet Coke, not because I was thirsty, but because I felt weird sitting there without ordering something.  Microsoft Windows booted up, but we didn’t receive any wireless signal.  

My luck.  I picked the only McDonald’s in Los Angeles County without wi-fi.

“There must be a Starbucks around here,” said Sophia.

“Do you know how much wi-fi is in Starbucks?!”

“Now’s not the time to be chintzy.  The clock is ticking.”

I visualized bloggers around the country typing on their PCs, signing up for a free phone while some Sprint executive was sitting in Sprint headquarters counting down how many of those hundred extra phones were left to hand out first come, first serve. 

Sprint Executive:  “100… 99… 98… 97…”

It felt like we were in an episode of “24,” and the split-screen was filling up with several different events all happening at once —

1)  Sophia adjusting the laptop in different directions, hoping to steal some wi-fi.

2)  Neil asking the McDonald’s manager for the location of the nearest Starbucks.

3)   The Sprint executive packing phones into boxes, one by one —

Sprint Executive:  “91…90… 89…88…”

“I have an idea!” I told Sophia.  “We can use the Sprint phone from Phase II to help us get the Sprint phone from Phase III.”

Sophia nodded, understanding my suggestion.  The Phase II Sprint phone came with a USB cord that you could connect to the laptop, so you could use the phone as a modem.

I ran outside to the parking lot to search the glove compartment of Sophia’s Prius for the USB data cord.

Sprint Executive:  “81… 80… 79… 78…”

I “sprinted” back into the fast-food joint, clutching the cord.  We connected everything together — the laptop into McDonald’s outlet, the modem into the USB slot, the data cord into the Sprint phone.  As we were about to make lift-off, the phone started to beep and sputter.  Uh-oh, it was seriously out of juice.

“I told you to charge it last night!” yelled Sophia.

“It’s your phone.  Not mine! I don’t have the Phase II fancy-schmancy phone like you do!”  I screamed back.

As in any tense situation, the affected parties began to blame each other for the miserable turn of events.

“Wait…wait…wait….” I shouted.  “I have that emergency Energizer phone charger that Chelle sent me for my birthday!   It’s in the car, still in the package!”

If ever another blogger had saved my marriage, this surely was it.

I ran to the car again. 

Sprint Executive:  “61… 60… 59…”

By the time I rushed back in, holding Chelle’s gift, everyone in the McDonald’s was staring at us, wondering if we doing some top secret government work.

Sprint Executive:  “52… 51…”

All I had to do now was open the package, but it was impossible to do, either with your hands… or with a McDonald’s plastic fork.    I cursed Energizer and their Bunny.    Luckily, a car key finally did the job and sliced the plastic.   I extracted the emergency charger and tried to plug it into the Sprint phone, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it fit.

“Can’t you read?!” said Sophia, annoyed.  “This charger is for your Nokia phone, not for my Sprint LG Phone.”

“Why do they have to make this electronics crap so complicated?!”

Sophia and I glared at each other.  Things were getting worse by the second.  Visions of divorce papers floated over our heads, all because of our greediness for this new Sprint phone.

Sprint Executive:  “48… 47… 46… 45… 44…”

Our quest seemed hopeless.  But as “The Secret” has shown us, if you believe it, good things can happen.

“Over here!  Come over here!”  called out a Voice.  Was it God?

No.  It was some Asian guy in a UCLA shirt, sitting with his Pocket PC on the other side of McDonald’s, beckoning to us.

“If you come over here you can steal wi-fi from the 1-800-Mattress store next door!”

We quickly made the move to the other side of the McDonald’s, right next to the display for their new “Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap.”   The good Samaritan’s kindness made us feel guilty for the harsh words we exchanged with each other.  We told each other how much we loved each other, and begged that the OTHER sign up first.

“You go first,” I told Sophia.

“No, no, you go.” she said.

The clock was still ticking. 

Sprint Executive:  “31… 30… 29… 28…”

“Well, one of us should sign up already!  Go.” she said.

“OK, if you insist!”

Sprint Executive:  “21… 20…19…”

Frankly, I was really glad I was going first.  I mean, Sophia is great and all, but I AM the blogger.  I’m the one who deserves the phone, right?  I signed up for the Sprint Ambassador Program, Phase III.  It took me about ten minutes, because I had some technical problems.  I received a message that I would be under consideration. 

“My turn!  My turn!” cried Sophia, almost pulling her curly hair out.  I gave her the laptop and she signed up as well.  She got the same message:  under consideration.

Today, Sophia received an email that she was accepted.  They loved all the feedback that she has been giving Sprint.   Her new Sprint phone was in the mail. 

I checked my email.  I received nothing except for a few more spams telling me where to get some Viagra on the cheap. 


