The Challenges of In-Country Calling
I have become something I always prided myself for not
If you happen to remember the hit, “Blame it on the Bossa
Nova,” well, I blame it on the anesthesia, and hum that new tune several
times a day. I am leaving my purse, or my wallet, or some important thing —
other than Brownie — everywhere I go. Thank heavens for rural living; around
here, if you leave your purse in the supermarket, someone drives it home to
Thus it was that recently The Scatterbrain left her cell
phone charger plugged into a Norfolk hotel wall. She remembered it about 20
minutes out of the city. There was nothing that might have tempted her to
turn around and retrace her thrilling but treacherous path back to the city.
So, she called — on the charger-less cell phone — and left word with the
hotel, which promised to mail it to her. Done!
A week passed. No package. The Scatterbrain called the
hotel’s housekeeping department. After 10 minutes of “checking,” the sad
news was delivered: No charger found in room 1506.
How this happened, I have no idea. There’s the
housekeeper. There’s the wall. There’s the odd, black device plugged into
it. How could it not be found?
My theory is this: So many scatterbrains leave so many
cell phone chargers plugged into so many walls, that housekeeping simply
tosses them with the used Kleenex and, in my case, orange peels. (Oranges
are my favorite new addiction).
This meant a 20-mile round trip — and I was lucky it
wasn’t further, living in the wilds of rural Virginia — to buy a new
Here is the scope of what I know about cell phones: 1) You
take them out of your purse occasionally — provided you haven’t left that
purse somewhere. You use them to call ahead and order your take-out food
from a restaurant. 2) Cell phones have cameras. I used my camera once. It
captured a photo of the inside of my purse. I don’t know how to get it off
Once, a tourist stopped me and asked, “How many bars do
you have here?” I babbled on about two or three at The Homestead, and the
pub at Gristmill Square. He looked at me as if I were daft. I wandered off,
wondering. It took months before I learned enough to know he was asking
about cell phone reception.
Who knew? Certainly not The Scatterbrain.
I am apprehensive of stores that sell technological
doo-dads. I am a Luddite.
I know virtually nothing. “Please,” I prayed on my way to
the cell phone store, “don’t let me be ‘served’ by some slick 20-something
dude in a cheap suit.”
My prayer was answered. I walked into a calm environment
with two female clerks. They were as helpful as could be, while serving me
and another Luddite lady.
Sadly, their talents did not extend to selling me a new
cell phone charger. The young woman took one look at my phone and expertly
managed to hide a derisive smile.
“Oh, we don’t sell chargers for these old phones,” she
said kindly. My only option was to buy a new
phone. My heart became heavy. “Well, I don’t want
anything with a bunch of features,” I proclaimed. “I only use it once or
twice a week, to call restaurants for take-out while I’m driving around
doing errands.” She expertly managed to hide her
amazement, although her eyes grew quite large.
“Just give me the cheapest phone you have,” I said.
That phone cost $50. My heart became heavier. I have
astonishing medical bills. Fifty dollars means giving up a lot of take-out.
Turns out, you buy the $50 phone,
and get a $50 rebate. Go figure.
it would “really” cost me was the $2.50 tax. Imagine!
The helpful clerk “downloaded” — I’m not too certain what
that means — all my stored numbers onto the new phone, along with my
voice-mail thingie. Then, God bless her, she showed me how to find a reggae
I am happy with my sleek, new cell phone. But, I am loath
to toss out my perfectly good old phone. So, I looked up “donate used cell
phones” on the Internet (I am, at least, that savvy). I found “used cell
phones for soldiers.” What a great solution!
Now, a new dilemma. First, they want me to “remove the old