Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Have a New Ringtone! Or, Reasons Why My Cell Phone Makes Me Crazy.

Dad has been pouting for about two or three weeks. He keeps complaining that his phone has no signal, none anywhere. In his basement office at church, he can't get calls. Since the church can't have anything but dial-up like at our house, he is "unreachable" at work.

To make you understand the full depth of Dad's phobia of being "unreachable," I have to explain that Dad is a pastor. He also is on calls 24 hours a day, all year long, and probably more than that, if they need pastors in the afterlife.

Dad is so wrapped up in being available to his congregation that he works on his days off; he preaches on Sunday after a week of being in Guatemala, or Haiti, or Colorado, or even after the week when his dad had heart surgery and Dad was driving back and forth from Elkhart all week long. He is so dedicated to availability that after his heart attack, while he lay in bed, he noticed a member of the church walking down the hallway outside his door and was back "on." He disconnected his heart monitor, got out of bed, and in his flappy hospital gown, he pursued the church member down the hallway, determined that someone from our church was having surgery, and left the floor to go to the church member's bedside.

Mom was at home with me at the time, caring for me after my own major health problem and corresponding surgery. I had only been home from the hospital a day or so. She wanted to be in both places, taking care of us both, so she sat down and called Dad's room to see how he was. Dad didn't answer, so Mom got the nurses station instead and dispatched a nurse to his room. Discovering her patient missing, the nurse conducted a search for Dad, while Mom worried at home. When the hospital staff located Dad, they escorted him back to his room. He then was yelled at by everyone involved in the search and responsible for his care, then also by Mom.

If I hadn't been high as a kite on the same drug Dr. Gregory House eats like candy on every episode of House MD, I would have thought it was as hilarious then as I do right now.

Dad's discovery that his phone did not function as it should alit in him a frenzy of pastoral terror.

He needed to get his phone fixed, to protect his job and his congregation. I had discovered the true depth of the problem when I held his phone next to mine and walked around the house, gauging the level of difference in signal between the two phones. Dad had at least one, if not more than one, less bar than me at all times. We have the same phone, purchased at the same time, from the same wireless carrier.

So Dad went to Centennial Wireless. He showed them his telephone and they told him his problem may stem from the fact he never turns his phone off for any reason, and when you turn your phone off and on again, at some point in there it gets updated. I think I remember Andy telling me something like that at some point, which I took as proof that it was okay for me to let my battery die and my phone sit at the bottom of my bag for weeks in between charging it. It seems to work just fine for me.

The Centennial Guy plugged Dad's phone in and updated it, then told him that if it failed to work, he should return. Mom then asked Centennial Guy how people got ring tones on their phones. New ones. The guy grabbed Dad's phone and pressed the little blue globe thing, and they were on the internet.

Now, I have done that like fifty times. Really. And it always, always fails to connect to anything. Mom knew that and mentioned that it failed to work for us. And Centennial Guy said "oh, you might need something downloaded to your phone, but it should work. Try again."

Mom Called me and told me to do this. I, cynically, maintained that it would not work. So, sitting in McDonald's, I pressed the blue globe. And I was on the intenet. It was the Centennial internet but it was internet and it worked.

So I got a new ring tone, for fun. It took three tries, but it didn't matter. I didn't know most of the music they had, but I recognized a song Ellen likes to dance to, and I got that because it makes me happy.

And I realized as I did this: I have had the internet, some of it, on my phone for over two years and never used it, not even once. This proves again that I have the inability to understand my phone. This is not the first time my phone and I have had problems. I have held it, pressed buttons, and I still don't know how to set speed dial or voice dialing, or anything other than taking of pictures and making phone calls.

The phone is a mystery. The two of us are physically incapable of working together. We can't do it. I hate this phone. I have hated it for two miserable years and I have to wait another six months before I can do anything about it. It's a good thing I got that ring tone so the rage building up within me would not bubble over every time I got a call. I would mutter and seethe as I walked to the front window, the only place our cell phones work, answering the phone as a duty, no matter who was calling.

Dad got a new phone, the same make as our old ones. This to me is insane. Who would ask for more suffering? Granted, he could easily use his old one even though he couldn't get mine to work any easier than me, but still--he is flirting with disaster.

And he has four bars at the window, and he can talk on the phone all over the house, in his basement office at church. That isn't right. You can't just talk on a cell phone without pressing your face against the glass of the picture window. It isn't possible. I have the psychological torture device stapled to my side, and he can just stroll around and chat.

I want a new phone. Now.

Maybe I'll just get another ring tone, for the joy.


  1. I had a good laugh when I imagined your dad running around the hospital in one of those custom-made sheets in pursuit of a church member. Now that truly is dedication!

    Also, we should have a party this July when we get new phones. We should also go together to get the phones so that maybe, just maybe we won't end up in the same mess as last time.

  2. Ps. This has nothing to do with your blog, but I wanted to describe to you my picture-perfect setting. I am sitting at the Kenapoc, working on my laptop, listening to Pink Floyd over their speakers, while eating some wonderful form of pea soup (I don't even like peas). This place is the best!

  3. Just to be clear, I DID keep one hand on the back of my hospital gown as I saw my sick friend on the lower floor, so as not to display the pastoral bum. I also caught her sister looking at my legs.
    She wasn't ashamed. Perv.
    (I should have shaved).
    Love, Dad.