Monday, November 24, 2008

The 199 Euro Mistake

To Trofie Wife, communication is key, and she will go to any and all lengths in order to stay in touch. For example, when my cell phone died on my 27th birthday (a day when you really want your phone by your side), I bought a rechargeable (read: disposable) model by Virgin while Verizon repaired my usual model. A few days later, when I called to cancel what I had viewed as a temporary service and the customer service guy (in the spirit of everything Richard Branson touches, even this guy sounded cool) asked why, I said that I had needed a new phone for just one day. He said, “Wow, that’s cold.” Cold? Yes. Economically unwise? Perhaps. But necessary. Very, very necessary. And it’s this penchant for constantly being plugged in that is the source of the present expensive dilemma.

So, as mentioned in an earlier post, my Web recharge for what I had hoped would be another 100 hours (but was really only another 15, since I had run through the promised 100 hours prior to the end of the billing month and was on the pricey hourly payment plan) ran out, and the Internet’s absence from our apartment led to a minor panic attack that hit some existentialist notes (“if the Internet is down and Martello’s at work, do I still exist? My forest of friendly ears is gone, and I’m a falling tree…”). When I arrived in Voltri last Monday morning, I let out a “you have got to be kidding me!” when I saw the steel grate deployed over the doorway without any explanatory note.  Dejected, I took the train back to Arenzano and tried to communicate my cyber needs to the folks in the Arenzano Vodafone outlet but learned that they did not recharge Internet keys (how they manage to sell the things but are incapable of recharging them, I do not understand…). As the abyss of lunchtime set in, I headed home where I could mope in front of my computer while desperately trying to pawn some wireless from a local network, to no avail. As 15:30 (that’s 3:30 p.m., to those of you who still use a 12-digit clock) came around, I had the good sense to call the Voltri store in hopes that they might be open in the afternoon. It was my first phone call entirely in Italian (I think I said three words and the guy on the other line, two). Low and behold they were open Monday afternoons (they just take the morning off)! And when I arrived I learned that I could sign up for the unlimited plan! There would be no download or upload limit! No time limit! Freedom! But, alas, my dreams were thwarted as THEIR connection line was down, crippling them from signing any new contracts. For two days, I was relegated to portals at the Internet shop, where at least I could check my inbox, if not balance my checkbook and apply for jobs. By Wednesday afternoon the Voltri shop’s line was fixed, and my unlimited plan was rolling. Once again, the valiants of Voltri, along with the pinch hitters at the Internet point by the train station, were my connectivity heroes. Thanks to them, all is now fantastico, and thus the blog (as well as my sanity) is now back up and running.

The only catch now is that in unwisely opting for the rechargeable key back in September, we wasted 199 euros, because the rechargeable key can’t be used for the unlimited contract, go figure—they have a different USB attachment that’s roughly double the size of the rechargeable key. Trofie Wife sincerely hopes that the dollar will rise in value to the euro so that the mistake will cost us less when we inevitably get hit with an early cancellation fee (which equals the cost of the USB device, thus another 199 euros, which will then make this a 398 euro misadventure).

Buyer’s remorse aside, to celebrate our return to network normalcy, Martello and I dreamed up (with the help of our cookbook) an excellent fish stew with tomatoes and leftover rice and peas. It was delicious. Almost as delicious as unlimited Internet…

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

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