Disconnect

kindly refrain from cell phone use

Three months ago I posted here about my cell phone’s imminent demise. In fact, it didn’t die of natural causes. I euthanized it.

At precisely 1:43 a.m., Boost Mobile sent me a text message on that phone advising me to attend to the credit card on the account. It was, in fact, due to expire in 60 days. So I need a message waking me up in the middle of the night? I couldn’t even do anything about it since I hadn’t received my new card in the mail yet.

I don’t know if you, while reading the paragraph above noticed but I got that text in the early morning hours. And, while I know there are reasons to “explain” such an interruption of my sleep, they are none of them valid.

I keep a phone handy at night for two very special reasons. They are my son and my daughter. My daughter lives next door but her house backs to the woods where there have been bears. Bears on decks trashing stuff. Bears, bears. I keep a phone on for a listen in case there’s trouble down the way. And my son is a police officer of recent enough standing that he’s out nights mostly. That’s the phone call I never want to get. So when the stupid phone went off in the middle of the night, I jolted awake wondering which disaster had fallen—not even thinking about the void of despair of Boost Mobile that my credit card might at some future point decline the monthly charge.

When I looked into ways to register my displeasure with Boost Mobile, there frankly isn’t any. Oh sure, you can dial up their number but you’ll be led into a cavernous puzzle of automated menu selections, none of which says “If you’re ticked off at Boost and would like to complain about it, press 9.” “For sympathy, dial 0.”

I went to the Boost Mobile Web site. Now there’s a laugh. They do, in fact, have a place for an e-mail (which most likely goes into some vast ether bin of forgotten digital notes). I would have written one anyway, if only to cool off from their labyrinthine customer service menu, but for the fact of not knowing my four-digit pass code. I simply cannot remember ever having gotten one. I mean, I probably did since a nice friendly place like Boost wouldn’t ask me for it otherwise, but I was shucked if I knew it.

Silly me—I then sallied off to the local Boost Mobile store. That was far less enigmatic as a BIG sign at the door says that they only “sale” Boost Mobile phones. For anything account related, you have to call the number I had already called and cursed. Apparently there have been other less-than-satisfied customers visiting–this was, for me, a consolation in some weird small way.

Upon returning home, I found a Facebook page for Boost Mobile. I poured out my distress in a Wall post. The oh-so-diligent poor soul sent to mind the Facebook that day replied weakly, misspelling my name. Those of you familiar with Facebook will know that your name is RIGHT THERE. When I not-so-serenely pointed this out in a reply of my own, yet another minion of Boost now gave me the brilliant option of turning my phone off at night. I wonder, then, would they reduce my bill by a third, since I have to turn it off so as not to be needlessly disrupted by them?

After a short side trip into a Cricket phone which service is a joke in my particular area, I am now sans cell phone. At first it was a little creepy, but I’m getting the hang of it. I do now, though, have to go get a watch. Do they still make those?

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Taking Charge

Published in 1977 by the American Friends Service Committee Simple Living Collective, this book

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has had a profound impact on my life. I had graduated from high school and probably bought it brand spanky new at the bookshop I managed. I’ve dragged this book around through 35 years of life, pulling it off the shelf here and there—to re-read quick passages while a young mother, drinking in longer views and rereads as my children and other changing responsibilities shape-shifted my life. I crafted my outlook on economics, politics and just how one is to live in a society largely based on the queries, analyses and ideas contained in it.

The last portion of the book is devoted to The Shakertown Pledge, which was originated by a group of Friends (Quakers) at a meeting at a retreat center on the site of the restored Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, in response to concerns around global poverty/ecological crises. I typed out my own copy on my old Remington typewriter, inserted a signature line and thoughtfully signed it. I’ll type it out again for you to see:

The Shakertown Pledge

 Recognizing that the earth and the fullness thereof is a gift from our gracious God, and that we are call to cherish, nurture, and provide loving stewardship for the earth’s resources.

 And recognizing that life itself is a gift, and a call to responsibility, joy, and celebration.

 I make the following declarations

 1. I declare myself to be a world citizen.

2. I commit myself to lead an ecologically sound life.

3. I commit myself to lead a life of creative simplicity and share my personal wealth with the world’s poor.

4. I commit myself to join with others in reshaping institutions in order to bring about a more just global society in which each person has full access to the needed resources for their physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth.

5. I commit myself to occupational accountability, and in so doing I will seek to avoid the creation of products which cause harm to others.

6. I affirm the gift of my body, and commit myself to its proper nourishment and physical well-being.

7. I commit myself to examine continually my relations with others, and to attempt to relate honestly, morally, and lovingly to those around me.

8. I commit myself to personal renewal through prayer, meditation, and study.

9. I commit myself to responsible participation in a community of faith.

The world has changed a lot in many ways since I signed this, but things like income disparity, wasteful and downright hateful treatment of the planet, and First World maldevelopment and consumption are still around. Other voices of the time like John Denver have gone. It doesn’t really seem like this book did much to influence the world to “kick the habit” of consumerism and the hubris that lies at its root.

Still, I think the essential message of the book is the inestimable influence of the individual. When I score myself on the Pledge, I haven’t pushed through any legislation, won any pivotal grants, nor have I been responsible for innovation or reshaped institutions. But I do wear simple clothing, support local farmers and businesses, and spend time rereading this little book for that one more shiny nugget that I can put into service. And maybe that’s okay.