Phabula Rasa

My trusty Galaxy Note 4 had served me well for three years, but it was time for a change.

I wasn’t happy about it.  I’ve never had any interest in having the latest or coolest phone.  The fact that I’m brand-loyal to Samsung might have been a clue to that effect.  And the idea of standing in line to get a phone seems insane to me.

Plus, providers don’t cut the same deals to long-term customers they once did.  Remember “New Every Two?”  No more.  Upgrading to a new phone would require I absorb the full cost of a product that cost several hundred dollars.

Even my original move to the Note 4 wasn’t a hasty one.  The Note 4 was my very first “phablet” (half-phone, half-tablet, GET IT?!?) and the first phone I ever had that didn’t have a physical keypad.  Despite my initial reservations, I had been nothing but pleased with it.

As a phone, a streaming video device, an MP3 player, a web browser, or a repository for more semi-useful dating apps than I care to count, the Note 4 fulfilled its functions adequately or better.  But the unit had begun to slow down.  Just after Christmas, performance got markedly worse, to the point that the phone would freeze or randomly reboot.

I can put up with a lot for the sake of keeping an old device, but the phone was now more or less unusable.

I caught a break in that I happened to be visiting Richmond for the holidays when my phone was on its last legs.  My presence there allowed me to visit my mom’s local Verizon store on Broad Street, which has always had outstanding customer service.  The rep was extremely helpful as I explained the problem.

It quickly became apparent that nothing could be done to save the “patient,” and, thus, I resigned myself to ordering the most current version of the phone, the Galaxy Note 8.  I skipped the Galaxy Note 7 for obvious reasons, instead opting for a non-combustible model.

When I returned a couple of days later to pick up the new phone, the same rep assisted me.  The process was simple, but there was the usual setup of the new phone while simultaneously transferring over photos, app credentials, music, etc, from the old phone.  I wouldn’t be able to keep my old phone, either, due to a trade-in deal of which I was taking advantage.  Once the transfer happened, my old phone would be wiped forever and sent to be refurbished.

As the transfer was about to begin, the rep noted that the estimated time was two hours and 54 minutes.  Given the amount of data involved, this didn’t make sense.  He quickly realized that there was a specific culprit: A massive number of text messages.

About 35,000, in fact.

He theorized that the original slowdown problem was likely the result of having so many SMS messages.  Having the texting habits of a teenage girl certainly seemed like a reasonable explanation for why my phone would practically break after 36 months.

I tried to delete a bunch of older conversations, but my phone was so slow that even that took a few minutes.  When he checked the transfer estimate again, it had only dropped to about two hours and 50 minutes.

Then he reran the estimate, except with no texts.

The new estimate was 10 minutes.

Naturally, he asked me if I would have a problem with simply setting up the phone without retrieving any of my old text conversations.  Being a bit of a nostalgia-addled digital hoarder, I hesitated at first.  Then I thought more deeply about what it would mean.  And about getting my Galaxy Note 4 in 2015.  And getting my enV many moons ago.

I remembered the cleansing power of a new phone.

Three years.  Three years of conversations that went nowhere.  Of embarrassing or regrettable remarks.  Of women I wish I’d never met, all things considered.  Of plans that never materialized.  Of hopes that never came to fruition.

I realized that Verizon was doing me a favor by getting rid of those texts.  A new page.  A fresh start.  An end and a beginning.

A blessed opportunity to move on, move forward, and forget a few things I never needed to revisit.

Ten minutes later, I had my Note 8.  Pristine and unsullied.  Not so much as a fingerprint on it yet.

And I suddenly realized that the clean slate I had been afforded was not only welcome, but long overdue.

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