Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Corel and the Magical Instant Insurance Policy

"Dammit," I swore, realizing that the touch screen on my phone had once again become completely borked for no reason. What had been working fine an hour earlier had inexplicably decided to cease acknowledging any touch anywhere on the screen except the bottom, and insist that I was ALWAYS pressing whatever was on the bottom. After preventing it from sending out twenty or so blank text messages, I resigned myself to the fact that I had to go get it fixed. Counting down the days in my head once again until my contract runs out and I toss this thing away forever, I sighed and drove out to the phone store in the mall.

Despite the line being long, they managed to shuffle through the people ahead of me quickly. This was a relief as I recalled the previous two times something had gone wrong for no reason with my phone and I'd needed to wait in line for an hour before I was even seen. Soon I was at the counter, and next to me was a woman who appeared to be in early middle age, but perhaps aged a bit more by the two children with her. While her son, who was perhaps as old as 6, sat somewhat quietly by her side, her daughter, a tiny blond bottle rocket who couldn't have been much older than 3, was talking up a storm to no one in particular.

"So yeah, we should be able to put on a new touch screen," the guy behind the counter explained. "Let me just go make sure we have this model."

While he was in the back, the 3-year-old managed to get herself out of her stroller and hopped up into the chair beside me. "Spin, spin!" She shouted towards her mom, who was talking with another sales clerk about buying a new phone, and began twirling around in the chair. "Spin, spin, spin," she sang, as her mom tried her best to ignore her and finish what she was doing.

The guy helping me emerged from the back, a package in his hand. "Got it," he declared, "we can go ahead and put this on for you, but it will cost $35."

I strummed my fingers against the counter. "Are you sure about that price? This is the third time I've had to come in and get this phone fixed since I got it, and it's always the touch screen. I haven't gotten it wet, I don't pound on it, it just stopped working."

"Yeah, I can see it's in good shape," he conceded, "but you don't have any insurance on it or anything. Even the 1-year plan is gone. I can't give you a $35 part from Sprint and then not charge you for it, because then the store eats the cost. Well, hold on, let me check to see what I can do."

He then went to do the same thing I would do when I worked in insurance, or a few retail jobs I held. Pretend to check the computer and actually just reread all the same customer information, arbitrarily clicking your mouse now and then, so you can say with more authority and some empathy, "Yeah, I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do."

But when he started looking at the screen, the girl spinning in the chair next to me suddenly stopped and looked right at me.

"Hi!" She effused.

"Hi there," I returned.

"What's your name?"

"I'm David."

"I'm Corel."

"Nice to meet you," I smiled at her. She turned away, giggling. The guy behind the counter cracked a smile as Corel turned back around.

"You can't touch me," she declared, shaking her head.

I put my hands out towards her, pretending to struggle against a force field surrounding her. "Ghhhhhhaaa . . . nope, you're right, I can't."

"I can touch you!" She shouted, and promptly slapped me in the shoulder.

"So you can," I replied, but as she moved to hit me again, my cat-like reflexes moved me out of the way. She swung again, mightily, but I was too quick for her. This went back and forth for a bit until she finally got a solid strike in.

"Ahh, you got me," I lamented, clutching my stricken shoulder.

"Corel!" Her mother, attention finally drawn, rounded on her daughter with the kind of constant low-simmer anger only a parent can display. "You can't just push people you don't know!"

"But it's David!" Corel protested instantly.

"Yeah," I told her mom, "we go way back."

At this point the woman helping her mother was laughing loudly. The clerk helping me and the girl beside him were both unsuccessfully trying to stifle their own mirth. Corel's mom was so taken aback she gave up the fight almost instantly, shaking her head. "Just sit still," she said finally, knowing she wasn't going to win this one. Corel's attention was already drawn to someone outside, and she shouted that he had a weird hairstyle, causing everyone to start laughing all over again.

"Hey," the guy helping me said suddenly as I turned back to him. "Tell you what - don't tell Sprint, but I'm going to give you insurance on this phone - for just today, and then take it back as soon as we get this new touch screen on."

"Wow, really? Okay, yeah, let's do that."

"Just come back in 45 minutes, it'll all be taken care of."

So I went and had lunch, came back, and a few minutes later my phone was as good as new. No charge to me whatsoever.

Thanks, Corel.

Incidentally, Corel and her mom were back in the store at the same time I was, only this time a very disgruntled Corel was strapped firmly in her stroller, angrily demanding "Let! Me! Out!" Sorry, Corel's mom.

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