New phone means no one to call for help

Posted June 05, 2009, at 6:56 p.m.

You wouldn’t think that a new phone would create such a commotion. Last week, I activated a new phone sent, unrequested, from Verizon, a firm which keeps television in the profit column all by itself. It seems that Verizon bought my old company, Unicel, lock, stock and Emmet. No one asked my opinion or permission.

Like most of us, I cannot live without my cellular phone, not for a minute. Don’t leave home without it.

Task No. 1 was to change all those damned contacts, more than 75, to the new phone. Needless to say, I could not remember two of them. To say that I am technology-challenged is an understatement like saying David Grima still has a thick English accent 45 years after leaving jolly old England.

Naturally, I called the number that Verizon provided along with the snazzy new phone. A very nice operator suggested that I drive to Augusta, 45 miles away (90-mile round trip), and they “might” be able to help me, no guarantees.

Cobb Manor is a bastion of both sarcasm and sloth. I thought about that 90-mile drive for several days after my “old” phone was disconnected by forces unseen. I thought about the $40 in gas that my fire-breathing Tundra would devour on the trip.

The No. 1 rule of Cobb Manor, never read the instructions, was broken out of extreme duress. I went through the Verizon box and there, undisturbed, was the instruction book for the new phone.

I sat down and slowly but unsurely started transcribing the numbers of various miscreants from here to Florida and back again. I eliminated a lot of flotsam and jetsam and some names I didn’t even recognize. But all of the restaurants along the way, from Whipper’s in Augusta to Carrabba’s in Fort Myers, stayed in. There is no substitute for calling ahead and having lunch all ready when you drive into the restaurant lot. Some of us are much too busy (and much too hungry) to sit around and wait for the ex-convict in the kitchen to cook our teriyaki chicken.

Fingers cramped and vision blurred as the numbers were transcribed, one at a time. Probably half of them are wrong and will have to be edited over the next few years. There was a certain rhythm to the process and eventually it was complete.

I ran into that English fake, Grima, and told him of my success. In my sedentary life, the transcription of 75 numbers rates as a major accomplishment.

In a miraculous development, Grima had obtained his first cellular phone, from his new employer. It too, was a Verizon phone.

“They have a new office in Rockland,” he said. I could have changed all those numbers in a computerized flash at the spanking-new office, eight miles away. One might think that the dope who answered the phone at the Verizon office might have known that and saved my aching thumbs.

That was just the start of my new phone adventures.

Blue Eyes tried to call her father on the phone, since the number was all programmed. She called John Hammer instead. He was the number above her father’s. Hammer is living poolside in Florida, leaving various children behind in Maine. When Blue Eyes called him by mistake and asked for “Dad,” Hammer naturally thought it was his daughter.

Neither one of them knew whom they were talking to for several days, until I checked the “dialed calls” menu and saw Hammer’s number on the list.

The adventure continued.

I came out of the bathroom one morning and heard a woman’s insistent voice. I knew my memory was bad, but I didn’t remember taking anyone home the night before. I checked the answering machine, then the radio, then the front door to find the source of the voice.

Of course, it was in my pocket where the new Verizon phone was exerting its voice command capabilities.

Back to the instruction book.

Then of course there was the morning that I was ready to throw the new phone in the Cobb Manor bushes when I missed several phone calls. You can just imagine how important they were.

It was then, and only then, that I realized I had turned the volume down to the point that the phone was left mute.

This is all way too much trouble. I want my old phone back … with all those old phone numbers.

Can you hear me now?

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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