Free again!

"All of a sudden I’ve been given this luxurious gift of freedom: freedom to ignore SMS’s completely, to not answer emails upon reception, and voicemail? "Come on. I have Free. Of course I didn’t get your message". By John von Sothen, an American in Paris, stand-up author, comedian and columnist.

"All of a sudden I’ve been given this luxurious gift of freedom: freedom to ignore SMS’s completely, to not answer emails upon reception, and voicemail? "Come on. I have Free. Of course I didn’t get your message". By John von Sothen, an American in Paris, stand-up author, comedian and columnist.



I’m one of those who changed over to Free recently, and since the change I couldn’t be happier. Not because Free works. Au contraire. It’s because it doesn’t work.

Not only am I paying seventy-five euros less a month in phone bills, but all of a sudden I have an excuse. And right now there’s no better excuse in the world than «I just changed over to Free.»

«Ahh, d’accord. Pas de problème John.»  Pas de quoi.

No longer do I have to call back those friends who want me to translate their CV into English. No longer do I have to sit through a long conversation with my belle mere. «J’en…J’en.. J’entends pas…..ça…capte…pas… Free…..Free…..click.»

No more crazy roaming costs when you’re outside of France. If it doesn’t work in France, why would it work in Italy?

And don’t worry. Free doesn’t have sales people calling you all the time about new offers. Why? They can’t reach you!

All of a sudden I’ve been given this luxurious gift of freedom: freedom to ignore SMS’s completely, to not answer emails upon reception, and voicemail? «Come on. I have Free. Of course I didn’t get your message.»

And the beautiful thing: they believe it!

I’m in a secret place now I’m calling «selected connectivity» which allows me to respond only if I want to, when I want to, without any excuses. It’s like having that Facebook un-friending option, but for everyday life.

Now I’m less bothered, and nobody’s feelings are hurt. It’s a win win.

Thanks to Free, I’m not longer clicking refresh for my emails, no longer updating my status on Facebook from my cell phone, and no longer missing my subway stop because I’m doing both.

My cell phone has basically become what it should be –a sometimes working walkie-talkie- available for an emergency call maybe, but otherwise, it’s an alarm clock, a light saber for my son or an Angry Birds portable game player.

The 15 euros a month is actually the correct pricing for what my phone does now, which is very little.

Now I take my time getting to meetings, whereas before I used to hurry, and when I explain that “à cause de” Free I just got that the message the meeting was moved up 30 minutes, people look on me with compassion as if I have some incurable disease that justifies anything I do.

And believe me, with Free, it’s tempting to engage in some bad faith. Just the other day I crossed a neighbor, a neighbor who’d been calling me for days.

«Why haven’t you called me?» I say to him in an accusing way.

«But John, I have! You didn’t get the messages?»

«Of course I didn’t! I’m with Free now you idiot!»

Uncomfortable situation avoided, and he’s the one feeling guilty. Thanks Free!

Since moving to Free, I’ve found my time on the telephone is much more important and concentrated now, as if I’m at the police commissariat and I have one call to make.

«We may never speak again», I always start the conversation, «so why don’t we set a time to meet which we can’t break or change?».

And it works. People are never late to see me now. They never cancel dinner the night of, and thanks to Free, I’ve made my friends super responsible, while I get to take life easy. And even if friends do cancel, I still go over to their house on Saturday at 8:30 PM, acting like I never got the message. Just to annoy them.

Jerome sick in pajamas opening the door: «John. Don’t tell me you changed to Free?»

«Yup. What’s for dinner?»

Eventually Free I’m sure is going to get their act together and the connection will get better and I’ll be back to where I was -always having to screen those annoying calls, always answering shitty emails, while of course constantly updating my location on Four Square «John von Sothen just checked in at Monoprix».

Fuck you Free.

So when that grand day does come, when Free becomes legit, I plan on switching again, this time to Lebara or Lyca or Ortel, one of those crappy operators I see only advertised in the Indian neighborhood near my house. I’m sure they’re cheap for a reason, and that suits me just fine. Because by then, I’m sure, I’ll probably have run out of excuses.

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