Before I regale you with my tale, I feel as if I should preface this with a disclaimer:
I understand that times are hard. I understand it is likely, at one time or another, to run into some tight times - financially speaking - and have to make hard decisions as to what bill gets paid and which has to wait. I've been there, more times than I care to remember. So, before anyone accuses me of being insensitive to economic woes, hear me out.
Approximately 3.8 seconds after we walked out the door, the phone rang.
"May I speak to Betty Wilson*?"
I think nothing of this request. "I'm sorry, but you have the wrong number."
Sounds of disdain, "Hmm. Okay, is this 321-555-2558*?"
"Yes, it is. But this isn't Rita's phone. I can assure you. We just bought and activated a cell phone, and this is the number we were given."
The caller gave me a curt, "Thank you," and hung up.
From September until March, that was the routine until I finally snapped. Sure the conversations varied a bit, but the result was all the same. The final straw was when a customer service rep informed me that Betty had just filled out an application online for a car loan and this was number provided.
I called Verizon and BEGGED them to do something, anything, because I couldn't take the constant barrage of calls anymore. In less than one hour on that last day, I had fielded over seventeen calls. Give or take.
What I didn't know, probably because I still have the same cell phone number I've always had and the only time I've ever changed land line numbers is when we moved and I can assure you no one is bothering the innocent people that now may have our old numbers, is that you can change your mobile number for free.
Within ten minutes of talking to the sweet Verizon customer service representative, a new number was assigned and the calls stopped. Much to the chagrin to the creditors, I am sure.
Fast forward to present day.
We are standing in Verizon once again, adding a line to our account.
"Would you like the same area code as your others?"
Tap-tap-tap. "Okay. There aren't a lot of numbers in your exchange**, but I did grab you this number: 555-2558."
Hold the phone. I looked at my husband. "Wait. Doesn't that sound familiar? Isn't the number we changed back in the spring?"
He looks at me, "I have no idea."
The sales rep says nothing.
"Well, I am pretty sure it is, but surely the bill collectors have given up by now. Either way, I know I can change it if need be."
The sales rep still says nothing.
Lo and behold, we were assigned the same number. Again.
A whole twenty-four hours of silence passed, probably because of the weekend, before the calls and texts came in. All wanting Betty Wilson.
This time I knew what to do.
Thanks to mobile number change with Verizon, within two minutes, we had a new number assigned to the youngest's phone.
Let's just hope this is a brand new number, or if nothing else, someone that had been a tad more fiscally responsible.
*This is a fake name and number, obviously. However, given the sheer number of minutes that have been eaten up trying to get the creditors/debt collectors/distant cousins to quit calling, I'd should post her name and number here. But I don't roll that way.
**I may have rolled my eyes. Really? In all of Middle Tennessee, every possible combination is currently in use?
***To be fair, I did like this sales rep. He was probably sick of me, though. Photo credit: The awesome Someecards Tweet
Back in the fall of 2011, we dropped the boys off to play at their football game and my husband says to me, "I think we should get the boys a cell phone."
At the time, they were in 7th and 6th grades, respectively. The only extracurricular activity either did was the Pep Band*. No issues for lack of a communication device had popped up. Even though I knew they were both getting at the age that most kids had cell phones, I was hesitant.
We looked a number of options and finally decided we would get one phone by simply adding a line to our existing plan. We thought it was the most economical option. No one child would have full possession of said phone. But as soon as our two-year contract was locked in, I knew I had made a mistake.
One of the rare times Darrin was able to procure the phone to text me. Sometimes it's a wonder they still talk to me.
As predicted, a year-long fight over who actually owned the phone and its constant whereabouts caused civil unrest, a couple of tornadoes, and grey hairs that can only be covered by a skilled professional.
Lesson #1: Either get cell phone for one child or bite the bullet and get one for each.
Lesson #2 (Bonus!): Have twins. Or triplets! My boys are fourteen months apart. If they both get something at the same time, the younger is excited, but the older feels gypped. If I give only the elder child something, like a cell phone,
the younger will keep a tally to make sure he gets his fair share in a timely matter.
Staring in summer of '12, the younger child started counting down to the day he should acquire his phone: September 12. I thought he was wrong. So much so, I had to get out old statements to see for myself. In my mind, we got the extra line in November. He was right, of course.
Practically to the minute.
Thankfully, the stars aligned, and the oldest child has officially taken possession of the first phone while the younger now has his own.
Looking at the calendar, it looks as though we don't have any major milestones until the elder son turns fifteen and gets his permit. At least then, I have the law to dictate who gets what when.
*Pep Band is the middle school version of marching band. A select number of students play at the home football and basketball games. They love it.
Time has been tick, tick, ticking along. You might have heard it.
