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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No Bills No Contracts No Evil -or- May I Call You Royal?

With our next Vegas trip starting very, very soon - tomorrow! - I took a moment to congratulate myself on finding the best deal on the best cell phones in all of America, rather than getting skinned with multi-dollars per minute on my Canada-based cell service.

Last trip I ordered a couple of basic phones from Net10 - got them for less than $30 each, which included 200 minutes lasting 60 days. I'm not sure how a minute lasts 60 days, but I think it has something to do with dentistry.
If this were Chippy, she'd look a lot like I did after an hour of call center escapades.
I slid over to the computer today to do a quick top up to make our cell phones ready for tomorrow's trip. Went to the Net10 site. Entered some basic information and - credit card not accepted. I repeated the process, figuring I must have slipped a digit and voila! - credit card not accepted. Must be because I'm in Canada. I'll use American Express. Retype all the info and voila! - credit card not accepted.

Fine, I will simply call their extremely convenient 1-877 number and purchase my minutes that way.

After a very brief period of wading through 17 phone system prompts, I reached Emilio, who would be very glad to help me. He was so glad to help me that he would have me repeat everything two or three times, as if I was speaking Martian or something.

"Sir, is there a first name that you can give me that I can address you by to serve you better?"

"You can call me Royal."

"Okay, I heard you say that your first name is 'Royal' - may I address you as Royal?"

What the fuck.

"Yeah, sure... where are you?"

"I am serving you today from Bogota."


"Yes sir, that is correct. Okay Royal, thank you. I will now address you as Royal. I understand sir that you have told me you have two phones that you want to buy minutes for?"

"Yeah. Two phones."

"Okay, Royal, I can certainly help you with that. Do you have the first phone there with you in your possession?"

"Yes. YES. Yes I do. Right here with me in my possession."

What. The. Fuck.

It went on like this. Is the phone turned on? I understand, Royal, that you have now turned on the phone. Can you go into the button button button button other button button fuck you menu? What does the tiny screen say now? Can you tell me the SIN number? Repeat it? The serial number? Repeat it? The phone number? Repeat it? The PIN, DIM, DEN, PHOO, and CHUM numbers? Repeat them all!!

I reflected that Emilio would be extremely talented at consensual sex. I imagined a date would go like this.

"Maria - may I refer to you as Maria so as to better serve you my impending love? Thank you Maria. Maria, I would now like to squeeze your left boob. Would that be acceptable, Maria? And would you consent to hand-to-boob contact and some light squeezing? Thank you, I understand that you have now confirmed that I may now squeeze your left boob slightly, while reciting the selections on the menu tree on your complimentary Net 10 cellular phone."

Then we got into the credit card portion of the aural torture.

I gave the number - "Repeat that please, Royal?" - and the security code - "Repeat that please, Royal?"


"Royal, may I ask you, what kind of card is it?"


Emilio paused. I heard one, faraway, electric crackle from Colombia.

Then, maybe... faint breathing on the line.

I withheld a scream, eyes screwed shut, fist ready to pound the coffee table.

The long distance static hum filled the silence between us like a never traveled road winding forever through the desert, between here, and somewhere out there.


"Mr. Royal. I understand that this is a Visa card number - is it correct that this is a Visa card?"

Next, I had to be put on hold for three minutes (Emilio told me, and confirmed, that it would be three minutes), which I didn't understand the reason for. Apparently Emilio was pulling some levers and pushing some squeaky pedals in the background to make the phone go.

After five minutes of some jazzy porn hold music, he came back.

"Royal, would it be all right if I put you on hold once again for approximately three minutes again while I go and... " - I think he said something like 'while I go and hustle Fontina over in sales'.

Five more jazzy porn music minutes played over a 10 cent cellular phone speaker.

"Royal, the validation PIN card number coordinates for allocating the minutes is still not cleared with Fontina."

I waited for it.

"Royal, would it be all right if I put you on hold once again for approximately three minutes again while I go and... " - I think he said something like 'while I go and Armor All my spicy chorizo of love'.

"Yes, but you can't squeeze my boob."

Five more jazzy porn music minutes.

"Royal, the blah blah blah validation PIN SIM reset PIM DIM PHOO allocation blah blah..."


"It has completed!"

I felt like cheering.

"Royal, can you now, on the phone, access the code input selector configuration menu? I will talk you through it. Is it okay if I do talk you through this procedure?"

I said nothing. I drooled out of the corner of my mouth after a while. Finally, I croaked out a weak 'ok...'

"Okay Royal. I understand that you are going to work through this procedure with my assistance. Royal, please press Menu... 9... Set... Select... Settings... Option... 9... 3... spin around in your chair, press down arrow... press Set... then press the Option key."

After some fumbling and a few interpretive dance moves I picked up on PBS, I reached the apparently forbidden 'code input selector configuration' menu.

"Royal, please enter the following digits..."

He rattled off an interminable number of digits, in groups of four. Some of them were an old girlfriend's phone number. My bank account number and ATM PIN were in there too.

"Now, Royal, press Okay."

"It says... it says 'code accepted'."

"Good. Very good! Now press Menu... 9... Set... Select... Settings... Option... 9... 3... spin around in your chair again, pretend that you are a black swan in a lagoon full of white swans, think about how that makes you feel, and move accordingly, then press down arrow, then press Set, then the Option key and enter the following digits."

I thought I was arming a nuclear missile or something.

This procedure was repeated.

And again.

After four times I started to get giddy.

After SIX TIMES I thought I was going to cry.

But finally! Finally we were done!!!!!!!!!

And, then it was time to start on the second phone.

We went through the beginning rigamarole again and by the time he asked me to repeat the credit card number again, I was ready to reach down the phone and throttle Emilio.

It was as if the previous hellish interminable transaction had never taken place! I had two fucking identical phones, it was me, Mr. Royal, same address, same everything.

And then came the breaking point.

"Royal... may I ask you... what kind of card is it?"

I sighed.

"visa..... it's visa..."

Defeated, I knew what was coming and took it like a man.

"Royal, would it be all right if I put you on hold once again for approximately three minutes again while I go and blah blah blah blah blah...?"

Everything that had crushed my soul with the first phone happened over again. Do you know how hard it is to re-crush an already completely crushed soul? With Emilio at the controls, not very hard, actually.

More holds, More jazzy from-behind porn hold music, More 15-level deep menu selections and endless launch codes to be entered.

By the time it was all over, almost an hour had passed.

When I'm down in Vegas this trip, I'm buying some prepaid cards for next time. Emilio, if you're out there squeezing Fontina's left boob (with permission)... you win.


    1. Royal, since starting to follow your blog a few years ago, have read some (though not all) of your past posts - and this is one I'd not seen before. OMG!!! You had me laughing so hard, there were actual tears. Then I got to the line, "And, then it was time to start on the second phone." and I completely lost it. I'd forgotten there were 2! You're brilliant.

    2. Dear Unknown,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad to know people out there get some fun out of my blog.

      Your Internet Pal,


    3. Perfect! I felt your pain. Really. I did feel it. I went thru something similar (but with just one phone) sitting on a bed in Las Vegas with Blonde rattling on..."Can you contact LYFT on the new phone yet?" ;-)


    Leave a message for Royal Flusher!