Tomorrow my phone will cease to be any use to me.
Texts, phone calls, emails, access to the internet; all will vanish. Gone will be the opportunity to read and post on Medium, the ability to receive text messages from friends, the chance to view uploaded photos of people’s pets and Facebook pictures of someone’s meatloaf dinner.
As I draw closer and closer to my destination, brown, unplowed fields will reveal that winter has not yet loosened its grip enough to ready the earth for the cotton and tobacco grown in this region.
My car will leave the interstate and glide through somnolent towns, where at some point between Creedmoor and Franklinton the GPS will go silent.
Contrary to what you might think, I’m not traveling to the remotest corners of the earth or even to Appalachia, where technology services are rumored to be sub par. I’m headed to my mother’s house, located on Main Street in a town that is the county seat, home to a small junior college and is only 30 miles north of Raleigh.
So why is phone service lacking?
The problem started with our trip to Greece last year. My husband decided to switch us from Sprint to T-Mobile because he said T-Mobile provided better service overseas. That might be true, although I didn’t try to call anybody from Greece because I didn’t want to risk chatting with family members who might disrupt our vacation with emergency reasons to come home.
One month after the Greece trip we visited my mother and discovered that our phones were dead.
T-Mobile didn’t have service coverage in a swath of the country that included my mother’s town and about 20 miles of surrounding tobacco fields. My mother, whose greatest concession to technology is her television, doesn’t have internet, either. Our hot spot wouldn’t even work.
We felt mocked when we saw this T-Mobile ad on TV:
A man and woman were snuggled in sleeping bags camping out miles from nowhere when a familiar jingle interrupted their solitude. The cell phone was ringing!
T-Mobile will provide service everywhere, even if you are camping far away from civilization with only the sound of crickets to keep you company, was the jist of the ad.
My husband got mad and called T Mobile. They were apologetic, but assured us service would be reaching my mother’s home within six months.
It’s been a year now, and that hasn’t happened.
I went to Walmart yesterday before setting off on this trip and bought a phone for $4.99 along with some minutes. I was relieved to discover that I could use Google Maps on the phone, since I’m directionally challenged to the point where I could conceivably get lost in a parking lot.
At least I’ll be able to find my way to my mother’s, where I will rock in a front porch swing, answer a wall phone and listen to crickets at night.
I mentioned to my husband that we might want to switch back to Sprint, but he reminded me that we’re going to Russia this summer, where T-Mobile has better service.