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October 31, 2006

My Cell Phone is Trying to Kill Me

By Sarah

I hate my cell phone. No really. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's trying to kill me. No_cell_phones

Ever since it lost its ability to charge for long periods (though that occasionally changes for no discernable reason), I have found myself nearly side swiping tractor trailers as I attempt to steer with my knees and talk to my kids while trying to keep the phone charger plugged in despite the missing metallic connector that keeps the phone hooked on. This means that at any given moment I'll have a conversation that goes like this:

Daughter: "Mom! Okay, don't freak. I don't think they're going to call the state cops or anything. I mean, the detective who interviewed me said he probably wouldn't have to ..."

Me (juggling phone charger, trying to not pick off school children who've just crossed in front of my car): "What? What happened?

Daughter: I swear, it wasn't my ---- beep, beep, beep LOW BATTERY CALL WAS LOST!

See, this is the thing about cell phones. We come to rely on them only to find they're completely unreliable. Like bungee cords bought on discount with a bit of fraying at the edges. The day you break down in a rainstorm on a remote rural road is the day you find out that, being a remote rural road, there's no cell phone reception. Or your battery is shot and you desperately need to call someone but there's no way to get a charge. I have a somewhat funny story about this, but before I share, let me direct you to a not-funny-at-all story. A story about a college girl and her cell phone on a Burlington, Vermont, street earlier this month.

I have no doubt the parents of Michelle Gardner-Quinn bought her a cell phone for the same reason my mother bought me my first in oughty ought - for safety. And yet, when she really needed it the phone failed her. Walking back to her dorm down Main Street at 2 a.m. on a busy Saturday night during parents weekend, having left her friends at a bar, Michelle, 21, tried to make a call and found her battery was too low.

Up walks Brian l. Rooney, 36, a peach of a guy, who does have a working cell phone. He also has Quinn pending sex assault charges in two other counties. He offers to let Michelle use his phone. She does. (Smart going, Brian) They walk past a jewelry store surveillance camera and that is the last anyone saw Michelle alive. Her body was found wedged between some rocks, murdered by strangulation and blunt trauma to the head. She'd also been raped. You can read more here. Brian says he was too drunk to remember anything.

I was luckier years ago when I was driving to Barnard, Vermont, the week after Town Meeting to interview a colorful farmer who'd raised a lot of hell about taxes. A simple feature story, except I forgot that to get to the heart Barnard, Vermont, you have to drive down five miles of dirt road. That's fine forty-nine or so weeks out of the year, but not the week after Town Meeting in March when the dirt turns to mud and the mud, literally, swallows your car.

I'd done my best to ride the ruts, but I was in tears by the time my low-riding Honda Civic hit a sinkhole. How low in the mud was I? I was so low I couldn't even open my door and ended up crawling through my window. There was no one around, aside from a few houses and they looked pretty empty. Lots of cows, though.

BUT...I had my CELL PHONE! The "brick" it was named since that's what it looked like. Except, of course, the battery was dead and this was in the days before car chargers. Always equipped with my outlet charger, I squelched through the mud to a pretty yellow house. No one was home in the middle of the day, so what would be the harm in plugging my phone into an outdoor outlet? I did. The phone lit up and the back door opened.

"That won't work there," a woman informed me. "You're in a valley."

It took me a second to recognize her. And when I did, I wanted to go back and sink in the mud myself. Here I'd been attemptingGreen_mountain_mowing_t to steal electricity from none other than Vermont's most famous Vpt_logo contemporary print artist, Sabra Field, who designed, among other things, Vermont Public Television's distinctive logo. This is what happens when you're in Barnard, Vermont. Nothing but mud, cows and famous artists to deal with. By the way, the son of the guy I was supposed to interview was also some town official. He came by in his truck and his boys, when they were done with lunch, towed me out.

Still, you've got my point about the cell phones, right?

Okay, let's hear your cell phone horror stories and, before I sign off, may I just wish our friend Mary Alice Gorman the very best of luck tomorrow. May your prognosis be excellent, your treatment a piece of cake and your recovery fast. Here's to many, many more years of you being a pain...no, wait,... a BLESSING to us all. We're praying for you, kiddo.

Love, Sarah Baw_2

Pssst! Just want to point out that BUBBLES ALL THE WAY comes out NOVEMBER 7th, although apparently people have already started picking it up at various bookstores.......

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Comments

I've only had a cell phone for a year and
for perspective, it has been one year ago today when I had to return to work after Hurricane Wilma took away our electricity.

