After a frustrating phone call with someone from T-Mobile who said it would take them 28 working days to send me an email with an access code to “unlock” my phone (for the price of £15) to use it with other networks, I decided I had two options. 1) Buy a French phone. 2) Go to some dodgy phone-unlocking shop. The former was a possibility but I knew that the cheapest rate would be on Amazon.fr – but this would take about 5 days. 5 days I don’t have. The latter therefore seemed a lot more appealing. But I live in the 6th arrondissement; the chic, sophisticated, fashionable arrondissement which is not home to semi-illicit places like this. After some intensive googling, I decided to trundle over to the 17th arrondissement to hunt out Koto Mobiles - a shop which prides itself on its ability to unlock any phone, as well as selling a variety of cheap, sickly accessories to prettify your mobile. Since when was phone-jazzling cool?
The majority of the shops on the street were closed down, barred or graphitised. Splendid. Perfect hide-out for a Thursday afternoon. I walked nervously into the shop, slightly worried that I might have entered a dope parlour, brothel, or that my purse would get stolen. (Gotta love excessive stereotyping). I immediately brought out both my phones and said “est-ce que vous pouvez debloquer mes telephones portables s’il vous plait?”
To cut a long story short, I did some bartering and instead of paying €25, I paid €16. I’d been told online that it would be €5 per phone (but turns out that’s only if you own a brick), so I felt it was only fair that I work some of my British charm into the equation to avoid excessive costs.
Bartering method (got this down to a fine art!)-: When it was time to pay I emptied the contents of my wallet and said in my sweetest, most angelic voice “I only have €17”. He looked at me for a moment and then waved his hand, saying that was fine. I grinned, unknowingly flicking my hair to exceptional effect (girl next door, say what?). But when it came down to it, I actually only had €16.40. I smiled at him innocently, tilted my head to the side and kept 100% eye contact. He glared at me slightly, but I knew I’d won the battle. Although he did call me “maligne” which I translated literally to mean “malign”, or “evil” (sob). On closer inspection in a dictionary however, I realised it actually means “smart” or “cunning”. Ahh, so he worked out that I was trying to manipulate him to get a better deal? True that. Language barriers are nothing; as I previously stated – it’s a smile which gets you places.
He then introduced himself and after asking for my name he said “ah, like Tony Montana?” The only reason I know that Tony Montana is a fictional character from the 1983 film Scarface (#nerd), is because each day when I Google myself to catch up on the latest gossip (I’m practically famous you know?), the name Tony Montana has inevitably appeared on Google’s radar. So I replied in the positive, adding “or like Hannah Montana”. “Who do you prefer?” he asked. In a freak on-the-spot decision-making process I went for the pop star. *hides face*
But in a phone-hacking shop, all formalities are dropped. Numbers are not exchanged on the corners of magazines or diagonally across napkins. By placing my phone in his company, I was unknowingly giving him my digits. Which is probably why I received a variety of texts from him upon leaving, commenting on how “charming” I am. Man clearly has good taste. I decided not to reply (being the grateful person that I am). The things I have to do to avoid creeps in Paris…
Watch this space.