The Universe Gave Me Another Smartphone And I Totally Deserved It


Mallory Ortberg dropped her smartphone in a bowl of pee. She went without a phone for two months, waiting patiently for her upgrade date, at which point she she could get a new smartphone for a low price.

The day of her upgrade date, so long and patiently awaited, turned out not to be the day of her upgrade date, but a date one year from the day of her upgrade date. She was still phoneless. She was defeated. 



Logan Sachon: Mallory can you give me an update on your phone situation?

Mallory Ortberg: I HAVE A PHONE! /releases doves /puffs of white smoke. Like how they do when they choose a pope. You know, the doves and so on.

LS: Tell me how this happened. How did this joyous feat come to pass. 

MO: So after the little flippy phone that I ordered from [SHITTY WIRELESS PROVIDER]’s website got here, I took it into one of their many retail stores and asked to have it activated. And the fellow working there said it wouldn’t work because it was a prepaid phone and I had a contract and somehow they’re incompatible. Which seemed silly because I need a phone and here’s a phone that obviously works if you open it up, surely you can perform your corporate magic somehow, Mustafa. Also I do not recall seeing the words ‘prepaid’ when I ordered the phone. But I am not the most scrupulously detailed person always, so the culpa may be mea, you know? Anyhow, I just kind of stood there helplessly asking him if there was anything he could do to help me, and he said “not really,” which I found maddeningly vague. So then I just despaired and went home and was mad for an hour and then stopped being mad

Anyhow, I complained about it at work a lot, because I’m never one to suffer in silence and some of my coworkers took pity on me and said “Oh wow, two months, that’s forever, I think I have an old [SHITTY WIRELESS PROVIDER]-enabled phone you could have. I’ll get my mom to send it.” And I sort of just didn’t care or believe them because then I was numb. Surely the phones would blow up in transit or be poisoned husks of ivory or something. But after another few weeks the Droid got here and I went in and had it activated. and it’s been so great. I posted my phone number to Twitter just because I missed getting texts so much, which was really fun. ALSO did you know that when you get a text on a Droid, it growls “DROID” at you in a very whimsical manner. Very droll.

I’m very happy. I would say the Droid is more fun than the iPhone. And it was free! Well, free minus the $50 i spent on the flip phone that didn’t work and also minus the two months’ worth of phone bills I paid when I didn’t have a phone, but other than that: free.

LS: After all of these trials you’ve been through, have you learned anything? Is there a lesson here?

MO: Nothing ever changes. I’ll probably do something to ruin this phone too. It’s inevitable. There was no lesson here except that entropy is the greatest force of all and if you avoid action and wait long enough you get free stuff from people who are tired of your passivity negatively affecting them.

These are all joke lessons. HERE IS THE REAL LESSON. The real lesson is that if you are determined enough it is worth some time and inconvenience to not spend money on a phone. Those two months were definitely worth it. I think it’s crazy for me to spend hundreds of dollars on a really nice phone when I know I can’t be trusted not to destroy it. No matter how careful I am, because I’m clumsy. So it was right to hold out for a used, sturdier phone.


Mallory Ortberg lives in San Francisco. Her phone number is on Twitter, apparently. 


12 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#22)

You know, Mallory, if you just used a chamberpot you wouldn’t have had this problem. SMDH.

Dancercise (#94)

Nah, she would have just dropped it in that.

@deepomega I’m ideologically opposed to using any phone I haven’t scavenged from the compost of my local farmers’ market.

hellonheels (#1,407)

I wholeheartedly agree with this lesson. I continued to use my last Droid for six months after completely smashing the screen (I totally had insurance on it but was on my parents’ family plan with US Cellular which is not actually a thing that exists in CA). I took a lot of abuse about it, especially from coworkers – I mean, it was so broken it was a wonder that all the glass stayed in – but mostly I enjoyed the opportunity it afforded me to be contrary. And when I finally did replace it, the rep took pity on me and gave me an old case he had lying around for free, which was a nice bonus.

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

I have that same [SHITTY WIRELESS PROVIDER] and while I find their prices fair and their service to be better than [OTHER SHITTY WIRELESS PROVIDER] in San Francisco, their policy for getting a new phone SUCKS. Basically all non-smart phones are “pre-paid” and you have to get a new phone number AND pay on your contract to get one. Totally lame. I went through the same thing a few months ago, then my mom finally took pity on me and bought me a new iPhone. Ugh.

arturica (#5,865)

@aeroaeroaero Same thing happened to me, I wanted to buy a new smartphone and the only solution was to make a contract with my network provider. Luckily my father bought me a new phone and a case from, two years have passed and the phone still looks like new.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

The lesson is INSURANCE. I just learned this after having to replace two iPhones in as many months (one shattered screen from dropping it on the Metro, and water damage from also, brilliantly, dropping the replacement in the toilet). However, I just bought a new one rather than waiting for a free one, because I am financially irresponsible.

That’s funny because I have insurance and I can’t be bothered to send in my phone for a FREE replacement, even though I keep dropping it (so far there is a huge crack in the screen and the volume rocker snapped in half so I can only turn it down, not up. NBD.)

katerrific (#374)

Yes! I have found several times in the past year that when you need a random thing in life it often works to just ask your friends and family if they have one sitting around. Things I have gotten for free this way: a microwave, Brita pitcher (both of which I asked on Facebook if anyone could loan me temporarily, and people were like “I have one in my basement; take it forever.”) moving and packing materials. Help your friends unload their junk. On you.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

Yeah getting replacement phones from friends is the best! And when that hasn’t worked for me I’ve gone the eBay route – you can get phones super cheap there.

Megano! (#124)

Nooo I missed your twitter phone number update!!!

maxiu (#6,198)

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something that I think I would never understand. czesci do bmw It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I�ll try to get the hang of it

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