The Data Hustlers


Our cell phones have become a necessary commodity but the digital technology behind it maybe confusing to some people. When the CEO’s of our wireless carriers knowingly take advantage of this fact then that’s when I can no longer remain silent. As most of you are already aware, I grew up in rural Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Our family didn’t have a lot of money so I understand and appreciate the true value of hard work and earning a clean dollar. I will always try to lend a helpful voice to those who quietly go through life but is being preyed upon by individuals or corporations in the name of greed.

Have a friend ever told you to check out a cool music video or some funny video but you couldn’t because you’d reached your data limit? Here’s another scenario that goes on daily: Using her cell phone, a struggling single mother watches several do-it-yourself, YouTube videos on fixing a clogged drain because she can’t afford to hire a professional plumber. Halfway through the third video she gets a data usage alert on her phone alarming that she’s reached her data limit. She finds out later that she actually went over her data limit and the overage penalty fee was much more than the cost of the drainage treatment chemicals the guy in the YouTube video had recommended to unclog the drain. If this young mother had went to her local public library and freely watched the D-I-Y video on the desktop computer there she could’ve saved her data usage on her cell phone. This raises a lot of questions. Why does it cost so much for data usage on a mobile device? What’s the exact charge or face value of a byte of digital storage space? What’s the actual cost of a gigabyte and a megabyte? And are these charges the same for the mobile device and the desktop? Are there any rules or laws by which these cell phone carriers are basing their data fees and data charges on? Are the carriers correctly calculating our usage of megabytes and gigabytes? Is anybody double-checking them? I’m all for competition to open the marketplace but when the wolves and the hustlers get out of control then maybe it’s time to bring in the FCC to lay down some basic fair-play ground rules.

The faces of hustlers are changing. Today’s cell phone carriers are just as seedy as shifty ticket scalpers, walking that thin line between legal and shady practices. Naively, I used to associate the term ‘hustlers’ with fast-tongue street swindlers who made a fast buck on the backs of others. As a writer, I’ve even peppered a couple of my novels with these types of characters. In real life, a few years ago, Bernie Madoff reminded me that the most damaging hustlers are the executive-types, dressed in tailored suits and sitting behind big, glossy oak desks. As a stock broker and financial advisor, Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years behind bars in 2009 for scheming his clients out of millions as they were unsuspecting victims of his infamous Wall Street Ponzi scheme.

Is Bernie Madoff any different than the current management and the CEO’s of our major cell phone carriers? Actually, this question is debatable. The following is a little backstory to help explain why I’m writing this piece:

Up until the early 80’s, the AT&T Corporation, also known as the Bell Operating Systems, controlled the telephone service throughout America and Canada. To stop this monopoly, between 1982 and 1984, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) forced AT&T to break up. This breakup created the “Baby Bells”, smaller telecommunication companies, which have developed into some of our major cell phone carriers today, such as Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile. The breakup of AT&T in the early 80’s created more competition within the telecommunication industry and intended to protect consumers from an unfair monopolizing giant. Is history repeating itself? Last week, AT&T buys Time Warner for $85 billion, and today’s “Baby Bells” are still walking that thin line between lawful and secretive, greedy practices, as evident in T-Mobile’s recent court settlement, agreeing to pay $48 million for misleading its customers into thinking that they actually had “unlimited data”.

Are there any honest, righteous CEO’s out there who are sincerely looking out for the best interest of the customers? To the average person, the world of gigabytes, megabytes, and digital storage space can be confusing, so, most often than not, when we get that surprisingly high cell phone bill, we obediently pay it but silently complain. Ideally, a good CEO will set the tone and the culture of the company, and hopefully will ensure that all of the company customers will have clarity of their phone bills and easy access to questions regarding their services.

Today’s top wireless carriers are today’s data hustlers, and we must let the CEO’s of these cell phone giants know exactly how we feel about their fees and overage charges. The mailing address of some of the top cell phone carriers CEO’s and the Chairman of the FCC are listed below. Don’t be silent. We can only bring about change if we make enough noise. Please Share and Re-post. – Randolph Randy Camp

  1. AT & T Corp., CEO Randall Stephenson, 208 S. Akard St., Ste 110, Dallas, TX 75202
  2. Sprint, CEO Marcelo Claure, 6200 Sprint Parkway, Overland Park, KS 66251
  3. T-Mobile, CEO John J. Legere, 12920 SE 38th St., Bellevue, WA 98006
  4. Verizon Wireless, CEO Lowell McAdam, 1 Verizon Way, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
  5. US Cellular, CEO Kenneth R. Meyers, 8410 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste 700, Chicago, IL 60631
  6. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Chairman Tom Wheeler, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554


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Judge No One: The Picture Frame


Who we choose to walk with in life has a big impact on who we are and who we may become. When I was coming up in rural Spotsylvania County, Virginia, one of my uncles went to prison for something that I honestly don’t remember, but what I do remember about my uncle is that, while he was behind bars, he meticulously made these beautiful picture frames from wooden matchsticks. Our uncle sent his handmade picture frames to certain relatives while serving his time, and I remember, as a child, being fascinated by the glossy shellac finish and the contrasting colors of the half-burnt matchsticks every time I walked by the multi-picture frame in our living room.

