Friday, November 16, 2007

Call for help

My baby daughter was sick for five days. Ear infection - "My ear hurts"; eye infection - "My eye hurts". Every little while: "I feel sick." Every wake-up time: "I want medsun". She wanted so much medicine I began to worry I had made her a Kalpol addict. The good thing about it was my husband was home for four of the five days and caught two of the cough-induced vomits. This is what you call a result. A messy one but a result. He is hardly ever home when the children are sick. Ever. And they used to be sick a lot courtesy of the younger one's stomach migraine. Like clockwork. Daddy would pull out of the road to go catch a train and the four-year-old would start vomiting.

One night she called out and I staggered out of bed and grabbed my dressing gown. My husband had only got to bed in the early hours because he was mired in a work crisis and was dead to the world. I had carefully left the bedroom door open because I figured she would wake up and by golly I was right. She did wake up and it was indeed much easier to hear her with the door open. Only problem was I forgot it was there and walked straight into it. This gave me a large lump on my eyebrow and cut my lip which immediately swelled up so that I looked like Marge Simpson, only without the blue hair. Naturally enough, as soon as I had whacked myself nearly insensible on the door she stopped crying. I crawled back into bed having inspected the damage and I lay there whimpering, thinking: "I am going to wake up in the morning and look like I have been walloped. People are going to say: "What on earth did you do? And I am going to say: "I walked into a door" and they are going to think "Yeah right"." But by the morning it had gone down. Now all I have left to show for it is a sore eyebrow and an ulcer on the inside of my lip from the cut.

Meanwhile, I decided I could not keep wandering around without a mobile phone. I do not have a good history with mobile phones. I have come to the conclusion, cars would rather I did not drive them and phones think I do not deserve them.

I have two mobile phones. I gave up using them because they were either flat or I could never get a signal. The reason they were often flat is that there is no incentive to charge them if you do not think you will get a signal. It can be a bit of a vicious circle and you fall out of the mobile habit. On Wednesday, I thought: "Enough. Call yourself a modern woman. You need a mobile phone so that when you run into trouble you can ring a man to get you out of it." Every now and then I try to sort out the chaos in which I live; one decision I made recently was to change banks. This worked very well but paying the mobile phone bill fell down the crack and when I picked up my old phone I discovered that the company had cancelled my service and I could not even use it if I wanted to. I paid my bill and the girl said to reconnect the service would be £35. I thought: "I am not paying £35 for a phone that never works" so I said: "It's been great but no thanks."

I picked up my pay-as-you-go. Pay-as-you-go is great till you discover you have run out of credits and cannot figure out how to top it up. There is no signal where I live. Unless you count the pigeons I occasionally snare and send back to London with coded messages like: "Send more coffee beans." I took the pay-as-go outside. I came back in because it was too wet. I took off my lambskin slippers (I feel guilty about them but not that guilty) and put on my wellies. I went out again. I walked along the access road waving the phone about as if I had poured gin and vermouth into it and was looking for a glass with an olive. No signal. I swore then went down on to the drying green where we dry our clothes in the North wind (whenever the tumble drier breaks down). Still no signal. I stood on one of the 44 molehills. Success - a signal. I tried to ring a number and a message came through with a three digit number to press. I called it and kept pressing "1" as you do till you talk to a real person. The real person was charming. I explained I wanted to top up the phone and he said: "No problem. What is your mobile number?" I said: "I have no idea." He said I had to ring off and get my sim card out and get the sim card number. I swore - but not at him. I went back in, trailing muddy footprints across the kitchen floor. I opened up the phone, swept away the sand which had inveigled itself into it and eventually extracted the sim card with my teeth. I wrote down the number and went back outside. I stepped back on to the mole hill, realised I had inserted the sim card in the wrong way round, swore and went back in. I unclipped the back of the phone, extracted the sim card, turned it around, clipped it up and went back out. I breathed deeply. I did the three digit thing, the pressing the "1" thing, and got another real and equally charming person. The signal was not as good this time, I think because I was slightly lower courtesy of having flattened the molehill from the earlier call. I explained I did not have the phone number but I did have the sim card number and gave it to him. He said: Great, thank you. May I have the first two digits of your four digit personal security number?" I said: "No, I have no idea what they are. Is that a problem?" He said: "Give me a minute please" and went to talk to his supervisor. I imagine the conversation went something like: "I have an idiot on the other end of the line. I am not sure she has any idea what a mobile phone is for, should I let her keep it?" Luckily the superviser had sex the night before and decided it was OK I could register myself, my debit card and get myself a new security code. We did all this, then the nice man in the call centre said: "I am afraid we are having problems topping up. You will need to ring back and do it yourself automatically." I contemplated burying the mobile phone in one of the molehills and telling the children they could have it if they could find it. I said: "OK, thank you for your help." I meant it, he was lovely. I called back and topped up the phone. It is simple when you know how. Yesterday, I go to use it and it tells me my sim card is not working. My friend who is with me when I realise this says: "I never have any problem with my mobile phone." I swear.

