Between the Rows: No, Thanks

For what should we really be thankful?

Published online: Nov 03, 2018 Articles Tyrell Marchant, Editor
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This column appears in the November 2018 issue of Potato Grower

Trashed. Dead. Unsalvageable.

Nope, I would not be making any calls or checking any emails from that particular cell phone ever again. When I slipped my phone out of the front pocket of my Wranglers at lunchtime, it became immediately apparent that my weekend spent moonlighting as a cowboy had had disastrous effects on my LG with a ridiculous, tech-y sounding model name I never could remember. A spiderweb of cracks emanated from a single horizontal chasm across the center of the screen and its so-called tempered glass “protector.” Rather than a straight, sleek profile, my phone now fairly closely resembled the gaping maw of Pac-Man. I let out a long, slow breath. Oh, well. At least the phone had saved me from what probably would’ve been a pretty little bruise on my thigh. 

I did a little research online that night and found what I thought would be a decent smart phone at a pretty reasonable price. The next day, I ambled into the Verizon store foolishly expecting for a simple, straightforward approach to buying and connecting a new phone. Alas, this was not to be.

The sweet, hipster-glasses-clad salesgirl’s—Lynzee, according to her shiny nametag—helpful smile vanished when I showed her the sale I had found on the Verizon website and asked what I needed to do to get that deal. Her expression morphed into one of disgust and horror, as if I had offended her most fundamental of sensibilities. “You know this model is, like, four years old, right?” I politely informed her that, yes, I was well aware of that fact, and, yes, that was still the phone I wanted because it was just as capable and only a third of the cost of the one she recommended.

“Wellllll….” she said, clearly conflicted as to how to proceed. “I can give you $20 off the new model since you’re on a budget.”

Maybe I’m naïve, but it was news to me that people came in without a budget. Maybe some—all right, most—folks reserve a larger chunk of money for their cell phones than I do, but surely they set some sort of limit, right? Apparently I was mistaken.

Anyway, before Lynzee started pulling her hair out in frustration at this apparent octogenarian in a thirty-something body and his steadfast refusal to upgrade to the iPhone Six Billion Xtreme XS, I decided to leave the store. I went home, ordered my new antique online, and two days later was the happy owner of a perfectly functioning, OtterBox-protected smart phone.

And here’s the thing: I really don’t think this girl was just gunning for a bigger commission. This poor girl seemed truly baffled that anyone would want to carry around such an archaic artifact from days of yore, no matter the cost of the newer alternative. I’m sure it’s worth the $700 difference to some people to get the fanciest, most space-agey phone, and I can understand and respect that. (In fact, I wrote in this space a few months ago about an expenditure of my own that would seem insane to some.) To me, a phone’s simply not worth that much, and I really don’t think it’s that strange to say, “No, that one’s not for me.”

Lest you think me some snob with an inferiority complex about people with cooler stuff than me, I assure you I am tempted by several shiny things when I walk past them in a store. I’m a complete sucker for sneakers, cowboy boots, donuts, leather-bound books and greasy gas station burritos. And while I have been known to break down and fork over $2.99 for Maverik’s sorry, 3,000-calorie excuse for Mexican cuisine, I am thankful for my capacity to say no, even when it’s something I want.

I have my parents to thank for a good chunk of that ability. Mom and Dad weren’t super-stingy hard-liners when I was growing up; they bought me most of my sports equipment, let me drive the family minivan around, and even paid for a couple big school trips. But if I wanted to go to a movie or a ball game with my buddies, that was typically on my dime. And once in a while, the family had something going on that Mom and Dad felt was more important, and they—gasp!—flat-out told me no. And I dealt with it. Or, rather, without it.

November’s always a time of considering our blessings. This year, I’m thankful for all the times I’ve been able to say no. They’ve made me appreciate the times I could confidently say yes all the more. A guy certainly doesn’t need everything to be happy. A smiling family, a little chunk of land, a decent pair of work gloves, and a third helping of mashed potatoes ought to be enough for anyone.