Today I walked into the AT&T store in Sequim to fix myself up with an American cell phone. And after reaching the end of the face to face, real human process, I found myself on the phone with a customer service representative who, from her accent, sounded to me to be in Manila (or Mumbai). And as the conversation began, she took the time to welcome me to the AT&T family. I thought that was funny, ’family’, and wondered what exactly she meant, and whether in Manila (or Mumbai) small children were snacking on sugary sweets and grandmothers were blushing with pride as the ranks of their dominion expanded by one. And whether, when the conversation was done, when, no, there isn’t anything else I need today, this obviously kind and earnest young woman would take a moment before her next call to pin my beaming photo on her Manilian (or Mumbaiker) cubicle wall, beside several hundred other new family members just like me, just above the list of commonly used American slang, whether she would tell her friends, go out celebrating tonight, creating a lifetime’s worth of memories from this most significant and joyous day.
And then I thought that I shouldn’t be so cynical, that maybe, these days, what we all need most is to be part of a family, and that despite all the vitriol about hot shot CEOs and government waste in this verdant, organic corner of the US of A, maybe the intention of the CEO of AT&T is truly to expand family, and is that such a bad thing? And then I got to thinking about how what’s true for AT&T might be true for all of us – that goal of expanding family, that is – and maybe that explains why we spend so much of ourselves finding love and creating connections and growing a support system: to find someone who will drive you to the hospital, soak up new experiences, travel to distant lands, push you harder, take you farther, hold you and love you when you need support, even to see you as part of themselves, not just emotionally but like physically, like a growth on your neck that is ugly to look at, with an awkward, difficult to understand personality, but that you come to regard with a laugh and a shrug, because it’s there and it’s you, and what to do? And I got emotional about the whole thing, family that is, but then I stopped and remembered where I was and what I was doing. And then I considered my options, and walked across the street to Wal-Mart, where I bought a cheaper phone.