  1. better safe than sorry

    come on neil, be a man, kick that phone out of your bed!!!

  2. Jazz

    All this drama for a cellphone? Whoa, the mind boggles.

    I really need to get one of those things to see what all the fuss is about. Or not.

  3. plain jane

    I held my breath. The suspense was unbearable.

    Rats. Foiled by the beautiful Russian spy again.

  4. Karl

    Wow, “24” is out. Neil and Sophia’s quest for ambassadorship, in.

  5. Sizzle

    but that viagra could come in handy with sophia so elated about her new phone…


  6. Mist 1

    McDonalds has wi-fi?

    Can I use it in the drive thru?

  7. Bre

    That’s quite an adventure for a phone! Of course, there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for my blackberry, so clearly I understand!

  8. Dagny

    Congrats to Sophia on the new phone. Of course, I never doubted that she would receive it.

  9. Hilly

    Phew, I know Sophia needs that phone to deliver all of us necessary information, like what “waffling” is. I think you just need to kiss a little more Sprint bootay, Neil ;).

    By the way, you guys are better than 24, hands down!

  10. wendy

    My husband and I almost came to blows over a sprint contract I signed last week…It must be in the air…..

  11. psychomom

    1-800-Mattress has wi-fi?

  12. wordgirl

    Obviously, I’m practically a Luddite since very little of what you said made sense to me. I’m sure it made sense to the rest of the world, but maybe that’s because no one is offering me a new phone.

  13. Eileen

    It is a sad commentary on my life that I was completely riveted by this story. I was emotionally invested far beyond what can be considered normal or healthy

  14. girl and dog

    I’m not kidding you, I was hanging on to every word of your post with a pounding heart, exactly like a “24” episode! 😀

  15. kapgar

    Sorry, man. The world loves Sophia. I guess that includes cell companies, too.

    Maybe you should go back and re-edit some past posts to include favorable cellphone reviews. Then you have a leg to stand on.

  16. V-Grrrl

    Neil, your marriage would be better if you concentrated on scoring a FREE mattress from the people you stole wi-fi from. You know, it would be a good place to use the viagra.

  17. Churlita

    Mattresses, free merchandise, hot russian spy chicks and cheap viagra…It sounds like a perfect day.

  18. Jennifer

    Not only should Sprint send you a new phone, you should get merchandise from McDonald’s and coca cola as well for all the product endorsements you did! I bet 1-800-MATRRESS will see a huge spike in buisiness after this post!

  19. The Cynical Girl

    I can absolutely hook you up with cheap ED drugs. I can’t do much about the phone. I will say that I adored the South Park tribute to 24, the other night.

  20. Noel

    My favorite part is that you had to ask for directions to the nearest Starbucks. Where I live, the answer is “walk one block in any direction.” Worldwide Plaza is an office building which has two Starbucks in it. I never go there because I prefer coffee that, you know, tastes good.

  21. Postmodern Sass

    Sophia doesn’t get speeding tickets. Sophia gets free phones. Such a valuable learning opportunity you have, Neil Grasshopper.

  22. Blitz Krieg

    If someone mailed me a dollar I’d send them my piece of crap company phone. If I see Jeremy Piven one more time hawking Cincinnati Bell’s cellular service, Entourage is coming off my “to watch” list.

  23. Ariel

    Only in America eh! Interesting and puzzling in equal measures.

  24. Monkey

    I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I could barely breathe.

    Five stars! Much better than 24 or whatever that show is called.

  25. littlepurplecow

    This is a fabulous post.

  26. brooke

    Jack Bauer would have gotten the phone. If not he’d have tied them up and gouged out their eyes.

  27. Lisa

    Wow. That’s some serious stress! Even just reading it was stressing me out! Glad Sophia got the phone.

  28. Eileen Dover

    Add me to the readers who were on edge with stress.

    Damnit! I cannot handle countdowns! I can’t handle races.

    I’m retiring myself to the cesspool of humankind, where I spend my days listening to Gregorian chants and ordering from the seniors menu.

    PS. I’ve been with Sprint for eons. Where’s my love for testing out a new phone, hmm?

  29. Iron Fist

    I was at the edge of my seat for this entire post. Gripping excitement! Who would have guessed that bloggers had such action-packed lives?

  30. Heather B.

    Tell me that this phone is a cell phone, time machine and SLR camera trifecta. Or at least it has an MP3 player or something.

  31. teahouseblossom

    The LG phone? The Asian guy who beckoned to you? It’s clear that you have the ASIANS to thank for saving your marriage!


  32. Pauly D

    I was lucky enough to get asked to be in Phase III. My phone should arrive soon. I’m giddy with excitement.

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