My Mother and Her 4 Cell Phones

Normally I have lunch with my mother on Tuesdays. Not every Tuesday. But maybe two or three Tuesdays a month. I started taking care of her bills last year. They seemed to be getting away from her. So she and I decided that I would take over that duty. It’s just one less thing that she has to worry about. On a recent Tuesday, I ran into Fuzzy’s and got us a couple of tacos and some queso. No two people love queso as much as my mom and I. You should see her eyes light up when queso comes out of a sack!  But this isn’t about queso, this is about cell phones.

One of the things that I take care of for her is her cell phone.  She occasionally has trouble with it.  She has lost it on ocassion. I have ordered her another one, knowing that she would find the lost one once the new one was ordered. She has occasionally let the battery completely run down on it. When this happens she plugs it in and waits for it to charge. After several hours she checks it and finds that she still cannot use it. She will call me on the phone and tell me “I need a new cell phone. This one is broke.” What has happened is the phone has turned itself off and she doesn’t know how to turn it back on. So one of us will go over there, push the green button and Voila! It’s fixed! This has happened at least twice in the last year. She has also said that she needs her air conditioning in her van fixed, only for us to find that the snowflake (A/C) button isn’t pushed in.

So after we ate, I was sitting at her desk going thru her mail, when all of a sudden she jumped up and said “I’ve got something I need you to do!!” and ran off into the other room. She very much reminded me of my grandmother, her own mother, when she did this. I don’t know if it was her tone of voice, her hand movements, or what. But guess what she came back with? A new cell phone still in the AT&T box.

I asked her, “Where did you get this?”  She said she didn’t remember as she handed me the box.  I opened the box to find a Samsung Galaxy Rugby.  In the box was a receipt from Radio Shack for the purchase of a phone for $19.99.  Now there were a lot of questions I should have asked at that particular moment.  They did not come to mind until I went back to work and my brain started to wrap itself around some of the things that were said and happened during that little lunch period.  She said, “I want to be able to take pictures.”

So I asked her “Is this a phone that you have to add minutes to?”  She shrugged her shoulders.  I asked her where her other cell phone was.  The one that she uses all the time.  The one that I pay the bill for each month.  She went into the other room and returned with three more cell phones.  Her regular black flip cell phone, a red flip cell phone she lost last year, and a Kyocera flip phone that I had never seen before in my life.  She opens up the Kyocera phone as my head begins to spin and says to me “This one doesn’t have any of my phone numbers in it.  I just use it when I want to call long distance.”

This is where I should have asked “Why don’t you use this phone?” as I picked up the black cell phone.  But I didn’t.  I took the Kyocera phone and turned it on and saw that it had the “Virgin Mobile Prepay” logo on it.  So I sat that aside and said “We won’t worry about this one right now.  It’s one of those you have to add minutes to.”  Then I turned my attention to the Samsung phone.  At this point, I guess part of my brain shut down.  For some reason I assumed this was also a “Pay as you go” phone.

I took the sim card out of her cell phone that we pay for every month and put it in the Samsung phone.  I tested it and it worked with that cell phone.  Then I put everything back the way it was because it was time for me to leave and go back to work.  As I put everything back I tell her “Your sim card works in this Samsung.”  I’ll come over next week and swtich it over for you.  We’ll have to make sure you know how to use it.

I leave her house with a slight sensation of vertigo.  But I’m finally able to push those questions that are nagging at me aside.  After being back at my desk for a couple of hours I suddenly realize I didn’t ask the question I should have asked.  I wondered why a Samsung Rugby would be sold as a “pay as you go” phone for only $19.99.  That was the price on the receipt that she showed me.  But mainly I did not ask “Did you sign any paperwork?”

So I pick up the phone and call her and ask this question.  She says “Yes, I signed some paperwork.  I should have shown it to you, but I forgot.”  So I ask her to go get the paperwork and call me back.  She calls me back and I ask her “On that paperwork is there anywhere on there that it says anything about a monthly fee?”

She says “It say’s the monthly rate is $59.95.” I ask her “Why would you sign a contract for a phone at $59.95 per month, when you’re only paying $28.95 now?”  We have a conversation where I confuse the hell out of her and she sends my head spinning all over again.  So I ask her “When did you get this phone?”  She says she thinks she got it Monday, because she was having trouble with her cell phone.

Knowing that time is of the essence and that she probably has at least 14 days, I call my niece and ask her if she will take this phone back and get the contract cancelled or pay a fee or whatever needs to be done.

My niece goes to my mother’s and finds that the receipt that I saw was for the Kyocera prepaid phone and the AT&T Samsung phone was purchased at Walmart.  My niece takes my mother to Walmart and spends at the very minimum, a hour getting this taken care of.

Now I know my mother wants a new phone.  She also wants a phone that she can take pictures with.  I looked at the Consumer Cellular site and they have the exact same Samsung that she got from AT&T.  So I’ve ordered that phone for her.  When I told her I was going to order the phone, she told me “Oh let’s not bother with a new phone.”  But I know she said this because she feels that she put us all out.

I’ve scolded her.  I’m pretty sure my niece scolded her.  But she has always been the type of person that leaps before she looks.  She has always been a very independent woman.  It doesn’t have to do with aging.  Maybe the four cell phones do.  But not the wanting a new phone.  So even though she told me not to, I ordered her phone and I think she will be happy with it.

It has taken me over a week to write this little story.  I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of relating exactly what happened over the course of a couple of days last week.  Mainly because each time I started writing and recalling the sequence of events, my head would start to spin just a bit.  It’s spinning just a bit right this very minute.

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