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Help, my cellphone’s dead again. April 20, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: ,

Silence Dogood here. In today’s smartphone world, cellphones probably seem almost as antique as phone booths, landlines, or (gasp!) rotary phones. Rotary phones?! You know, those things with the round dials with holes over the numbers and letters. To use one, you stuck your finger in the appropriate hole and moved it counterclockwise as far as it would go. You can still sometimes find them in antiques malls.

Now, our friend Ben and I are confirmed Luddites, using as little technology as possible and upgrading only when absolutely necessary. We still have a landline, and would still have a rotary phone had working from home not necessitated getting a stupid digital phone so we could have voicemail, speakerphone, and other work-related necessities. We still miss our rotary phone.

We would never, ever have caved and gotten a horrid cellphone were it not for our ancient VW Golf. Most of the time, the Golf abides. But occasionally, it bursts a tire or develops some other unfortunate problem that brings its forward progress to an abrupt and terminal halt, usually in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. And since, more often than not, I’m the one driving it at the time (it only seems to break down when OFB is away), our friend Ben put his foot down and insisted that I get a cellphone so I could call AAA should the need arise.

Great, another additional expense. But after a tire blew out en route home from a Friday Night Supper Club gathering on a backroad I didn’t even know the name of, in a part of the country where you’d be greeted by the business end of a gun if you knocked on someone’s door, when sure enough OFB was off on some jaunt in the Southwest, I decided that he had a point. So I got a cellphone, a Nokia, through AT&T, our long-distance carrier.

There’s just one little problem: I’m now on my third cellphone, and none of them will hold a charge. I never use them as actual phones, only when I need to call for help. I charge them once a week. Not one has been a dinky “get this phone free with a box of cereal when you shop at Wal*Mart” type phone. And yet. Every single miserable time I’ve needed to use the @#!$%$#@!!!! phone, it’s been dead. Every time. No charge, no light, no sound, no nothin’. Here I am paying God-knows-what a month for this stupid phone, and it’s never once come through.

Yes, it occurred to me that the phone might be defective, which is why I’ve traded them in three times. Each time, I’ve said that the only thing I wanted was a phone that would hold charge. Each time, the ten-year-old sales clerks have looked at me as though I were insane, and assured me that this time, I wouldn’t have a problem. Uh-huh.

Just this past Monday, I was meeting a friend at a restaurant, and she insisted that I call to let her know I’d arrived. (God forbid she could just show up when we’d agreed to meet and look for me.) So I get there, she’s not there, and I take out my cellphone and… nothing. Dead, black screen, totally dead. And yes, I really had charged it just the week before to the “battery full” point, and no, I hadn’t made a single call in the meantime.

I’m telling you, this makes me want to cry. What’s the point of paying monthly charges for a so-called safety device if, when you actually need it, it never works?! And why, why on earth doesn’t it work?!

Our friend Ben’s theory is that it doesn’t work because I only try to use it once every three months or so, and that, even though I charge it regularly, since I don’t use it, it loses charge. But that makes no sense to me. After all, OFB and I have a battery-operated weather radio. It sits there for nine months a year unused. Then, when the possibility of horrendous winter snow- and/or ice storms are upon us, we turn it on and its gives us the NOAA weather report as though we’d been using it every day of our lives. No dead batteries because we hadn’t been using it until we needed it. In two decades, we’ve had to replace the batteries exactly once.

So please, those of you who might be reading this post and know the answer, what’s the deal with my cellphone?!  For my safety’s sake, I’d really like to know. 

               ‘Til next time,




1. Victoria - April 21, 2011

Wow. No idea. We still don’t have a cell phone!

I wouldn’t have one either if I didn’t have to drive, Victoria! Not that it’s ever done me any good…

2. Retro Tech - April 21, 2011

A cellphone consumes power even when not making calls. You can’t really turn it “off” except by physically removing the battery. In my limited experience (2 phones), batteries run down in 3 to 4 days (with no recharging, and making no calls). Recharging “once a week” is not enough. Solution: Keep phone plugged into recharger most of the time (or at least overnight), except (obviously) when out traveling with it. Cheers.

Thanks, Retro Tech! That’s hugely helpful.

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