I was on the Greyhound Tour of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I had finished reading Vogue, taking a break from my book, had napped and snacked and written seventeen pages about myself in my journal. Without a laptop to entertain me, I turned to my cell phone for some kind of distracting hijinkery.
My cell phone is five years old, which is 78 in cell phone years. I bought it for $50 from Virgin Mobile and it is very underused but handy in case of emergencies. It contains no new fangled hinjinkery. It phones, it texts, it tells time.
On the Greyhound bus, I looked up my account balance. I was that bored, yes. And was I shocked to see that my account balance was a credit of $140? Yes! I was shocked.
See, I am not on a “plan.” I pay as I go. $15 lasts 45 days, after 45 days, poof, your money is gone so give them another $15. For someone who doesn’t use her phone except to tweet about ninjas on the roads (but only when safely pulled over) it’s the best deal around. I used to get text messages from Virgin every 45 days saying “your balance is about to expire, please add more money.” I got bored with that so I signed up for the auto top up feature, which is supposed to top up your phone every time the balance goes below a certain number. You choose the number. I chose $5.
At $5, or at the end of the 45 days, please add $15. Right? OK. So I never check the balance because my phone works when I want it to and my credit card statement says I’m giving them $15 every 45 days, which is what I have budgeted for my cell phone use.
Hello math geniuses, how did we accrue $140? Even if I NEVER used the phone, the balance is supposed to expire at the end of the 45 days. That is why we top up, no?
When we got home, my phone needed charging so I charged it. Then it said, “No, make me be CHARGING.” And I realized that it is dead. My five (78) year old phone is dead. What a coincidence! I have $140 in my phone account and my phone is dead.
I called Virgin today. I said, “Can I use my $140 to buy a new phone?”
Virgin said, “No. Those two kinds of money don’t talk to each other. If you want a new phone, you have to buy a new phone.”
I said, “OK, most helpful customer service clerk in Canada (hey, their website claims it, not me) how did I get to $140?”
The woman said, “Well you see, it tops up your account when the money is about to expire and then you end up with more money.”
The woman from Virgin and I had the worst phone connection of all time so I gave up trying to figure it out and switched to a $10 per month prepaid plan and canceled the auto top-up. Now I have 14 months of prepaid phone service.
Oh! But no phone!
This morning I took the children uptown on the bus. They got very excited because they like bus rides. Of course, going uptown on the bus takes about 6 minutes so we barely got seated and started discussing why we don’t kick the seat in front of us when it was time to get off. “But I thought we were going UPTOWN!” said Trombone. “This is it,” I said, gesturing grandly. The old guy with one orange sock and one bare foot stopped picking his toes long enough to snort.
Maybe Trombone is confusing uptown New Westminster with London? I don’t know. Uptown is uptown, man. The revitalization has not hit yet.
So we went into the most depressing mall in the universe (except for The Town Centre in Brandon Manitoba, which has one shining star, that of Anna’s Indulgence Dessert Bar, go there and eat desserts right now what are you waiting for.) And we rode the fishy carousel and we rode the ice cream truck and we rode the race car and no, you caught me, we didn’t really ride any of those things because I don’t have money to burn on mall rides, come on. I made the children pretend they were riding and told them their grandparents will be in town in two weeks to pay for their mall rides. And then we went to The Source, formerly known as Radio Shack, to buy a new phone.
I picked one. Truthfully, I had already picked it out on the Internet earlier this morning. I pulled the salesguy away from his – work? – watching the big screen TV while also doing something that involved having an earbud in his ear – and told him I wanted to buy that phone for $69.99. But when he rang it up, it was $129!
“No! I do not want that phone!” I said, “here, look, the price tag says $69.99 and it is the same price on the website!”
He said, “No. No, that is not the price, because Virgin is switching everyone to their SUPERTAB and now the phones cost more. And in my cash register it costs more. And my cash register is GOD. And I actually am listening to my girlfriend right now on my earbud and you are just this strange, harried woman making noises at my face and oh ps, your son is trying to steal an iPhone.”
So we got a ham and cheese croissant and went to the library.
I wasn’t going to write about my phone. I was going to write about how I never considered how difficult it is to teach children to heel.
Trombone doesn’t ride in the buggy anymore, you see, which is a mixed blessing because I don’t have to push him around anymore but he is very spacey when we go out so he is always seeing an object 40 feet away and then mowing down 18 people to get to it. Fresco does ride in the buggy but I didn’t want to take it on the bus, because the bus always has more than enough people with strollers and walkers and shopping carts on it, so we were on foot.
I consistently forget that being on foot with two children means I don’t have a hand free. If all we want to do is walk around and sniff daisies, OK. But if I want to walk around and – buy vegetables, say? Where’s that third hand coming from, smarty pants? Your belly? Nope, no hand there, just a lot of popcorn. So I drop a hand and either Fresco runs away to pet vicious dogs/jump off cliffs/steal motorcycles or Trombone goes wandering at a 45 degree angle toward train tracks. It stresses me out! I know they have to learn to heel, but I should have started training them a year ago!
I wish I’d known. I would have resold the double stroller when it was still in pretty good shape and then I’d be able to afford an iPhone.