The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

March 31, 2014

When getting a smart phone almost ended up a dumb idea

BY JASON O. BOYD Staff Writer

Sunday, March 30, 2014 — I’m not an impulse buyer. And if someone wants me to make a split-second decision, unless it involves impending death, don’t hold your breath.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is not to act on things right at the moment. Usually when I do, it leads to the wrong decision or outcome. Or I hem and haw on that decision for so long, I end up changing my mind like two or three times.

This profession doesn’t always call for me to make quick decisions. But when it does, I tend to make them not because I want to, but because I have to. Most of the things I deal with daily I tend to ponder, sometimes methodically, until I reach a decision that works best.

My wife used to always want me to make the decision on where we’d go out to eat. I don’t usually care. Unless I’m going to restaurant that only serves corned beef and hash, collards and chitlins along with Greek yogurt, I typically can be happy going just about anywhere.

So when I finally decided to join the vast majority and get a new cell phone, a smart phone, I again took my sweet time.

Until now, I’ve only had four cell phones in my life. The first one I got was in the early 90s and was a rather large flip phone, at least by today’s standards. I remember that because I got so excited about my first call on that cell phone.

It was a wrong number.

I moved up in the world with a different phone a few years later that you didn’t have to flip to open. And it wasn’t the size of a rather large shoe box. Then, years later, I got a pretty standard phone from Verizon.

From there, I wised up and got a phone from Straight Talk. I like the company, and I like the price even better. I remember taking weeks to decide to make the switch and then a couple of weeks more to pick out the phone I would get.

You’d think with all the money I was going to save I would have made a quicker decision. But I had to make sure this Walmart thing wasn’t a fly-by-night operation.

I had what most people would call a dumb phone. It got the Internet but not very well. You can text and talk, take really small photos and play Uno. That’s about it.

So, when I decided I wanted to get a smart phone, I began a long and grilling journey to reach the finish line.

First, I started by reading tons of reviews on phones. I must have read hundreds of them, watched dozens of videos and built a working diagram to pick the right phone that would make Einstein’s Theory of Relatively look like nothing more than a sudoku.

When I was done, about two months later, I had picked the Samsung Galaxy SIII. It wasn’t the latest and greatest phone. But it was going to do everything I wanted and at a cheaper price than some of the phones you see these days, which cost more than what I was paying for one month’s rent in Charlotte.

Walmart had a sale on the phone, which you could get through their Family Mobile plan. I thought this would be perfect and set out on Monday to the Locust location to get it.

Only one problem: The phone, which was advertised in circulars and on the Internet and which also had a mock version of it on full display at the electronics counter, was sold out. All one of them.

The lady told me someone beat me to it. If I had known there was a race to get to it, I would have trained for it and warmed up quicker.

No problem, I thought. I’ll just go to the next Walmart. When that one didn’t have it, I went to the next one. And the next one.

Nobody had this phone. Everyone sold out. I think the largest number of phones one of the locations had was five.

That’s like feeding a charging grizzly bear a goldfish. It’s food, but it won’t stop him from eating you, too.

Now I love shopping at Walmart, something my wife tolerates about me since she dislikes the place. But this turn of events had me ready to drive to Bentonville, Ark., and punk out someone at their cooperate office.

Later in the evening, I went on the Walmart website and saw the Straight Talk version of the phone was available. It cost a bit more, but at this point I felt like I was Christopher Columbus as he saw dry land in the New World.

I’ve come this far. I’m not turning back now.

So I went to one of the Concord Walmarts where I had purchased the phone to pick it up on Tuesday. I was so anxious to get this phone, especially after all I had gone through to reach this point, I almost couldn’t contain myself.

Then, almost without surprise on my part, it took nearly an hour to finally get my hands on the phone. Why? Because the store was short-handed and nobody was working at their Site to Store location.

I guess I should have seen this coming. Sort of like when Christopher Columbus prepared to set foot on land in the New World, only to realize at the last second he was about to step into seagull poop.

Or something like that.

So I finally walked out with my phone. I had a sense of pride and accomplishment. But I didn’t have too much time to play with the new toy. I was going to the movies and the show was only minutes from starting.

So I jumped into the car and headed there. “I’ll check it out when I get home,” I thought. When I got home, I decided to watch a couple of Red Box movies before playing with the phone.

Then, around 10 a.m., when I woke up …

My wife was surprised that, as of early Thursday morning, I still had not taken the phone out of its box. It’s not like it’s going anywhere. All in good time.

I eventually got around to trying it out. It’s really neat, and I’m sure I’ll grow as attached to mine as everyone is theirs.

Besides, it took me long enough. And it’s not like I’m going to get rid of it in the next 10 or so years anyway.

Actually, let me get back to you on that.

To submit story ideas, contact Jason O. Boyd at (704) 982-2121 ext. 21 or at