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Ringtones from hell

Alex Miller
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyAlex Miller
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By now most of we older folks are aware of the phenomenon of ringtones. One’s phone cannot simply “ring” anymore, as it did in the old days with one, predictable and unwavering regular old ring.

I miss those days. Now, the world is full of so many different ringing-phone sounds that it’s hard to know sometimes if there’s a radio playing, someone’s iPod going or Beyonce herself singing in the next booth over. Cell-phone owners, who programmed these things themselves, forget what they’ve done and leave their phone to ring, thinking it’s someone else’s.

In our zeal to over-communicate, we’re just confusing ourselves more.



In my family, the two older teens and my wife have gone hog-wild on the ringtone thing. One of Austin’s tones is his friend berating him in a snotty voice. When Kaylie calls my wife, the tone is “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. Not so bad. But when Austin calls Mom, it’s one of his angry-sounding metals songs, with some guy screaming “ALL BECAUSE OF YOU …!!!”

Call me crazy or old fashioned, but I don’t think the phone ringing should cause you to jump out of your skin. On the other hand, it makes sense to have someone’s ring reflect who they are. Austin is the kind of kid who hangs out up in his room murmuring on the phone for hours and then suddenly appears in your face demanding a ride somewhere (ALL BECAUSE OF YOU!!!). Kaylie, she of the Marley ring, has a personality more aligned with the mellow reggae lifestyle, and when she asks you for a ride, there’s an overt sweetness that works as a powerful subliminal: “I think you should give me a ride, because there’s just no telling what could happen if I’m forced to take that nasty old bus.”



So now I’ve got this new phone, the ringing options of which are nefariously limited and annoying ” the better for Verizon to sell you their ridiculous service to buy ringtones ” which will happen on the day I allow our kids to eat pizza for breakfast and cereal for dinner. One ringtone is, I think, the sound of a tuba being ripped in half by a chainsaw. Another features howler monkeys humming “Dixie.” Obviously, I can’t use these ringtones so now I’m looking around, trying to figure out how to put a few notes of “China Cat Sunflower” on my phone and discovering it’s a byzantine world full of protectionist protocols. Apple’s iTunes, which has plenty of easily downloadable ringtones for 99 cents, doesn’t work with my Windows Mobile phone anyway. Other attempts to send files to my phone resulted in the phone simply not recognizing them as viable ringtones, which is Big Brother Verizon at work.

The Web, it turns out, is teeming with advice on how to work around such limitations. Somewhere deep in the contract I signed with Verizon there is, I’m sure, language to the effect that if I do such a thing I will burn in the flames of service agreement cancellation clauses and fees. But that doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone else.

At the end of the day, though, it’s exhausting trying to figure these things out. The phrase “Why bother?” pops up and I contemplate the option of simply using the “vibrate” setting. Or that tinny-sounding Mozart ringtone that came free with the phone. Then anger sets is: I pay Verizon a monthly fee greater than one of my car payments — they should give me whatever I want!



But never mind. I think I’ll just walk over and talk to someone in person now. At least that way they can avoid hearing a canned snippet of “We Will Rock You” announcing my presence.

Managing Editor Alex Miller can be reached at 748-2920, or amiller@vaildaily.com.


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