Well, I have had an interesting couple of days with phones my friends. It all started in New London Connecticut this past Saturday evening. I had just attended Carl Franklin's birthday party, watched a wickedly funny taping of his show Mondays (that I was part of in the early days) and of attempted to learn to like bourbon (it didn't take, I think I'll stick to fine wine) and saw some good friends like Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randall (the newlyweds), Richard Campbell and Stacy Holt, Scott Hanselman and his lovely wife Mo, Patrick Hynds and lovely wife Sabine, Miguel Castro, Mark Miller, Don XML and of course the birthday boy himself, Carl Franklin and his lovely wife Gretchen (the hostess with the mostess).
I returned to the hotel after this...and as I slept peacefully my Motorola Q was supposedly charging happily through the USB connection to my laptop. Something tragic happened this unsuspecting night. I woke to the Q completely dead...the power to the wall no longer servicing the laptop...but the laptop still had charge which meant that I had power for most of the night...for sure (Vista would have sucked it dry of charge in 1.5 hours flat). The phone should have been charging and greedily sucking laptop battery power...so I knew something was amiss.
In haste I plugged the laptop in elsewhere and tried connecting the phone once again. Not one of my USB ports of my Sony Vaio (the old laptop) would give the phone charge. Concerned, I fired up the new Acer Travelmate, trying its USB ports...one of them gave charge. Relief...or so I thought. So I grabbed a coffee and strolled down to the beach for 1 hour, expecting to return to a charged Q...ready to use.
The Q was not charged enough to boot at least. Try as I might, nothing would give the Q enough charge to boot.
I went down to brunch with Richard, Stacy, Kimberly and Paul...for sure one of them would have a suggestion for my problem. They are geeks after all (well, except Stacy...she's cooler than a geek). In fact, Stacy thought I could revive it with the wall charger, thus I had to wait patiently to arrive home before I could be sure.
I felt naked without my phone...and I had to fly home that way.
This was the beginning of the nightmare I call "will I get home tonight?".
If I had had my working cell phone, I would have logged in to the internet to see if my upgrade went through, and discovered the flight was delayed 4 hours leaving Providence. Alas, I find this out at the airport, and they put me on standby for the earlier flight that was supposed to leave at 2pm, now leaving at 5pm, which is when my flight was supposed to leave. So many questions:
- Will I get on the flight? If not, shouldn't I be having dinner with the gang back at Carl's instead of sitting in the airport that has no Starbucks?
- If I do get on the standby flight...will I make my connection?
- If I don't, can I stay with my friend Gillian in Chicago?
- If I arrive on the late flight should I stay with Gillian anyways, or just head to a cheap local hotel since I have to return to catch the morning flight in?
- How the hell can I coordinate all this crap without a freaking cell phone!?!?!?
And so Part 1 of the nightmare begins...
There was a line of Verizon pay phones right by the gate so I stared at them for a few minutes first, trying to remember how to use them. Let's see, you can use coins, a calling card (no go here), or credit card. It looks like you can get 4 minutes with 4 quarters, so I went for it, I got change.
- Call #1: Put in 4 quarters, several drop out, finally 4 stay in. I call Gillian to see where she is at. The call rings, and then stops dead. I hang up, quarters pop out.
- Call #2: I call the operator, ask for help, put in the 4 quarters again, call goes through, then goes nowhere. I hang up, quarters drop out.
- Call #3: I call the operator, ask to pay with credit card. No problem, give the numbers, call goes through. Gillian is not answering (probably out running a marathon or something) so I leave a message. Oh, wait, she can't call me back...tell her to leave a message with my machine I'll check my messages and tell her to keep her damn phone on (don't worry, we go way back to university days in Toronto).
- Call #4: I call the operator, ask to pay with credit card again...once again give all the numbers, call goes through to Gillian. Tell her she could also call Andres just in case. Tell her I'll call back if I don't get on standby.
Now I'm sick of putting in the dang credit card number every call, so I hook up my laptop. Of course no cell phone so I have to get a T-Mobile day pass first...now I'm online. Yes! I have Skype-to-phone all hooked up...so I call my cell and check messages...nothing yet. Where's Gillian?
Wait a bit, IM with Richard and Carl about my delay...wish I was having dinner and drinks over there...standby sucks.
We finally have an ETA to leave Providence on the standby flight...later than we thought, I'm definitely missing my connection. Oh, by the way all of this due to weather in Chicago...they were in chaos over there.
- Call #5: I Skype to Gillian's cell...ahhhh...much easier than stupid credit card pay phone calls...and faster. New update, I'm missing connection, if I don't call in 1 hour, I got on standby, let's have dinner!!! Yeah! Leave a message on my stupid cell phone and I'll manage to check them somehow via T-Mobile.
- Call #6: just before flight is to leave, check messages. Easy, Skype to my cell...ahhhh...I love this. And, only .021 cents per minute! I wish I could think of more calls to make ... this is fun...but I should do some work...
I get on standby...awesome...but I'm still going to miss my connection so that's the next mess to deal with in Chicago.
Arrive to Chicago in one piece...OMG the airport is in complete chaos...people laying around all over the place...piles and piles in each gate area...just a mess.
I go to a pay phone again. I'm scared, I can hear the theme from Jaws in my head as I approach the line of pay phones...but I go in to make the call anyways. There was no room to sit and fire up my computer.
- Call #7: Call the operator to use my trusty credit card again...wouldn't you know you can't charge a local call to a credit card? I wanted to call Gillian, tell her I would be able to make my flight.
- Call #8: I plop in 2 quarters to make a local call...plunk plunk...they drop through. I go to the next two pay phones, same result. I call the operator again and explain that the phones won't take my quarters, I don't have a calling card...how do you suppose I make a local call? "Sorry, I can't help you" is the response. PAY PHONES SUCK!
- Call #9: Can I make a long distance call using my credit card please? I call my cell phone, check messages. PROBLEM. When I hit # to go into voice mail to check messages...the call disconnects. CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. I try again...in case I'm mistaken. Yet another credit card call. Hit #. CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. I can't check freaking voice mail from a pay phone!!!!
At this point I'm really pissed. I go to the United Red Carpet lounge...fire up the computer, fire up Skype.
- Call #10: I Skype my dead cell phone to check messages. Gillian has left a few messages regarding her plans for the night.
- Call #11: I Skype Gillian, whazzup? At last she answers!!! Yeah!!! I update her on my flight status.
- Call #12: I Skype Andres...I'm getting on the flight...check the Internet for landing time!
At last, the phone call hell ends. I can go to my gate, catch my second late flight, and make my way home to sleep. If only I had more battery left in my computer to get more work done.
Now, to deal with the broken phone.
Charging it in the wall charger didn't solve the problem...call Verizon. No, not from a pay phone...from a home phone. We try to reset the phone, no go. Luckily I'm within tye 1 year warranty, they'll ship me a new Q overnight! Yeah! So, we switch the phone number over to my backup phone, the VCast Chocolate. And here another short saga begins...but I'll save that for the next post.
The moral of this story is:
- Travelling without a cell phone is a nightmare
- Pay phones are useless
- Pay phone operators are useless
- It is a good idea to set up a Skype-to-phone account for emergencies, and carry your headset with you of course
- Have a backup cell phone handy in case your phone bites it and you need to swap out