The phone lines were down, but I could charge the cellphone battery with my cigararette lighter. Given my family emergencies as of late, my cell phone has not let me down in times of crisis.

Then again - I live in flatlands with lots of water, no mountains or valleys.

Good Luck Mary Alice, timing your treatment on "All Saint's Day" was a smart move!

No horror story, just a good one.

Three weeks ago, my 16-year-old son got struck by a car as he was crossing a street, 3:00 on a sunny, Sunday afternoon. The car, going 45 mph in a 25 mph zone, never slowed down, and we got no useful ID. He never lost consciousness and, I guess, lying there bleeding on the pavement, immediately called my wife's cell phone from his his cell phone. Since he had been helping my in-laws move in (whole 'nother story), and my wife had come to relieve him, she was able to get there in less than two minutes. Others called 911, after some effort I managed to get the story from her from my cell phone from my errands across town. On the way to the hospital, I arranged for my in-laws to pick up our daughter and dog for the night, and when the ambulance rolled up to the ER, I was standing there, waiting, eating an ice cream cone that would have melted in the car since I skipped stopping at the house on the way home from the market.

I ended up giving the rest of my ice cream to children in the ER waiting room, since it would have melted before I got home 11 hours later.

He didn't lose any limbs (unlike the railroad worker I shared a room with some years ago), didn't break any bones or lose much blood, and has a funny soft collar to wear for a month or so. Benefit: he can't take driver's ed. for now because of the collar.

But the moral was that his cell phone got us there, and if he hadn't had it, who knows how long it would have been before we even found out about the accident?

See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. I want my cell phone to do this kind of stuff, you know saving me and my kids when they're run over by cars, but it won't.
Interesting.

Here's my cell phone horror story:
Teenage son falls in love and must speak with love interest by cell phone for many minutes each day or terrible things will befall all of humanity. If verbal communication is not possible, many text messages, photos, ringtones, must be sent or shared, or terrible things will befall, etc.

Phone bill comes. Husband goes ape-you-know-what and demands that boy pay outrageous bill or terrible things will befall HIM. Primarily, losing cell phone. Boy gets job to pay bill.

I take it back. That's kind of a good story. Thank you, cell phone!

P.S. It's not the phone's fault if you don't charge the battery. I'm just saying, since I'm pro-cell phone now.

But I CAN'T charge the battery you see 'cause I'm missing the metal thingy and am not allowed to "upgrade" until December....

Good luck, Mary Alice, we're all thinking of you.

Congratulations, Sarah!

I recently bought a brand new, well-reviewed Motorola cell phone when my last one died after years of stalwart service. This one just won't hold a darn charge. And let's not even start with how impossible the cell phone companies are to deal with. Makes you nostalgic for the days of Ma Bell (Yikes, I'm dating myself!)

That's still your fault, Sarah.

My friends and I at the Alliance for Quit Blaming Your Cell Phone for All of Your Problems, and my Of Course It's Safe to Drive and Talk! support group, are really tired of this unfair cell phone blame. Grow up and smell the battery charger.

Oh, and would you like to buy our ringtone??

Good luck, Mary Alice. Much love at you.

First...wicked good luck to you. All will be well.
I got my first cell when my stepmom was ill and we were constantly on the phone to my dad. Little Nokia, didn't flip or anything but could pick up calls in a basement surrounded by metal! When I finally got around to getting a new one, it flipped, took pictures of the inside of my ear (being left-handed has some challenges), and loses calls in the same basement. I don't use it while driving unless my car dies in the intersection and then after I call my husband I turn it off (yep...wicked stupid there). I don't seem to be able to multi-task in this area, and since a local kid just got killed by a driver who was distracted because she was downloading ring tones while steering, I'm too busy watching the drivers who do use cells to make a coherent call myself. If I remember correctly, you can get busted in Chicago for driving and using a handset...handsfree is fine. My favorite little glitch is that, even with Verizon, my daughter and I tend to lose the call if we talk to each other for over an hour. Must be the satellite!
PS. Off topic. If you'd like to send a Veterans' Day card to any soldier, sailor,etc. you can for free at www.legion.org.
Again...thoughts and prayers with you Mary Alice.

Sarah, I give you complete sympathy. I too am caught in that cell-phone-won't-hold-a-charge-and-I-can't-upgrade-until-November HELL. It's all a racket I tell you. They sell you cheap crappy electronics at outrageous prices UNLESS you, again, sign their two-year agreement. Then they will give you the crappy phones at a somewhat resonable cost.

