You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

breaking news

Detectives on the scene of Springfield car fire

Reporter tries to get free phone (and fails)


“Does anyone know what time it is?” the person in front of me asked as we huddled together under the tent’s awning to stay out of the rain.

“Yeah, it’s 11 o’clock,” the person behind me answered, glancing at his cellphone and then sliding it back into his jeans.

It was a routine conversation, made unusual only by the fact that the guy with the phone was standing in line for a free cellphone subsidized by a government program and offered to low-income individuals.

I had written about the program before, and its problems with fraud, waste and abuse. That’s why I decided to stop when I saw the sign offering “FREE CELL PHONES” outside the Montgomery County Job Center.

The rules were simple: Try to get a free phone. Don’t lie.

So I waited in line, as the sagging awning collected puddles and the man working the booth repeatedly handed people his walking cane to push up on the tent and knock off the water weighing it down.

Business was steady. As each person walked up, they handed the man their food stamp card and some form of ID. He typed the information into a computer. A woman next to him handed out the phones when the man gave the go-ahead.

One woman answered her personal cellphone as she was handed a free Life Wireless phone.

Two other men chatted as they waited. One older gentleman complained that someone had stolen his last cellphone, and his umbrella.

His friend quietly explained they could sell the Life Wireless phones and use the money to get a nicer subsidized phone from Cricket. That one has a camera, but it costs $5 up front, his friend said.

Finally, I got to the front of the line. I handed over my driver’s license and told the man I’d like a free phone.

“I need your food stamp card,” he said.

“I don’t have one.”

“Do you have a Medicaid card?”

“No.”

He told me I needed some kind of documentation. Maybe my income would qualify me, he said, suggesting I come back with a pay stub. I told him I have a family member on disability, which is true, and I would like to pick up a phone for her. Bring her back, he advised, and we’ll get her one.

So I was turned away, as I should have been. I was the only one I saw not get a phone.

As I put away my ID, the man whose umbrella had been stolen worked up the nerve to walk out of the tent into the rain. A stranger still in line handed him an umbrella.

“Here, take it,” she said. “You said yours was stolen.”

He resisted at first and then accepted it, thanking her profusely for the unsolicited act of kindness.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Ohio

5 reasons why retailers are offering in-store fitness classes
5 reasons why retailers are offering in-store fitness classes

Why hit the gym when you can just go to the mall instead? Stores like Saks and Urban Outfitters are luring shoppers in with a new kind of trend — in-store fitness classes and wellness amenities. Here are five reasons why retailers think fitness will bring shoppers back to brick-and-mortar stores: 1. FIGHTING ONLINE SHOPPING As consumers increasingly...
Provision on wrongful imprisonment bounced from state budget bill
Provision on wrongful imprisonment bounced from state budget bill

A proposal to broaden who’s eligible for state money for being wrongfully imprisoned was removed from Ohio’s proposed state budget this week. But backers say they hope to bring it back as a standalone bill. “And we anticipate it passing,” said Mark Godsey, director of the Ohio Innocence Project. “This is merely correcting...
Man loved Harley so much he’s being buried in sidecar
Man loved Harley so much he’s being buried in sidecar

They say “You can’t take it with you,” but a Pennsylvania man is proving them all wrong. Arthur Werner Sr., of Steel City, Pennsylvania, was determined to take his final ride in his favorite toy - his 1990 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail. >> Read more trending news He was riding the bike nearly to the end, despite his cancer...
Lemonade stand upgrade: 7-year-old starts food truck
Lemonade stand upgrade: 7-year-old starts food truck

She doesn’t have a license yet, but that’s not stopping a 7-year-old from Arkansas from living her dream. When Kyleigh had been there done that with the traditional childhood lemonade stand, she and her mother took it to the next level and started a food truck business, KTHV reported. Kyleigh is now selling her “famous” pineapple...
Tools, other items reported stolen from Springfield construction site
Tools, other items reported stolen from Springfield construction site

Multiple tools and other items were reported stolen on Wednesday morning from the Topre America Corp. construction site in the 1000 block of Reaper Avenue in Springfield. MORE CRIME: Man found dead in backseat of car during traffic stop in Springfield The burglary allegedly occurred between 6 p.m. Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. An employee told...
More Stories