Saturday, July 24, 2010
Can you hear me now?
The cell phone had to die.
Upon arriving in New York from Australia, my friend Larry realized that his Aussie cell phone wasn’t compatible with America’s transmission towers, so he purchased a new one for his month-long stay. Then he flew to Maine.
Poor Larry. In the first place, he was visiting the western mountains of this state. Mountains and cellular telephones do not equate to a marriage made in Heaven. My friend Larry spent half of his time emulating the television actor who made famous the question: “Can you hear me now?” The other half, he spent marching from hilltop to rise to boulder to anthill, trying to find spots where he could get a strong enough signal to make or receive calls. His frustration was somewhat amusing to watch, but his running commentary was hilarious.
“It’s like a third world country, here!”
“This is a gawd***ed piece of s***.”
“Is your 'mobile' a Verizon? They’re f***ing useless!”
And when he wasn’t ragging about the reception or the poor customer service from the company, he was lamenting the fact that he’d been promised he could make overseas calls from his phone—but he couldn’t. Not in actuality. His idea of ‘overseas’ included friends in Australia, Switzerland and Thailand. Verizon’s notion of ‘overseas’ included Guam and Puerto Rico and Canada. Hehehehe… I’m sorry. But that’s too funny, and I had to apologize to Larry for snickering at him, too.
Seriously, though… since when has Canada been considered ‘overseas’?
My friend blamed Verizon for the fact that he couldn’t reach his friends in Switzerland, so I offered to let him make the call from my land line. He checked the number programmed into his cell and then dialed it on my office telephone.
Nothing. Just a recording telling him ‘this call cannot be completed as dialed’. Gawd***ed piece of s***…
I simply had to intervene. I knew that Switzerland was still a viable country, and that it had to be possible for him to call his friends.
My country’s honor was at stake! If he could call them from Oz, then he could CERTAINLY call them from the United States!
I checked his number and dialed. No luck. I called an international operator.
Aha! Larry had programmed the numbers wrong when copying them from his Aussie phone to his new, ‘Yank’ cellular! Smugly, I dialed and handed him the receiver. It was obvious, the man needed a woman in order to make it in this particular third world country…
Regardless of the fact that he had programmed his numbers wrong, the cell phone was still a piece of odious offal. It was just one step above being completely and totally useless. And it became the running joke. The symbol of all that is wrong with this country, and with progress and technology and even--I think-- religion! For every time he used the ’bloody’ thing, he called upon the Lord. His words were so “holy”, in fact, that I dare not repeat them!
We decided that the only cure for his “cellulitis” was death. The “mobile” had to die.
But how to wreak vengeance? I considered dropping it off the Onawa Trestle, to be smashed upon the rocks 156 feet below. But, that would have been littering, and there could have been contamination from the battery, besides. So, I suggested the next idea to pop into my head. We should SHOOT it!
Larry liked that idea. He chuckled, nodded sagely, and said, “All right.”
But he needed the phone (just in case it worked) until he was ready to fly home, so we decided that I would be in charge of administering the coup de grace. But! Larry is a frugal sort, and he made me promise to use up the remaining prepaid minutes on the phone (as if I could actually CALL anyone on the bloody thing!) before taking it out to the practice range.
We discussed weaponry.
“What should I use?” I asked.
“What have you got?” he lobbed back.
Well, I don’t have a whole lot, but I DO have a family spread across the state. Surely we could come up with something that would deliver a satisfactory result!
“A .357 Magnum?”
His brow furrowed.
He shook his head. Not enough bang for the buck.
His eyes lit up. Now THAT would make an impression! Larry liked that idea, and his friend Dave concurred. A forty-four it would be.
And so, we had a plan. I would take possession of the cell phone and put it out of its misery-- after Larry departed and after using up the remaining $25.00 worth of pre-paid time.
I used the phone to make a few calls.
And then… the .44 I intended to use wasn’t available, so I had to improvise. I decided to use a World War One era Luger 9mm semi-automatic. I thought it was only fitting to pit a 100 year old tool against a modern, technologically advanced one.
The antique won.
And now, I am going to ship the cell phone back to Larry as a souvenir of his stay in this ‘third world country‘. Of course, there is the small matter of Australian Customs. For those of you who follow this blog, you’ll know that I caught heck from them once before, when I tried to send my friend Ali g some Maine potatoes. The offending spuds were ‘confiscated and destroyed’ and I suffered no small embarrassment when my Aussie friend received a notice from Customs informing him of the termination of my home-grown potatoes.
Mr. Grumbles has insisted that I contact Australian Customs and request permission to mail the telephone to Oz. He thought I might be considered a ‘person of interest’ if I simply mailed a phone with two bullet holes in it across international borders. I argued a bit. After all, what danger do I pose? I’m one of the sweetest, most law-abiding women I know! And what danger is there in a hole? The battery is sitting here on my desk, ready to be used in my own phone if needed, and disposed of properly when my cell has lived out its useful life. There is nothing ominous about this cell phone. If anything, it’s a cause for laughter-- at least, to Larry and me, it is.
But I conceded to my husband’s wisdom and worry, and I’ve emailed the Customs office in Sydney, explaining the situation and asking for their guidance. I’m sure I’ll hear back from those valiant officers once the morning shift comes on duty.
In the meantime, here it sits; a device designed to make life easier, but which caused my Aussie endless irritation. In the beginning, that is. After he’d cussed it out and vented his frustration, and once I began to tease him about it, it became a source of amusement and of bonding.
I don’t have Larry anymore, but I have some wonderful memories of laughter and tall tales and shared experiences. He’s off traveling in Europe and Asia, and I can’t even call him to tell him I’ve kept my word. I used up his precious pre-paid minutes, and I’ve put his cell phone out of its (and his) misery. I hope that when he arrives home in Australia, his souvenir from Maine will be waiting for him at the post office. And then, I hope he’ll call me on his Aussie cell phone.
I’m just dying to hear him say, “Can you hear me now?”