Friday, August 10, 2007

That’s Not My Phone

By Kevin Duling

Somewhere behind all the fine print of a cell phone contract is what is referred to as “The Farmer Clause.” This clause is activated for someone whose appearance is that of a farmer or rancher. A pair of wrangler jeans and boots will activate the farmer clause. A straw hat, a farm implement hat, or a button up short sleeve shirt with small stripes will activate the farmer clause.

The farmer clause is simply a marked check-box which lets the company know you will be subjecting your phone to extreme conditions. In the event you damage or lose your phone, you will not be treated as the common city person.

While experiencing trouble with my phone, I was instructed to call the warranty number. The first question they asked was, “Did you drop your phone and damage it?”

My response, “No.” I did manage to leave it on the hood of my pickup during a snowstorm, have it slip into the sifter of my seed cleaner, and run over it with a small tractor, but I didn’t drop it. I cannot tell a lie. That would be dishonest.

They told me to send the faulty phone back and they would issue me a new one. If damage was noticed, a $75 surcharge would be added. Other than the grooves the seed cleaner auger left, I didn’t think they would notice.

With the farmer clause discreetly at work, I was issued a substandard cheap replacement. I had to complain. “I sent in a Cadillac and was issued an old, beat up, Volkswagen bug in return!”

“Mr. Duling, perhaps I can remind you about the water damage inside the phone, or the quarter inch gouges along the outside of the frame. You don’t clean your own seed wheat do you? If you would like, I could charge you the $75 surcharge for damaging the phone, or you could be happy with your new VW.”

I blurted back, “On second thought, maybe this VW will work just fine, thanks for your time sir.”

As you can see, I was unfairly discriminated against, due to my occupation. At the cell phone retailer, there are two pictures on the wall. One of a farmer talking on his cell phone, next to a piece of broken down equipment. The other, a rancher, mounted on his beautiful quarter horse with vast snow-capped peaks behind him, talking on his cell phone.

Both of these are false advertisements. I have broken pieces of equipment many times, and never have I been in a spot where there is actually cell service. Also, the farmer in the advertisement was smiling. Why would you be smiling when your equipment just broke down?

As far as the rancher on his horse, everyone knows you can’t use a cell phone with gloves on. Besides, who’s brave enough to ride his horse up a mountain in the winter time? All these things are tricks, hoping to suck you into the jaws of the farmer clause.

One word of advice: Never let anyone between the ages of 12 and 20 borrow your phone; not even for a split second. These youngsters understand electrical devices better than we understand our age.

My 15-year-old nephew’s favorite trick is to take my phone when I’m not looking, and change absolutely everything in it. He also enjoys doing this to his grandpa. At the present time, Grandpa’s phone will loudly say, “Wooow” every time he opens it. This brings great joy to my nephew, knowing none of us are smart enough to make it quit.

While attending a wheat meeting last week, we were interrupted by numerous cell phones going off. Every 10 minutes there was a blaring ring of some kind from a corner of the room. An urban friend of mine asked me, “Why can’t these guys put their phones on vibrate during meetings?”

I whispered, “Because we are farmers, that’s why.”


“Dad, will you quit checking the time on your phone, we’ll be out of this meeting soon!” I snapped.

Kevin Duling is a wheat farmer and freelance writer from Maupin, Ore. His stories will be posted on the Capital Press blog every Friday. Comments are welcomed at

Copyright, August 2007

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a classic story. I laughed the whole time. thanks

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