Cell Phones and Me, A History

I’ve never been much of a cell phone person. The first one I remember buying was for our honeymoon in 2002. We paid $100 for a phone that was supposed to be hearing aid compatible (it was also supposed to have a $100 rebate, which they DENIED for no reason – that still pisses me off). We brought a neckloop and tried to use the phone to call the kids. We never could get it to work – I couldn’t hear anything on it (and I used to use the phone regularly back then, when I still had some hearing). I don’t remember if we ever actually used that phone, although we did hold onto it in case we needed it in an emergency.

I think I gave up the idea of a cell phone until 2008, when I went deaf. Everyone else was getting obsessed with them but we were holdouts. Even my kids didn’t get cell phones until then – Eric bought his first cell phone with his own money in 2008, when he was a senior in high school. I think Paige might have gotten her first phone that year too – my mom bought it for her to use when they went on a cruise together.

Once I lost my hearing, I decided I needed a phone I could easily text with. I got a Virgin Mobile WildCard with a slide-out keyboard, and boy did I think I was something special. It was great, though – I mainly used it to keep in touch with the kids, and it was so helpful. I never used it to talk but Dave did on occasion. It was a pay-as-you-go phone so I had tons of minutes built up on it.

Eventually I found out about Sprint’s plan for the deaf and hard of hearing, which was $29.99 for unlimited data and texting. I upgraded to a Blackberry Curve and gave Paige my old phone (and all those minutes – which didn’t last long for a teenage girl). There was no phone call component to the Sprint deaf plan and that suited me just fine; in fact, incoming calls were actually blocked.

Then while I was merrily texting on my Blackberry, smartphones got popular. Everyone was swiping and tapping and phones were getting bigger instead of smaller. I decided I wanted a smartphone, but I didn’t want to pay the upgraded Sprint deaf/HOH plan price (at the time, it was an extra $10/month). I just didn’t use my phone enough to justify spending $40 plus tax. The Samsung Replenish, though, was a smartphone that didn’t incur the extra $10 charge. It was cute, with a keyboard like my Blackberry and a touch screen. I went ahead and upgraded but kept my $30/month plan for unlimited text and data.

It didn’t take long to realize the Replenish wasn’t much of a smartphone. It had very, very little memory and you could put maybe one or two apps on it, but that was it. Even using an SD card didn’t help. Dave hacked the phone, putting on a new kernel so I could put things on the SD card instead of the phone. (That’s a very basic way of explaining what he did – I have had to stop and ask him three times just to complete that sentence.)

By now the whole world was looking at their phones instead of their surroundings. Because my phone sucked, I still never got pulled into the cell phone obsession. I used it when I needed to, but most of the time I forgot it at home. I also turned it on maybe once a week. When I did finally turn it on, I’d have messages from people that apparently were sent days before, and I’d have to explain that I’d just turned on my phone and saw their message. I felt like the only person alive who didn’t keep their cell phone on all the time.

My plan with Sprint was up right about the time we moved here to Michigan. I really wanted a real smartphone but I couldn’t stand paying $50 a month when I was sure I wouldn’t use it that much. Dave did some research and found Republic Wireless. They had just released their Moto G and he liked the looks of the phone, so that was my birthday gift. Even better, the plan I picked was cheaper than the Sprint deaf/HOH plan — $25/month for unlimited calls, text and data (over WiFi and 3G network).

So I’ve been using my phone for almost six months now, and I love it. I still don’t find myself obsessed with the phone, but I do turn it on every day and most days I remember to take it with me when I leave the house. I haven’t had any problems using it – the service is great. I do find it very hard to hear on this phone, though, so I still really don’t use it for making phone calls. (Dave also finds it hard to hear.) I know they have apps that caption cell phone calls but I don’t really get how they work. I assume you have to use the phone on speaker mode so you can look at the screen to read the captions – I don’t want everyone listening to my conversation, sorry. I think you also have to get a special phone number for people to call so that the incoming call is captioned – something that just seems like a huge pain to me, especially when I barely remember my regular cell phone number to begin with.

