May 31, 2007

A Road Traveled

After a weekend of roughing it in a tent, I found myself Monday night lounging on my parents couch channel surfing. Seeing as their TV is an LCD flat screen and mine has tin foil as an antenna, it was enjoyable to sit and flip mindlessly.

Only somewhat to my surprise, I found myself mesmerized my a documentary of the last days of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. She was the condom-wearing, outspoken rapper of the 90s girl group TLC. I remember when she died years ago thinking how crazy that of all the ways for her to die it was in a car accident in Central America. Now, having been to Central America myself, I was a little more curious to see how it was she spent her last days.

On my, Sara and Kristin’s Honduran adventure, we spent three days on the north coast of Honduras in Sambo Creek, a small village just outside the larger resort town of La Cieba. I was a little shocked to see La Cieba, Honduras as the place where most of the documentary was shot. However, I was speechless when they showed the last five minutes of Lopes' life. She turns the camera and says, “Hey let’s go down to Sambo Creek and shoot some of the vibe there.” Minutes later, she is shown driving very serenely down the road. There is a slight yelp and the camera pans to show the car swerving off the side of the road. Then it goes blank.

The road they were traveling on was the same road Sara, Kristin and I took countless times as we came and went during our three days on the Honduran north coast. I, of course, did not know this at the time we were driving - none of us did. But it is a little cool and a little creepy now to think we passed by that spot countless times without even knowing it bore any significance.

Lessons from a Five-Year-Old

I am at my parent's home in Michigan this week. With two weekends in a row of Michigan-related activities (camping and a wedding), I decided it best to take the week off instead of spend it in transit. And since I had nothing planned during the week, I was able to fill in babysitting duties of my nephew Jordan.

Here is what I learned today from Jordan:
- A Lego shark will float in water but a Lego snake will not.
- A dragon drawing isn’t complete until you add the scales.
- In Playstation 2 Lego Star Wars, you need to shoot at plants to get the gold and silver coins.
- Flat Stanley likes to read stories.
- It is more fun to throw toy cars over a sprinkler than it is to play in it.
- Jared’s beetle isn’t where they buried it any more.
- “And they didn’t kill anyone” is a happy ending to a good story.

May 22, 2007

Against The Odds

Phones are all about numbers. We use the numbers on ours phone to dial people. We collect other people’s numbers to call them. In the calendar of my phone, I use the dates to store starting and stopping times to mark events. Phones cannot exist without numbers, so it’s ironic that right now numbers are screwing up my phone service.

I hosted a bachelorette party this past weekend. Six girls (a number I previously thought impossible) stayed in my 500 square foot studio apartment. We gallivanted around Chicago and after hours of drinking, dancing and one fantastic drag show, we made it back safe and intact. The same can not be said for my phone.

We strolled into my apartment at 3 a.m. and my phone was on its last bar of service. This is not uncommon in any way. My phone over the past month has kept a charge for no more than 15 minutes at a time. I plugged it in not long after walking through my door but realized it wouldn’t take. The port where the charger connects was no longer intact. Without the charger my phone was rendered a very high tech paperweight. I couldn’t say I was all too surprised. One would expect that charging a phone approximately five times a day will result in a little wear and tear.

The previous week I went to a Verizon store to see if something could be done to salvage what little was left of my battery. There was nothing, and the best I was offered was a new battery for $32.95. The sales rep informed me I was due for an upgrade in a little less than two months - July 15, 2007. Not wanting to waste over $30 on a battery I’d used for a short amount of time, I chose to wait it out. Little did I know, my phone had another plan.

I marched to the closest Verizon store the day following the bachelorette party with one useless phone in hand. Thinking I’ve been a Verizon customer for nearly four years and that I’d be renewing my contract for another two in less than two months, I figured a new phone at a discounted price was as good as mine. To Verizon, those numbers did not add up, though. I left the store 10 minutes later with the number to customer service - something I felt sorely lacking at Verizon at that point and time.

When I finally did call customer service, I did to no avail. The lady on the phone told me pretty much the same thing as Russ at the store. “No, you can’t have the upgrade a few months early.” And when I asked what the reasoning was, the answer was along the lines of “because I said so.”

“Customer service” lady told me I had one of two options: to buy a new phone at full price (no) or to pay the $50 deductible through my insurance and get a new phone. It was a better option but still one that left me threatening to cancel my service all together. Why pay $50 for a phone I’ll use for less than 50 days? I inquired into canceling my service early - $175. Not a great option either. I hung up with “customer service” lady and calculated my options. In the end, it was cheapest to get the insurance phone and ride out my contract until September. In September I will switch phone companies, and while the digits on my new cell phone won’t change, I’m hoping the attitudes in customer service will.

For those of you reading, take note that I probably won’t have a working phone until Wednesday night. If you need to get a hold of me before then, try email. And if you have any suggestions as to which carrier I should switch to come September, I’m open to recommendations.