26 comments:

Norman said...

My mobile started to show signs of age. I've had it since 2001. The display keeps fading and returning. Then one day I dropped it. It works perfectly now. Geordie technology never fails.

nuttycow said...

Hello -

I've only just found your blog (which of course means I have to spend my time reading it right from the very beginning) but so far so very entertaining!

I know how you feel about "those" kind of friends... like when you're cooking and it goes horribly wrong and they happen to mention that it's "the easiest recipe in the world".

Grrr.

Have a good weekend.

Liz said...

hzYou are doing better than me. I can seldom get the back off mine. Break off 11 finger nails, then find the way I should be pushing it, and it's easy - till the next time. And how am I supposed to remember my preposterous number and that I have to enter the area code as well when dialing and why on earth would I want to be available everywhere so I can have daft conversations starting "I am on the bus" and get envious when I see children deftly thumbing their life stories into the keyboard? And then I saw a street altercation (remember, London?) and the entire bus dialled 999 and I decided they do have their uses after all.

Liz said...

Oops. Not the entire bus - the entire busful of passengers. Hmmm. That's not much better.

Mrs Miggins said...

I used to lay in bed pretending to be asleep when one of the children woke up in the vain hope that my husband would get up! It worked sometimes, laughed a lot at the vomit comments they bought back so many memories.

Mopsa said...

I could do with borrowing a couple of your mole hills - mobile phone reception in this part of Devon stinks. In a good way of course.

Margot said...

In London I was wedded to my mobile, but here it is a cellphone and I can happily leave it lying in the bottom of my handbag, uncharged for days. Sometimes people do try to call me on it, and I suppose they don't bother to leave a message either because they don't know me very well, or on the other hand, they do, but they know that my chances of replying are slim.

I too always wonder if I should have it in case of emergencies, but then on the occasions when it would have been useful either there was no signal, or I was too busy dealing with the emergency to use a phone. And anyway, my husband rarely answers his. So I feel no guilt about opting out of mobile society ...

belle said...

I have trouble with my mobile. I can get a signal. But my phone seems to take on the role of censor choosing to prevent me hearing people speaking. Only occasionally. Not so often that I'd be forced to change it. Sneaky.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Living on top of a hill means I don't need to use my tumble drier as much as I actually do due to the Northern winds we get. And as for mobile phones up here, you're lucky if you do get a signal. Par for the course of living remotely I fear.

Crystal xx

mutterings and meanderings said...

You need to get an O2 pay-as-you go, and go to the newsagents for a top up card. You just have to key the number on the top up card in once, and ever after, you toddle off to the newsagents/Co-op, hand over £10 and your top up card and hey presto - credit on the phone. O2 signal is decent around here.

mountainear said...

Semaphore flags would be more reliable than mobiles up in these hills - it's a case of stand on the bottom rung of the field gate and lean slightly to the left while squinting obliquely at the screen to see how many bars flicker into life.

Stinking Billy said...

A fellow technophobe! Suddenly I no longer feel alone in the world.

Eats Wombats said...

Beautiful. I laughed and laughed--about the phone. Yes, we've all been there.

Randy Higham said...

Hate mobile phones. Full stop.

Norman said...

Y'know, we all managed perfectly well long before these pesky mobiles were invented.
They are a VERY mixed blessing.

mcewen said...

I can't get to grips with my mobile phone either. Out here they always ask for your social security number [which is 9 digits] Everyone else in America has theirs committed to memory but I still don't have a clue. Hope she doesn't turn out to be a Calpol addict.
Cheers

Motheratlarge said...

I'm not allowing my husband to read this posting. It would confirm all his prejudice against mobiles. Tho' I suspect he would approve of moves to recycle the offending phone in the garden compost.

mutleythedog said...

If I walk too close to the sea the phone beeps and says "bienvenue au Francais" or some such froggy shit...

sunshine said...

I haven't a clue what Calpol is, but after a day like you had, perhaps a tumbler of it on ice for yourself might be appropriate! Instead of a tea party, you and your daughter could have a Calpol party. (sounds like it might be an opiate?) Probably tastes better on ice-----

Valleys Mam said...

Calpol -mothers milk -wonder medicine
My kids used to drink it from the bottle.
Its amazing its still going

Potty Mummy said...

I know the problem with signals; we live in a basement flat, and I used to think anyone watching me leap from end of it to the other trying to get a signal would think I was doing a particularly weird version of aerobics. But your martini analogy is much better.

@themill said...

I don't know how anyone raised children before Calpol was invented...

lady thinker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lady thinker said...

Mutt and meader is right some phone companys have far better reception out in the sticks. O2 is marvellous here but everytime my brother in law visits he has to climb to the back of the garden, up a steep hill, to make contact. Well I think that's what he's doing - maybe he too is looking for a glass with an olive in it. But I think he's checking out where the Virgin has gone.

occasional northerner said...

While I am surgically attached to mine I would rather a world without mobiles. I am not sure they are enhancing our existence one bit!

Mrs Miggins said...

Calpol was great until the kids came down off it!