Ramona, I don't blame the phones . . . well, ok, I kinda do. But, I blame the cell phone mafia/racketeers. They have us hooked like a crack ho. At least I can get my fix in November. Sorry you have another month until you can get your fix Sarah.

Good luck Mary Alice.

Finally, I'm feeling the love here. And YES! my phone's a Verizon and it too takes photos and won't get reception in my driveway.

As for the upgrade thing, what happened last time is that I was in Circuit City buying something stupid when I saw chargers. My charger was broke. But when I tried to buy it, the Verizon guy looked up my account and said, "Hey, guess what? You're due for a FREE upgrade." How could I resist?

Sure, it was a Saturday and Charlie was back home holding fort with a bunch of kids. He needed to pick up our daughter from her trip to Canada. Wait - this is where the hysterics kick in (and, okay, where my marriage nearly ended.)

Soooo, three hours later (yes - three hours!) all three of us - Charlie, Anna and I - have new cell phones. The cost of the FREE upgrade - drumroll - $525. I kid you not! I nearly threw a fit except that a Circuit City clerk rushed over. My husband was trying to reach me - couldn't because my PHONE HAD BEEN DEACTIVATED!! He was, hmm, pissed might be an appropriate word. Not only because he couldn't reach me, but also because he couldn't reach Anna who was on her way home from Canada and whose phone, thanks to the FREE upgrad, had BEEN DEACTIVATED!!

It was such a horrible day, I dread returning to Verizon and asking for a new phone. I can't afford another FREE one...Neither can my marriage.

Mary Alice - Godspeed on this journey. You are a warrior. We're thinking and praying for you.

Several years ago, I switched to the Palm cell phone - my entire life is in my phone - date book, address book, lists and memos, photos, (my husband's new one even has Internet access, which is most excellent when no one can think of the name of the guy who played opposite DeNiro in that film about the thing). Like a good girl, I sync it up with my computer every night.

So when my husband dropped it in an open cup of soda (soda is instant death to electronics), I only freaked on a temporary basis. Those several days between making the claim and getting the new phone were grueling.

So I am not complaining because I don't want to jinx it.

Sarah, I get upset when my wife turns off the phone, and I would have gotten very upset in the scenario you describe....but you have told us in excruciating detail how you tricked your husband into marrying you, and I gotta think that some of that would make things much, much better.

I KNOW, Josh. But, you can't get away with that at Circuit City any more. Not even in the auto audio department. Like I said, I always learn things the hard way.

On Saturday I heard a story on NPR about a woman attacked by a rabid raccoon on her farm and she wrestled with it for an eternity before managing to get her cell phone out of her pocket, press the SPEAKER button and scream to her son to come save her. He and her husband showed up and beat the raccoon on the head 23 times or something before it gave up the ghost. Apparently rabies makes them mean and gives them superhuman powers. Another thing to worry about in this life . . .

Mary Alice, we're with you!

Many thanks.....I needed that......mary alice

Harley - I have been saying this for YEARS about raccoons. They look so cute, blah blah - but they have those creepy little hands and I'm telling you, given half a chance, they'll bite your face off.

Oh, Sarah. Have we learned nothing? The audio department? No, no, no. These days, the speakers are not nearly big enough to act as a shield. Appliances, honey. Think big.

P.S. Josh - true. After is also a good time to drop all kinds of information, which goes through the male brain like a sieve, but gives the information bearer the absolute right to claim full disclosure. Not that any of us would ever do anything like that.

Kathy - Check and double check. It's just that, the audio audio room has those nice double doors and bodacious surround sound...

Harley:
Let's just Thank the Lord that the raccoon's cell phone battery had discharged because heaven knows what kind of masked thugs he might have called in.

So now the dead battery is a good thing? Sarah! Make up your mind!

My sons told me that there is a feature you can purchase for your phone that, in case it gets stolen, you dial a particular number and when the thief answers your phone, it emits blood-curdling screams that do not stop until you, the rightful owner, cut the connection. How this would help retrieve the stolen phone is not clear to me, or them--they just think it sounds like fun.
Can this possibly be true, or am I being had by teenagers again?

Ramona, you're on a roll today.

I have no idea if that's true or not. But let's say it is!

My story is more for the people that enjoy a good conspiracy theory. When we lived in DC it was well known that you could not get any reception by CIA headquarters. It was denied that they did anything to block coverage, but amazingly, as soon as you were near the place, no call.

Racoons are creepy, but 'possoms freak me out a little bit more.

