This is me at Verizon, daughters in tow, trying to upgrade my phone.
Me: Girls, listen—I just have to get a new phone. Please, please, please just relax while I talk to the worker, and I promise I’ll do this as fast as I can. Then we’ll pick up the pizza, okay?
Me: Shhhh! Girls, please. Just … be quiet and like, don’t move around.
Woman wearing headset and operating tablet: Mike?
Me: Yes, hi. Okay, listen—I need to do this before these two (points to girls sideways with thumb) make me lose it, so here’s the deal. I need to upgrade my phone. So let’s do that. Like now.
Verizon woman: Okay, right this way.
Me: Girls, follow me.
Girls: (spinning in circles)
Verizon woman: Okay, this is the iPhone 5—
Girl two: DADDY I HAVE TO GO POTTY.
Me: Are you … what? No. You just went before we left school. That was literally 10 minutes ago. No. Please wait. (turns to worker) I’m sorry, you were saying?
Verizon woman: This is the iPhone 5S … are you sure she doesn’t have to go?
Me: She’s fine.
Girl two: (hands criss-crossed over private area, knees bent) DADDY I REALLY HAVE TO GO.
Me: You've gotta be kidding me … is there a bathroom in here?
Verizon woman: Ooooh, I’m sorry, there isn’t. There’s one at Subway though, a few doors down.
Me: Okay, uh, tell me everything you were going to say really quick.
Verizon woman: Okay, you can get the iPhone 5S and it’ll only cost you $27.99 extra per month. That’s for the 16 gig. You can do the 32 gig for just four dollars more. We’re doing “The Edge” plan now—we’re phasing out the “unlimited plan” you currently have—so you can upgrade after 11 months. Unlimited text, Verizon-to-Verizon. We have black, white … what color do you like?
Me: I’m sorry, I just (inching away toward door) … have no idea what you’re saying. I have to go to Subway, I’ll be right back. Just do what you have to do. (turns to leave, looks around) Wait—where’s you sister?
voice from behind wall says “Can’t find meeeee!”
Verizon woman: Oh no, how did she get back there? She’s not allowed back there.
Me: (in stern voice through clenched teeth) Get. Out. Of. There. Now.
Girl one: (jumps through small, swinging door labeled “Employees only”) Ta-da! You couldn’t find me, right? I win!
Me: Let’s go.
(in Subway bathroom)
Me: Girls, you’re driving me crazy in there. Do you even want pizza for dinner? Because at this rate you’re not getting it.
Girl one: NOT GETTING PIZZA? (throws herself on Subway bathroom floor)
Me: Get off the bathroom floor!
Girl two: (on toilet) I don’t have to pee, dad.
Me: LET’S GO.
Get back to Verizon, monthly bill has increased by $30; girls run around my legs in circles as my contacts are transferred; I am somehow talked into getting same Bluetooth headset Verizon worker is wearing which, when I come to, I immediately return the following day during a process that takes an hour and 15 minutes (girls do NOT accompany me); first call I make on iPhone 5S is to order pizza; realize I am a sucker, but also hungry.
Note: This column appears in the 2/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/7 issue of the Peoria Times.