Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Hammer-Wielding, Cell Phone Bashing Hero

Text messaging has become a rather popular part of the cell phone laden lifestyle that most of us are living with today. Some people text more than others, with younger age groups tending to far out-text older age groups. I don't know what it is about people, who are above the, say, 12-30 years old category, who have an aversion to texting. Texting is great. Fab-u-lous. It enables people to constantly and continually have dialogue and conversation with other people that they have NO interest in actually talking to! Granted, it would seem a bit easier to just stop talking to those you don't want to talk to. But the problem with that is it takes two to tango. You might want to stop talking to that person (and really, who wouldn't? God, they are annoying.), but does that person want to stop talking to you? Nooooooo. You are, apparently, just that fascinating! Embrace it! Or just text the moron instead.

But back to the teen texters. I think it's a safe bet for me to say that I send and receive probably a total of over 500 a month, the majority of which are to the same couple of people (and they're actually people I do want to talk to), but that's still a hell of a lot of texts. And while I'm agile and adept at the little keypad (and other things as well. Just throwin' that out there, in case anyone cares.), I'm not quite as fast as those little teenage bastards that can just text at the speed of light. Part of that is because, apparently, they just can. The other part of that is I refuse to use text-speak, I adore punctuation, always use proper capitalization and I am an uptight stickler when it comes to spelling. In short, I am a hoot! Oh, yeah. That's me.

The point is that if I didn't know that a teenager could text so rapidly, I would most likely not believe this story out of Cheyenne, WY that was covered by 9News in Denver, CO where a one 13-year old Dena Christoffersen sent over 10,000 text messages in one month! If you do the math (another one of my very exciting personality traits), that comes out to 333 per day in a 30 day month. Let's say that you're conscious 14 hours out of the day. That equates to 23.78 texts per hour. That's one text every 2 minutes and 32 seconds. That might not seem possible, but you have to realize that a lot of teenage texts consist of things like "Yay" and "omg" and "RU L8" and "<3> Unfortunately, the majority of these 23.78 texts per hour came when young Dena was in school. And while that's bad, it might not be the worst part of this technology gone awry tale.

Dena's parents thought (key word in that sentence: thought) that the texting feature of their cell phone plan had been disabled. I'm going to assume that they thought that if they hadn't signed up for it, it wouldn't be available to use. That is a reasonable assumption to make. But it doesn't work like that. Instead, if you haven' t signed up for text messaging and someone sends you a text, you are then charged for that text that you didn't want and didn't sign up to receive. Of course, that makes sense.

No it doesn't! They do it to screw ya. You don't see HBO leaving their channels all watchable and everything and only if we watch HBO do we get charged for it. No, if we don't sign up with HBO and we try to watch HBO, we will be watching HB-NO, as in "NO, you can't watch this channel, you haven't signed up for it yet." But I digress.

Dena's parents Gregg and Jaylene Christoffersen, were rather "surprised" when they got their monthly phone bill from Verizon detailing Dena's adventure into the electronic communications foray. "Surprised" is in quotes because I think to say one is "surprised" is an understatement if you are opening your cell bill and it tell you that you owe them $4,756.25. OMG!

Gregg said, "It just hit us like a rock, like you're stepping into a bus." I'm going to assume he meant "stepping in front of a bus" or "being hit by a bus" or something of that nature. But all is forgiven because he just opened a cell phone bill that was almost five thousand dollars. He can mix up his idioms and metaphors and similes all he wants with a five thousand dollar cell phone bill. Holy crap, five grand would cover my cell bill for almost four full years! But that's only going to cover one month over there in the hands of Texty Texterson.

In case you're wondering what all of that texting does to one's grades, Gregg said, "She went from As and Bs one semester to Fs in two months." Also, if you're wondering what all of that texting does to one's social life, Dena has been grounded until the end of school. But that's not all that came out of all of this.

Enter Gregg the Hero and his big ol' hammer. According to "Hours after the enormous bill arrived, Gregg Christoffersen took a hammer to his daughter's phone." AWESOME! I wanna see it! And you know that you do too! Behold!

NOW it's disabled.

Awesome. Just awesome. Over there at is the video of their news report on this story. And I came away with a couple of impressions about these people. One, the Christoffersen's seem like good folks. Two, their daughter seems like a normal kid and probably a pretty good kid. Three, you could tell that Gregg was mad. Man, he was pissed. But what I liked about these guys was that they actually did something that was reasonable and expected. Their daughter has a severe consequence. School isn't out until June, so that's a good two months of being grounded. When you're 13, it might as well be forever. Gregg took his anger out very appropriately on the phone and smashed the holy Verizon right out of it. AND the story also said that Verizon has been willing to knock the bill down to a reasonable level. (Nice job, Verizon.)

It didn't say what "reasonable" was, but these people knew that they were ultimately responsible for that bill and for their daughter's actions. They weren't whining or complaining about how their daughter shouldn't have been able to send texts if they didn't sign up for it. These people were normal! Why does that surprise me so much? It probably shouldn't, but it totally does!

I wish the story had focused more on the aspect of how Dena was able to send 23.78 texts an hour while in school. And while you could reasonably argue that the school not intervening when Dena was texting in class was essentially enabling her to rack up such a huge bill, you didn't hear that out of the parents. Just take responsibility for yourself and your kid and move on. But not before smashing the holy bejeezus out of her cell phone with a hammer. :::sigh:::: My hero.

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Alice Amplified said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alice Amplified said...

Yeah, my monthly text number is close to 6,000 texts sent/receieved a month. My sons is barely 500.

What is wrong with this picture? I wish someone would smash my phone with a hammer.

Mare said...

Yeah, I figured my 500 a month was a rather conservative estimate.

While you may have 6000 texts per month and your son only has 500, does your son SAY more than 500 WORDS a month? I mean, good lookin' and a great surfer he is, but he doesn't seem like a very wordy chap.

Don't worry though, one day you'll throw your phone hard enough that you won't need that hammer.

~ Mare

grannyann said...

I think my granddaughter (14) did about 7000 texts last month but they have Sprint which has unlimited texting. I remember when my daughter was in her first year of college and I got a $200 phone bill and I almost croaked. Look at the difference between the early 80s and now.

I made a cy of that girls texting for my daughter to look at.

Dylan said...

Nice blog. I can't begin to imagine what it was like for the parents to get a $5K phone bill, especially if they thought that they had a texting plan that, while not unlimited, was at least comprehensive. Talk about shock! Without debating the appropriateness of the volume of the rampant texting, I get particularly riled when parents are stuck with huge bills; I hear about this all the time because I work for the consumer advocacy website, powered by a company called Validas, where we slash the average cell bill by 22 percent. People like the Christoffersons may not have been actively misled by their providers, but they were clearly unaware of the vulnerability of their cell plans to their kids’ texting habits. I could go on and on about how shifty these cell companies can be in their attempts to make you overpay. I'll mention that at Validas, we stop them and have currently put over $5,000,000 back in the pockets of consumers. You can check out Validas’s in the national news media, most recently on Good Morning America at

Good luck to everyone trying to cut your wireless expenses in this rough economy.


Mare said...

Thanks for the compliment, Dylan.