Speaking of my cell phone number, I have two of them. Oddly enough, even though we bought this phone online when we were in Michigan, my phone number area code is the same as my area code was in Illinois – 630. It makes no sense, but I didn’t complain. So I have this 630 phone number, but a few days after I got my phone I started getting calls from numbers with a 269 area code, which is the area code for where I live now. Then I started getting Facebook notifications about engagements and whatnot for people I’d never heard of. A few times people would leave voicemails – I’d have Dave listen to them and they were usually from guys and usually about stuff that was for sale.

I figured I must have somebody’s old phone number, but how weird that all these people from my current 269 area code were calling a phone number in the 630 area code.

Last month I got a text from a guy wanting to know if it was still okay to go hunting in my backyard. “Nobody was home,” he wrote, “so I just wanted to check first.” I assume he meant this guy’s backyard and not mine, since I never heard any gunshots (and my backyard is big but not that big). I debated whether to text him back but in the end I didn’t. I did, however, do some more digging around and I found out that there’s a reason I was getting these weird calls and texts. My phone actually has two phone numbers, one for WiFi (which is the one I use) and one for the cellular network. This is how Republic Wireless explains it:

Every Republic phone has the Republic number that you know and give to others.  For those with cell service plans, there’s a second number that’s required and used behind-the-scenes to receive calls when Wi-Fi isn’t available.  You don’t normally need to worry about the Sprint number unless you’re receiving unwanted texts or calls because it was recycled from a former Sprint mobile customer.

So there ya go. I followed their instructions to find my Sprint number and it didn’t work – the phone was all, “Yeah, I can’t complete that number as dialed, sorry.” But one day, by accident, I noticed that when I turned the phone on for the day and quickly checked my phone number, it showed the 269 area code Sprint number. I guess it just shows while the phone is starting up, because once it finds our WiFi signal the phone number changes to the one I know and use.

Things seem to have slowed down with the unwanted calls and texts, but if it doesn’t stop eventually then I can ask them to change my Sprint number (and hope the new one doesn’t give me the same issues). Meanwhile, last night I turned on my phone (yes, I still forget to do it in the morning sometimes) and I had a missed call from an unknown number, and three text messages from a different unknown number.

The three messages were really one long message, from a woman who said, “You took Lila from me in 2012.” I saw that and big red flags went up – this guy stole his kid from her mom?! I kept reading and she said that her daughter wanted an update, and if he still had Lila to please let her know. I showed it to Dave and his first impression was the same – stolen kid. Then I said, “I think this is an animal, a dog or a cat. She said her daughter is asking about her.” So I wrote the lady and tried to explain the mix-up with the phone number. We had a nice conversation and ended by wishing each other Merry Christmas. I hope she finds her dog (the old owner of my phone bought the dog from her and used to send updates, but apparently has stopped).

It’s kind of interesting getting a glimpse into this guy’s life. I know his name now, from the lady who texted last night, but it’s so common it’s impossible to really find him. Not that I’d really know what to say. “Hey man, could you update your phone number on Facebook and take down your Craigslist ads and tell your friends they can still hunt in your backyard but they can reach you at your NEW number?”

I don’t know – I’m kind of curious to see what happens next.

About wendiwendy

I'm a real-life bionic woman.

Posted on December 22, 2014, in Cochlear Implants & Hearing Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Sometimes I feel like we live similar lives.. I also really didnt use my cell phone.. only got it cos I needed one for work as a petsitter.. but now since I got my texting phone.. I keep it on all the time.. since I get most my messages from there.. I no longer have a home phone (got rid of it when my hearing got worse).. find the cell is much better than captioning.. never really got into that..


  1. Pingback: A Confrontation I Didn’t Ask For | Sudden Silence

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