Since September, my youngest son has been counting down the days since he was "supposed" to get his own cell phone. And by "supposed", I mean..well, it's a long story.
So, we had to wait until November until Big Daddy was eligible for an upgrade, and then a whole lot of other things happened, and the next thing I knew it was January. Big Daddy came home from work and laid his busted phone in my lap.
FYI, if you drop a canned good on the pocket containing your phone, it will crack the screen.
Long story short, the youngest child has been now been gifted with his first phone. After I had it activated, I immediately added his number to my contacts because my ability to remember a number diminishes by the minute. I could just see him calling me one day. I'd be all, "Hmm. I don't know that number; I'm not going to answer."
To add to his excitement, I quickly sent him a text so that I would be his first. My side of the conversation is blue:
By the time I got the message, "My mother is right beside me...," I was cracking up. My son WAS sitting just across from me. I was all, "Darrin! I am texting you. What is your deal?"
Darrin, putting down his iPod Touch: "Huh? What? I didn't text you."
Me: "What? Yes you did. Look..."
Then the realization hit. I checked my contacts.
Of course, you already knew what I did before I made it this far, right?
I know I am not alone; there are entire websites built on text message boo-boos. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you? Come on, laugh WITH me.
She apparently didn't like my welcome mat, or maybe the guest towels were scratchy, because three weeks into the new year, my husband got the call he was losing his job.
And for the entirety of the year, that has been on the forefront of my mind. Every thing that has happened, both good and bad, is attributed to that day. Up until a couple of days ago, I was ready to give the last year another finger gesture, a few choice words, and slam the door in her face. Then I saw a post on Facebook, and it changed my perception:
"Waking up 365 days....no one should say 2012 was a bad year."
I am cautiously optimistic as to what 2013 will bring. This year some major milestones are happening:
My eldest child will leave her teen years and dip her toes into her 20s.
My middle child will graduate from middle school.
My youngest child will become a teenager.
To commemorate the upcoming year, I am starting a new tradition, another found on Facebook:
Part of the problem lies is I don't like shopping. Add-in overly heated stores, extraordinarily loud music, and throngs of snotty, disobedient children (and a few adults, too) and it's a wonder I ever leave the house from Thanksgiving to New Years.
I've been racking my brain for the better part of three months on what to get my husband for Christmas. We haven't bought anything for each other for years, but I was sick of that plan or the idea, rather. He always found a loophole and seemed to come up with something or two for me. The selfish part of me was sick to death of feeling like a cheapskate for "following the rules." I scrimped and saved and took odd jobs* this year in order to have extra to get him a few things.
Except I had no idea what to get him. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not that I've been a gem in previous years, as I could not name five things I've bought since 1997.
And for the record, I asked him if he could remember anything over the last fifteen-ish Christmases.
He's still thinking.
I better charge my phone tonight. It's sure to be ringing off the hook tomorrow with people needing help with their holiday shopping. Clearly, I am all about making memories at my house.
I finally caved and asked him to make me a list of his desires for this year. And much to my surprise, he did. Let me translate the chicken scratches for you:
watch (leather band)
larger tool chest
Ford F150 Extended Cab flat screen for bedroom
money for wallet
surround sound system
books, anything Templars
board game (getting tired of winning on the games we have)
I don't know how much work he thought I've done this year, but apparently he subscribes to the same wish-list methods as my children. Although, I will say I wish I could get him the F150.
Oh wait! I did!
Actually, it's a F350 but figured it was 2.34 times better than what he asked for, right?
The most fun I had was picking out the truck (heh) and the game. Because I picked out 5 Second Rule.
I will always win.
Hey, what do you know? Maybe I like Christmas shopping after all.
Disclosure: No Christmas was ruined in the making of this post. Big Daddy doesn't know the title of my blog, let alone how to find it.
*I am for hire! Will work for money, gift cards, accolades, product, etc. But mostly money. Accolades don't pay for the electric. And I need to start thinking about Christmas 2013. Just in case the Mayans were wrong.
No surprise; I didn't finish 50,000 words in 30 days. In the eyes of the contest, I didn't succeed, however, I chose to say I won.
I DID write more than 15,000 words on a single piece. Which means I have a foundation for a story, a good start on the first draft. There is a family, living in a small southern town, dealing with their new found celebrity status. I can't just leave them hanging.
I started another project I am super excited about, a piece that will be a collaborate effort. Which means I was still writing.
I learned that even with things are going rough in my life, putting fingers to keyboard (and sometimes pencil to paper) is therapy.
I am part of a local writers' group, and the best support group a writer could look for. Last night we had our quarterly Night of Learning. Our assignment was to bring our current WIP, and on a whim, I printed out in it's entirety. In flipping through it, I thought, "Hmmm. This has potential."