My hi-tech fashion statement

2014-02-09 14:00

Cellphones were a fashion ­statement in 1998?–?especially if you needed to impress the opposite sex.

They did the job, with or without airtime. My first cellphone was a Siemens which had been declared dead on ­arrival by the cellphone shop.

My cousin was given a new one and had been allowed to keep her old one. Although it could not transmit or receive anything on the networks, my Siemens could be turned on and I could play with ringtones.

I was 18 in 1998 and, like many other young men, I needed a cellphone to enhance my appeal?–?especially to girls?–?and my cousin’s half-dead cellphone did the trick.

I often walked, cellphone in hand and one finger on a button that would trigger the ringtone when pressed. I know I was not the only one who used to trigger ringtones and answer the phone as if I had just received a call.

I’d talk loudly to myself while walking in a mall or leaving the library so the girls on the lawns could see me.

No one knew my cellphone did not even have a SIM card and, luckily, no one ever asked for my number. Telecommunications was still too expensive for most people to afford in those days.

In the 1990s, it was not unusual to see someone taking out their cellphone at a public phone booth, ­retrieve a contact number and call from a payphone.

My first working phone was passed on to me by my sister. Back then there was what we called a “service”.

You had to buy a monthly subscription and you could not make or receive calls once it had ­expired. It was frustrating that after you had paid for your subscription, which left you with very little to buy airtime, you still had no one ­calling you.

But this was easy to address. We gave one ­another missed calls so our cellphones could be heard ringing in ­public and we could be seen answering them.

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