Hey Sarah, my sister went through the same free upgrade thing...she DID pitch a fit but got her way without too much bloodshed. She's the mean one in the family by the way. If you need satisfaction, call her. On her house phone. She only uses her cell to call me :o) And she would have beat the raccoon with her cellphone! Me? I plug it in to charge it and forget to put it back in my bag so I would have been a raccoon fatality :o(

Since we lived in a place that required driving through West Virginia to get back to PA, my family knows all about places where cell phones don't work. The good news is that W. VA compensated by having the most efficient roadside help of anywhere. If you break down, a nice volunteer shows up within minutes, no kidding.

Harley, I heard that raccoon story on NPR! I kept waiting for that woman to choke the raccoon to death with her bare hands. The cell phone part was kinda cheating, I thought.

Sarah, run do not walk to Verizon and buy yourself a new phone. I went to buy a new battery and discovered it cost only $10 less than the new phone----which has the magic GPS system in it! Plus a rebate. I spent $29, which is much cheaper than anger management classes.

Cheryl,

I have had that experience with people who were on the phone with me in Washington. I also have had that experience at my in-laws' former house, which backs up to a military base. No reception.

Sarah, how could you hear the speakers, what with....No, I won't say that.

I don't use my ears, Josh! Wrong orifice!

I hadn't seen or used my cell phone for 8 days. This morning I remembered to look for it, and couldn't find it anywhere. It wasn't in any purse, or jacket pocket, or other garment, or in the car.

I felt an odd sense of relief.

Then I checked the dirty clothes hamper. Found it in a jeans pocket--the little teeny pocket next to the normal pocket. Wonder what would've happened if it had gone through a warm wash and a dry cycle? Would it be like the Timex watch from days of yore?

I possess the most low-tech, cheap-o, pay as you go, (and easily lost in a teeny jeans pocket) phone in existence. My husband has the same one. We call them "walkie talkies" and use them as seldom as possible.


Ramona, the New Rule of Phones in our house is that he has to have a girlfriend who has Cingular Wireless. In-network calls between them are not chargeable, and boy, that mattered for the month he was in Florida and rang up over 1,500 incoming and outgoing calls, a 75-page bill of mostly one-minte calls (get her voicemail, hang up, call back one minute later, get voicemail, hang up, repeat as necessary). He uses 2,500 minutes in a month, and we actually gain rollover time. What do they talk about? Well, not the list that I told him over the weekend he should compile so that she can actually show him how much she loves him. Talk is cheap, especially in-network, but he won't satisfy my need for him to live the sex-laden teenage life that I did not. Why can't he find a girl who isn't so nice and well-raised?

Sarah, I think you are viewing this from the wrong angle.

There's only one angle, baby. Up.

Josh, here's an even cheaper method: they broke up. (Too bad, too, she was a nice girl.)

Yes, Sarah, I am on a roll today, but only here at TLC. Everywhere else has been one big downslide. (Why did I become a writer? Tell me, why why WHHHYYY???) Whew. That felt good. Fortunately, I see chocolate in my near future.

Sarah - please. You're making all of us look bad. Stop by my desk. I have a book.

Josh - two words: jail bait.

Margie - for the love of all that is good, think. You promised the judge you would return all those books from Bangkok.

Sarah - all I can say is don't take the damn thing across state lines. I'm not licensed in Vermont, and if you ever want any peace, you will not want Charlie to get his hands on this.

Well...ladies...I have a story for you. Two years ago I had a Verizon all you can eat contract for two years. Then the big news that your cell number could be your land line number. How great is that? The directory assistace number would ring on your cell phone. Cool! So after Thanksgiving I called Verizon and Bellsouth and did the deed except...let us all have a drumroll for technology...my cell phone didn't ring. So I called. And I called. And I called. I would come to work and put on the speaker phone and be on hold all day. This went on for three months. And still no one could call me on my cell phone and still the bill arrived every month for something I couldn't use. Verizon said it was Bellsouth. Bellsouth said it was Verizon. And still no cell phone. I finally said "Okay you guys...Verizon...your system is Hal and Bellsouth...your system is Daisy and they CANNOT communicate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Therefore I want my contract terminated with no early fee penalty and I never want to speak to you or be on hold with you ever again and I will spread the HATE mail like Johnny Appleseed at every opportunity that you caused me many months of mental anguish not to mention no safty net in case racoons attacked. So...much for cell phones. Thank you for listening and Mary Alice you'll be wonderful!

