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Cell phones: Corporate crack - Greg Gelpi

Imprisoned by a cell phone? I am too, and so is my roommate and my neighbor, the 2-year-old down the street and?

Just one call and you're hooked.

One day a smile gleams across your face as you drive along, free of the world. The next, an earpiece dangles down your face, your pants vibrate and you're chained to everything you had tried to escape.

When I had no cell phone, I thought it would be nice to have one. Now that I have one, the addiction has seeped down into the cellular level and somehow what started as a luxury cloaks itself as a necessity.

The hysteria to enslave cascades across the nation.

Unfortunately, though, cell phones and cell phone plans have become so cheap that we all can afford them.

I say unfortunately, though, because the onslaught of legal ensnarements (a.k.a contracts), veiled in sales and free offers, is just one more step in the narcotic-like entanglement.

A former employee for the same cell phone company I and many others use was recently arrested in Louisiana for stealing phones from work and selling them online.

He did two things wrong: first, he stole the phones and second, he sold more phones than he had stolen, yet continued to collect the money.

The parallels to the crook and cell phone companies as a whole can't be avoided.

Mocking me with a sudden vibrating in my pocket, my cell phone flashed the arrival of a new voicemail message Sunday.

Like Pavlov's dog, I robotically answered my phone's commands and checked, or at least attempted to check, my voicemail.

My parents and many others would consider me stubborn, although I'd call it persistence. That process of checking the voicemail continued for more than five hours to no avail. Each attempt resulted in the phone dialing and suddenly stopping.

Voicemail messages continued to mount as my patience continued to fade.

Frustrated and nearing the brink of insanity, I called customer "support" Tuesday, but again to no avail. After only a few attempts, I did reach a human being, who responded to my complaints and questions with a random spackling of verbatim answers from what must have been a script.

She admitted that the company's network gets overcrowded at times. I conceded, but asked why then does the company flood the market with advertising and continue to sign up more customers.

Her only response was that I signed a contract and I'm stuck.

I asked how could I pay for phone service and not receive it.

Again, her only response was that I signed a contract and I'm stuck.

Like crack and crack dealers, corporate giants convince us that we need food, water, oxygen and a cell phone to exist.

Once we cave to the pressure and sign our souls over on the dotted line, the companies feed healthy doses of specials until the addiction is firmly embedded in our subconscience.

And then, they cast us away, confident that our chains of addiction, plus that little thing called a contract, will keep the money coming in.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.