The Perilous Journey of Keitai

I decided to finally just brave it out and get myself a Keitai (cell phone).  On the way out I asked one of my dorm managers and one of the helpers (Yutaka) to help me find out if there were any English speakers at the place I planned to go.  It’s a good thing I talked to them because they called and found out that only a few places still had the plan that I wanted available.  So they helped me find out the basic information for the plan, gave me the location of the store with a map, and sent me on my way.  This took quite a while on its own, but then I biked the 2.5 miles to Musashisakai station, took two trains, totaling about 30 minutes of riding time, and then had to follow the (Japanese) map they gave me to find this particular SoftBank shop in Shibuya (very crowded is an understatement).  When I got there, the woman told me that they did not have any of this plan or phone left.  Surprised, I told her that my friend had called and I had come here specifically because he said this one had some left.  So, she brought one out.  I don’t know what that was all about, but hey, I got it.
This is where the fun part started.  I sat down in the waiting area and watched some Tom and Jerry with Japanese subtitles until she came back with a booklet explaining the plan… in Japanese.  As it turns out, nobody in the store spoke a word of English, and with my level of Japanese they must have felt like they were trying to sell a phone to a three year old.  After a long time of broken conversation,  misunderstandings, and her attempts to speak to me through Google translator (we all know how well that thing works), she called  up a bilingual operator.  From the operator I found out all about how the plan works:
I buy the cell phone, the charger, the SD card, and either a 3,000 or 5,000 yen card.  Then I activate the card (3,000 yen is best for me because I have no plans to use talk time with my phone, and therefore wouldn’t use up 5,000 before the card’s 60 day expiration date).  Once the card is activated, I dial a number, go through a maze of options, and select the option to take 300 yen from the card and put it toward 30 days of unlimited mail.  After 30 days if my card still has 300 yen or more on it (which it will since I won’t be using it for calls) another 300 will be deducted automatically for another 30 days of unlimited mail.  With all of that, including the 27 yen service charge, I will have about 23 minutes of talk time available to use, otherwise that money will be voided when the card expires.  Calling is 90 yen per minute, but incoming calls are free.  After every 60 days when my card goes void, I repeat the card purchasing, registering, and unlimited charging process.
This all took a lot of time to make sure I thoroughly understood, and then we hung up.  After that, however, we still had unfinished business.  The lack of communication continued, but after about 2.5 hours of SoftBank business, I was out of there with a new phone, a number, a phone emailing address, and a large supply of relief.
I did a little bit of window shopping on my way back to the station (it’s impossible to resist in Shibuya) and headed home.
This is what my new phone looks like.

Oh, and remember when I mentioned the ridiculous but amazing Japanese phone deco?  This is Melissa’s.