I am vindicated!! Take that, Ramona, and your gang of Verizon kiss ups!

Margie, oh god. I'm getting a horrible insecurity complex. Up is not right? Send me those books, stat!

(PS. Ignore Kathy. She is No Fun with a capital N and a capital F)

Let's all join our karmic forces tonight & send positive vibes to Mary Alice. Feel the power!!

HELLO FANS OF GEOBEST PHONE SERVICES .I AM BACK AGAIN TO RENDER SERVICE TO PEOPLE WITH THE FOLLOWING CELL PHONE RELATED PROBLEMS LIKE; GETTING SOMEONE ELSE PASSCODE OR VOICEMAIL NUMBER RETREIVING YOUR LOST PHONE PASSCODE,
RETREIVING YOUR FORGOTEN VOICEMAIL CODE
GETTING YOUR BOY-FRIEND OR GIRL-FRIEND PASSCODE, CAUGHTING WHO IS CHEATING ON YOU GOING INTO ANY TYPE OF CELL PHONE ACCOUNT,
DIVERTING AN UNWANTED CELL PHONE NUMBER LIKE SPRINT NEXTEL ETC,
GETTING A CALLERS HIDDEN NUMBER
UNLOCKING AND LOCKING A CELL PHONE
GETTING AN INCOMING AND OUTGOING CALLS AND MANY MORE. GEOBEST PHONE SERVICES IS THE BEST PLACE FOR YOUR TRUSTED GARANTEE SERVICE. CONTACT ME AT GEOBESTPHONESERVICES@YAHOO.COM OR AEASL01@HOTMAIL.COM NOW FOR MY TRUSTED SERVICE TO YOU. THANKS .
SAMUEL JAY JAY.
RETRIEVE PASSCODES/SOLUTION TO PHONE RELATED PROBLEMS

I RENDER SERVICE TO PEOPLE WITH THE FOLLOWING CELL PHONE RELATED PROBLEMS LIKE;
GETTING SOMEONE ELSE PASSCODE OR VOICEMAIL NUMBER RETREIVING YOUR LOST PHONE PASSCODE,
RETREIVING YOUR FORGOTEN VOICEMAIL CODE
GETTING YOUR BOY-FRIEND OR GIRL-FRIEND PASSCODE, CAUGHTING WHO IS CHEATING ON YOU GOING INTO ANY TYPE OF CELL PHONE ACCOUNT,
DIVERTING AN UNWANTED CELL PHONE NUMBER LIKE SPRINT NEXTEL ETC,
GETTING A CALLERS HIDDEN NUMBER
UNLOCKING AND LOCKING A CELL PHONE
GETTING AN INCOMING AND OUTGOING CALLS AND MANY MORE. GEOBEST PHONE SERVICES IS THE BEST PLACE FOR YOUR TRUSTED GARANTEE SERVICE. CONTACT ME AT GEOBESTPHONESERVICES@YAHOO.COM NOW FOR MY TRUSTED SERVICE TO YOU. THANKS .
SAMUEL JAY JAY.

AEASL01@HOTMAIL.COM OR GEOBESTPHONESERVICESUK@YAHOO.COM.

I RENDER SERVICE TO PEOPLE WITH THE FOLLOWING CELL PHONE RELATED PROBLEMS LIKE;
GETTING SOMEONE ELSE PASSCODE OR VOICEMAIL NUMBER RETREIVING YOUR LOST PHONE PASSCODE,
RETREIVING YOUR FORGOTEN VOICEMAIL CODE
GETTING YOUR BOY-FRIEND OR GIRL-FRIEND PASSCODE, CAUGHTING WHO IS CHEATING ON YOU GOING INTO ANY TYPE OF CELL PHONE ACCOUNT,
DIVERTING AN UNWANTED CELL PHONE NUMBER LIKE SPRINT NEXTEL ETC,
GETTING A CALLERS HIDDEN NUMBER
UNLOCKING AND LOCKING A CELL PHONE
GETTING AN INCOMING AND OUTGOING CALLS AND MANY MORE. GEOBEST PHONE SERVICES IS THE BEST PLACE FOR YOUR TRUSTED GARANTEE SERVICE. CONTACT ME AT aeasl01@hotmail.com or geobestphoneservicesuk@yahoo.com NOW FOR MY TRUSTED SERVICE TO YOU. THANKS .
SAMUEL JAY JAY.

DO not use GEOBEST - he is a fraud - that is why he changed his contact info.

He will take your money and then ask for more and deliver nothing.

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