My voice is mine, and what I do with it is – literally – my business. Verizon has agreed twice, once last May and again yesterday afternoon. For a year now I have been the owner of my conversations and the sole keeper of the record of those conversations.
I stood in the Verizon store at the end of the work day yesterday, egged on by weeks of emails and brochures alerting me to savings available to me were I interested in an early upgrade of my mobile phone. My first name now appeared on a screen near the ceiling that listed the order of customers due attention from the staff, most of that staff comfortably decades younger than I.
I knew what I was looking for in the way of accessories and capabilities and size. It helped that my browsing had led me to the very phone that Tim, my eventual sales representative, took out of his pocket and showed me as his own choice for the past several months.
Between rebates and discounts I was going to walk away from this transaction without any significant expenditure or increase in monthly outlay. I was going to have a phone that allowed me to do things that till then I would have considered the proper domain of my laptop at home. I was a satisfied customer.
Yes, Tim said, it would take him only ten minutes to transfer the contacts from my old phone and load my pictures onto a memory card and then onto the new phone.
No, he had to confess, the text messages I asked about keeping from the old phone could not follow me onto the new.
And then I stopped. I nodded my acquiescence but knew I was about to lose words that had carried me through the last twelve months, texts carefully preserved by a strategic deletion of other messages along the way. Messages on my birthday, from Christmas morning, from a Saturday in the spring that seismically shifted the feel of my inner landscape – I was facing the erasure of all that communication on the part of people who had wanted me to know I mattered in their lives.
I was standing amid customers who simply wanted a new phone. At the imminent dismantling of a bank of memories, I wanted a new way to remember what had kept life feeling real at times in the months gone by.
“Show me how to make a call to one of the contacts you’ve just transferred,” I requested when my transaction with Tim was almost over. I gave him a name.
I walked with my shopping bag to the door of the Verizon store and spoke into the phone: “Remember the call I made to you the day I bought my last phone? I just bought a new one.”