Today is Veterans Day and I’m here, in my hometown of Birmingham. Aside from grubbing down on all of the free food afforded to me as a veteran of the United States military and renewing my driver license, which I hope will be the last time, I am here to upgrade my mobile phone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 I acquired in February 2014 has seen better days and I feel like it’s useful life to me is coming to a rapid end—perhaps in large part to what happened in Panama City Beach last year, when I left it on top of a rental car while fueling up and driving off, only remembering I did so about 50 miles down the road. I don’t think it fully recovered from that. For the past few weeks, I’ve been stalking the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge as a replacement. Apparently, it’s a hot item in the National Capital Region as all of the local stores from as far south as Waldorf, Maryland to as far north as Frederick, Maryland and as far east and west as Woodbridge, Virginia and Laurel, Maryland have been sold out. Thus, the trip home. I’m set to acquire the device tomorrow morning from the T-Mobile location around the corner from my father’s house. But, as I sit here on the precipice of acquiring my 6th mobile phone device, I can’t help but think of my very 1st one…all the way back in 2002. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Nokia 8290.
How I first came across this moment? According to the February 16, 2002 entry in Triumphs & Tribulations II, I came across the device inside of the VoiceStream Wireless on Parkway East in Birmingham—where my neighborhood T-Mobile now sits. I had gone in to get a used phone activated but came away being better off starting brand new. I wasn’t old enough to enter into one of the plans but I was the right age for a prepaid phone. From the available choices, I selected the Nokia 8290. It was small, simple, and black. That was good enough for me. I made the purchase and just like that, I was the owner of my 1st mobile phone.
What it meant to me then? In the immediate moment, it meant that I was moving up in the world. I entered 2002 having only a MAX monthly bus pass for students and a Motorola pager. By Presidents Day, I had my 1st automobile and my 1st mobile phone. As the old saying goes, “you couldn’t tell me nothing”. My first call was to my father, who wasn’t the least bit surprised that I copped a phone. Past the immediate moment was that having my own mobile phone made me more accessible to people who mattered…in particularly, a certain young lady whom I entered into a relationship with for a couple of months. Up until that point, her only ways of getting in touch with me was calling me on the house phone or shooting me a page. That wasn’t an easy feat after I acquired The Deuce because I stayed in the streets, burning 93 octane gas.
What it means to me now? I kept possession of that Nokia 8290 until the Fall of 2003, when I turned my back on T-Mobile—whom had acquired VoiceStream by that point—and joined Sprint. I entered into the 1st of 4 mobile phone contracts and was given a Sanyo 6200 for my trouble. I had no use for the Nokia 8290 and I gave it to my baby sister. Looking back on it some 14 years later, I probably should’ve kept that phone. It was truly one of a kind. I remember all of the different faceplates I got for it. I remember the ringtones I customized by looking them up online. I remember it holding a charge for days on end. I remember what happened when I went to see Spider-Man at Regal Cinemas Wildwood 14: everybody was playing their custom ringtones during the “technical difficulties” and I bust out my ringtone—the Nokia tune—and floored the theater with laughter. I remember being a legend at Snake. I remember Valorie Drew saying “you got a phone” before putting her number in my phone under the name #Valorie so it would be 1st in my contact list. I’ve gone from Sanyo 6200 to Motorola RAZR V3 to HTC Sensation to Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and I’ll add Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to that list tomorrow. I once read that “your first love is always alive and lives in your heart”. The Nokia 8290 I scored from VoiceStream Wireless was my 1st love as far as mobile phones is considered. It doesn’t have a place in today’s world but I sure as hell miss it.