"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

tech, texts and trucks

Spike's phone broke yesterday.

Here's the context.

Recently, Spike changed careers and moved into the world of trucking. It's a great world, I must say, and the company he's with is ... well ... rather amazing. However, even with the benefits of all of it, it's a big change, and big changes bring little changes, including how to communicate with one's spouse when one of you is frequently on the road, and even out of the country.

Up until now, we've had cute little texting phones, with a cute little plan that met all our needs. We rarely phoned - we texted. It was free, across North America. What can go wrong?

Except when you're a trucker, you can't TEXT your company, or your destination, or your trainer. You have to phone them. And once you realize that, there's no time to properly investigate all the possibilities. You run out and solve the problem between trips. So Spike reluctantly got a new phone - just for work calls - through Bell (rhymes with ... yep, you got it) that has limited minutes, across North America.

Even more limited, once the contract is signed and customer service says, "Oh no, that's interesting, I don't know why the sales person in the booth told you that, because the contract doesn't show it...."
This is why we left Bell so long ago and refused to even speak to them for well over a decade.
It is why we will leave again, at the first opportunity.

Yesterday, Spike pulled his cute little texting phone out of his jacket pocket, and discovered that the crystal on it was smashed. He can't text. Theoretically can make phone calls, but has no way of knowing if he's called the right number, until the phone is answered. Besides - that phone has a terrible phone plan. It's a texting phone. Can't see his contacts. Can't read my messages to him.

So, being a good spouse, I decided to track down what our next option should be. Got completely overwhelmed by techno-babble and geek-speak. It's not just finding the right device ... it's also figuring out the right plan, and let's face it, Canada's plans are LOUSY. Should we switch to wifi instead of cell service? Tablets instead of phones? SIM cards for either side of the border? Use an android with a data plan, that apparently has no connection at all to Star Trek TNG? Should we perhaps jab our own eyes out in frustration with the whole process? (Oh wait, that one's just for me.) And here's the kicker ... each time I thought of something, I instinctively picked up my cute little texting phone to mention it to Spike, only to remember ... yep.

Emailed one friend who was exceptionally helpful, in part because he's a maven who loves technology. I suspect he was also compassionately responding to my barely-disguised complete incompetence, aggravated by panic. That's a good friend, right there, who keeps answering panicky emails with unintelligent questions on a holiday Monday.

Another friend texted me a bunch of suggestions and explanations, without once suggesting that my entire lack of tech understanding made me a lesser human being. I appreciated that.

Spike phoned a few times from his Bell work phone. It's not ideal. But we sure-as-Bell are not going a week without communicating. We'd both go a little nuts.

I'll figure it out. Meanwhile, if I'm a little crusty this week, give me some grace, OK? I'm missing the 3,247 "i love you" texts per day that are the glue of this whole arrangement.

And I have an exam tomorrow.



Anonymous said...

Sincere sympathy 2 U both.

With just a teensy, tiny, very quiet, "BELL?!?!?! What were you thinking????????"

Still, all best wishes for a customized-4-U solution.

chRistine said...

whose your texting carrier?

the reason i ask is, we had a similar issue and we went on kijiji, picked up a phone that supported that carrier pretty cheaply, and switched out the SIM cards. Voila, new phone, same plan same SIM.

we even, at one point, did this with Bob's iphone 3 (can't with the 4, different sims).. and then he can use all the APPS on wireless when he finds it (at home, coffee shops, in nicaragua.. etc) so maybe do that?

and if you do that, load SKYPE and pay the 20 bucks a year to have unlimited long distance via wireless.

does any of this help?

vjc said...

Well - I have every confidence that you'll figure it out. And if you can wander through the maze of phone plans and still are able to type straight English, you'll simply ACE every exam any prof could ever think up in the rest of your school career.

So there.

(And if it helps, I'll tell you I love you too. Maybe won't say it 3,427 times a day but I'll be sincere when I do.)

Derbecker said...

If it helps at all, Bell is usually quite accommodating to requests if you use one magic phrase:

"I don't think I'll have any choice but to move all my phone and internet services to another carrier"

That got me out of a $250 charge that was never adequately explained in the first place, and got me out of a $145 cancellation charge after they upgraded my plan to include data (apparently when you upgrade, they consider that you've cancelled your previous plan - they didn't tell me at the time).

If it helps...