I often meet people who tells me that they feel somewhat ashamed of things in which they’ve done in their past, or that they may have people in their lives who are passing negative judgments on them based upon their past mistakes.

This is when I would share with them my uncle’s story because it shows how our life is a true journey filled with both good and bad experiences along the way, and that people will either choose to remember the bad things from your past or they can talk proudly about the positive things that you’re doing right now. And these are the moments in our lives also when we may have to decide to let certain so-called friends go because they could be the very person actually slowing us down as we continue our life journey. And if I ever I slip up and begin to get some crazy inkling to pass judgment on someone I’m immediately stopped by the memory of that shiny matchstick-picture frame sitting on the end table in the left corner of the living room. – Randolph Randy Camp

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Life Lessons: The Tip


The recent events in Dallas, Louisiana, and Milwaukee have got me thinking about my own experiences with race relations here in America. I remember one of my early experiences during my last year of high school in 1979 when I was working at Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was a dishwasher/busboy at that time, and I’ll never forget this one particular waitress who would always say, “I hate waiting on colored people ’cause they never leave a good tip.”

In my naïve attempt to change this waitress’ attitude towards Blacks, one day I took three dollars from my own pocket (which was my gas money for my ’72 Pinto) and I placed it with the two nickels left by a Black lady who had a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. (Back then, of course, this tip was certainly greater the lady’s check.) I couldn’t wait to see the surprised look on the waitress’ face when she came back to the table to pick up her tip money. Minutes later, I’d learned a valuable lesson that day because when the waitress gathered up her tip from the table she turned up her upper lip in disgust while rubbing the three dollar bills against her short waitress apron, as if the bills had some type of ‘colored people germs’ on them.

Yep, that day I’d learned that some of our problems in America go far deeper than money. – Randolph Randy Camp

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The Well


“Most often, those who’ve been in the well are those most likely to pull others out of the well…When Jack Canaday was twelve years old he was once in the well…Now, twenty-one years later, Jack has an opportunity to reach down and help others out of the well…”  -Quote from ‘Wet Matches: A Novel’

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Beautiful You


Writer Randy Camp with high school students after a Book Discussion on his novel WET MATCHES

There’s beauty in each one of us. There’s something special about you. From this day forward let your beauty shine! -Randolph Randy Camp

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Come November


Ever since I could remember people have always told me to “don’t live in the past, but learn from the past.” Come November I’m certainly going to keep this thought in mind when I’m in the voting booth.

For the most part, I try to keep my personal opinions about politics out of my writings and blog pieces, but this particular 2016 Presidential Election (here in America) has sparked a special interest, in which I haven’t experienced in quite awhile. No matter which side of the fence you stand on, I urge all of you (especially those living here in the U.S.) to make your voice heard come this November.

After hearing some political rhetoric from one of the Presidential candidates recently that reminded me of the TV character ‘Archie Bunker’ from the 1970’s TV series ‘All In The Family’, I realized that I absolutely can’t remain silent any longer. As a concerned American citizen, I feel that I will be doing a disservice to myself and to my country if I kept my political opinion quiet. Simply put, ‘Archie Bunker’ was popular in the 1970’s, and that character embodied the same thoughts and opinions as fans of the show back then, which I must emphasize again was the 1970’s! This is the year 2016, and we must not let anyone take us back to a time period that we should be learning from, not repeating. – Randolph Randy Camp

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True Heart


For the most part I actually do get to see the brighter side of humans, but every now and then, unfortunately, my eyes will witness the darker side of some of those around me. When I was writing the first draft of ’29 Dimes’ a few years ago I was simultaneously going through a rough emotional period in my private life whereby I had to make a major decision of whether to keep a so-called friend in my life or not. (She gave me reasons to question her true heart.) So, as I was writing ‘Vehicles’, an original song for the character ‘Teki’ in ’29 Dimes’, the lyrics just poured out of me. ‘Vehicles’ is a song about people who pretends to love and care about you only to get what they want.

Yep, we must be mindful of those we have and keep in our circle. My life changed for the better once I’d cut the ties with this so-called friend. I hope that your life is filled with goodhearted people who show you daily that they want nothing but betterment and happiness for you. It’s a wonderful feeling when you’re surrounded by people who enjoys it when you rise. And you also get a kick out of seeing them rise up as well.

Here’s the lyrics to ‘Vehicles’…

You pick me up…take me around
You use me up when you’re feelin’ down
Just like vehicles goin’ around and around
Just like vehicles in my town
You only need me when you’re down
Next time when you’re passin’ by
I’ll remember you…and the smile and the lie
‘Cause you’re just another vehicle goin’ by and by
Yeah, just another vehicle goin’ by and by
You hold me… You kiss me
You give me a ride
Maybe some day…maybe some way
We may collide.

– Randolph Randy Camp (from the novel ’29 Dimes: A Love Story’)

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