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We arrived back in the UK to rain, a traffic jam and total exhaustion. It’s two days later and when I close my eyes I still feel I’m driving somewhere near Tours. So what better than to spend two hours the day after a 10-hour drive trying to get my phone sorted? Before that it was hit and miss whether any of my text messages would get through to people, let alone calls, and I had to wait till I hit a pocket of connectivity at around 3.45pm before I could get voicemail. Even in the phone shop I texted someone five minutes away and the message didn’t send.
Things began well. They said I could have a new phone under my contract – not only that, but it would be cheaper and come with a telephone wifi gadget. Of course, none of these things are ever straightforward and the man in the shop then inquired about my landline bills in an effort to sell me a ‘bundle’. He got me at a weak point in post-travel exhaustion. “What’s your monthly bill?” he inquired. I hazarded a guess, but as it changes a lot between months due to international calls and work interviews it is hard to gauge.
He rang my landline provider for me to find out and passed me the phone. After failing security question number four and having to show my driving licence to the man in the shop I was able to find out my monthly bill. “But it’s much higher than that usually,” said the man on the end of the line. “You have a lot of international calls. Have you considered an international booster?” I had never even conceived of such a thing as an international booster. The man in the shop was pacing the floor as the man on the phone tried to sell me a new deal, even though I had never even mentioned my landline phone and had no particular intention of agreeing anything. In the meantime, it seemed foolish not to accept a better deal on my existing package.
The man on the phone set up a new package with an international booster and then took ages repeating all the benefits. The man in the shop was looking peeved. The man on the phone explained that there was a new system which meant I could bypass security questions next time round and he was putting me through to register for it. I hung up hurriedly and the man in the shop told me he could outdo the monthly charges on the landline and presented me with a new contract. I felt guilty for taking up so much time with the man on the phone so I said yes.
There then followed a long wait for papers to be finalised and data to be transferred. Only son was cock a hoop. “Can I have your old phone, mum?” he asked, climbing onto the seat. “Look, I’m very big now. I need a phone.” My old phone is clogged up with his apps which he has carefully ordered into folders, meaning I can never find anything, including the phone or text messages. I could give only son my old phone with no sim card and keep my new phone all for myself. This whole phone thing was turning into a win, win, win, even if it was taking for ever.
An hour later we were still waiting for the data transfer so we went off to get some food for only son and go to a charity shop for daughter one. “I hope we aren’t going to New Look,” said only son very loudly. “I hate New Look.” We entered the charity shop. It was full of clothes. “I HATE charity shops,” announced only son who has three older sisters and spends a lot of time in clothes shops.
We had to make a fairly speedy exit and returned to get the phone and the car wifi gadget. So far I have texted daughter three who was at a sleepover the night after returning from Spain and only went to sleep at around 9am the next morning. I went to pick her up with only son who wanted to show all her friends his new phone. Only son had had his own sleepover with daughter one, which didn’t go to plan since he fell asleep before the midnight feast and she doesn’t get up till midday.
I was still mentally driving along the A10 in France so my brain was on pause and I got completely lost going round and round the small village where daughter three’s friend lives. I think I circled it three times. At some point I thought I might circle it for ever.
And now it’s back to work, even though I’ve been checking my emails daily all holiday to avoid post-holiday email deluge. At least now I can do it on my phone and in the car.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.