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The Isle of Misfit Phones

September 28, 2012 - Ilsa Matthes
There has been a lot of discussion around the office as of late about cell phones. Or rather, my cell phone.

My phone is probably the least intelligent “smart phone” on the planet. Weighing in at almost 5 ounces and measuring more than half an inch thick, putting in it my pocket is akin to having a very small riot shield attached to my hip.

That’s assuming I’m wearing pants with pockets big enough to hold it.

Besides being massive, my phone is something of an international incident. It’s Canadian and comes complete with a Rogers Wireless — “Canada’s Reliable Network” — start up screen. Tucked away inside is a prepaid SIM card from a company that doesn’t exist in the U.P., and my phone number has a Kansas area code.

The operating system, which I updated myself back in 2009, is from the Ukraine. Unfortunately, since this behemoth was manufactured in 2006, Ukraine is the only country that bothered to update the operating system at all.

The phone reads in English. Unfortunately, it’s British English. No matter how many times I try to change it to U.S. English it still decides it likes the Queen’s English better.

I can’t access the internet. I can play a mean game of “Brick Breaker.”

It’s like a horse that can only be ridden by one person. No one can ever figure out how to use it, and stealing it is almost guaranteed never to happen. If someone did try to steal it, I’m 90 percent positive it would dial 911 on its own.

It has a safety feature — that’s what the manufacture calls it anyway — that allows the phone to dial 911 without the keyboard being unlocked. This once led to the most embarrassing “butt dial” of my life.

Emergency dispatch will always call you back.

Tucked away in a drawer I have a plastic bag with three or four old cell phones in it that were, for whatever reason, worse than my little riot shield. None of them are activated, all are fully functional and have have their cables, and some even have manuals.

The plastic bag from the Isle of Misfit Phones has a purpose. I’m going to donate them.

Most domestic abuse shelters and a few other charities are more than happy to take old phones simply because they can dial 911 without being on a plan or being loaded with minutes. In my opinion, giving a free phone to someone who is at a high risk of needing emergency services is a pretty smart idea.


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