Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

It's a laughing matter

The Data Overlord

Series: Its a laughing matter | Story 2

February 26, 2020


The Data Overlord wants you to connect to the nearest available network.

It's been a long time since my friend Sadie and I have connected. When I was writing this column on a regular basis, Sadie and I would often talk about kids, husbands, work, and dealing with the ups and downs of life. But kids grow up, and husbands retire and decide to dedicate their lives to fixing the house, sometimes where "fixing" isn't really needed.

Like a lot of people "our age," both of us have been lucky enough to be able to travel. It was the subject of travel that made us realize that a familial-juxtaposition had occurred.

Sadie and her husband Sam had been doing a lot of foreign travel. And as such things necessitate, that required a long distance, foreign travel plan from their cell phone carrier.

Gone are the backpacking days where all you need is enough change to connect with an operator to make a collect call home. Or, worse yet, needing money for a postcard and a stamp.

As the saying goes, there's an app for that, but to have the app work, you need a cell connection; and therein lies the rub. That rub has to do with the cell phone family plan.

To help their kids out, Sadie and Sam agreed to go in with them for a cell phone family plan. Rates would go down for all and life would be good. With their MBA child managing the account, it was one thing off of Sadie's plate.

When planning their latest overseas trip, Sadie found their cell phone carrier offered a travel plan for $10-a-day including unlimited data for maps, restaurant reviews and texts and emails. That would also save postcard and stamp money.

Of course, with WIFI, there's no problem. If there's no WIFI, a cell tower is needed. And for every 24 hours you use a cell tower, you're charged another $10. Not bad in Sadie's opinion. But as she found out, the fruit of her loins, now known as the Data Overlord, felt otherwise.

Yes, the kid who had no problems saying, "What's wrong with buying $150 Air Jordan's?", was now monitoring the overseas cell usage. The phone company's text reminder that a new $10/24-hour period was starting, not only goes to Sadie, but it also went to the Data Overlord.

So instead of receiving family-friendly and loving "I miss you" texts, Sadie started receiving something very different.

Day 1:

Data Overlord – Hey Mom, remember to use the WIFI. It's free.

Sadie – Hey back. There is no WIFI. I'm in the middle of nowhere and lucky to get any signal.

Day 2:

D.O. – Mom, one word, WIFI. Do you remember how to connect? I can send you a link to remind you how to do it. Just get to a place that has WIFI

Sadie – Yes, I know how to connect to WIFI, if WIFI existed here, I'd use it.

Day 3:

D.O. – Mom, we could have avoided this whole mess if you'd listened to me and bought a new SIM card that works almost everywhere in the world.

Sadie – I told you before I left, that would require a new phone number and since half my friends and your uncle can't remember this number half the time, all they would do is block my calls.

Day 4:

D.O. – This is going to cost a &^%ing fortune.

Sadie – That's OK. I put away the money that those &^%$ing shoes would have cost so, with daily compounding of interest, we should have enough to cover the charges.


After they returned, Sadie took an unscientific poll of her friends to find out what they thought of the $10-a-day plan. Not to her surprise, all thought it was a great deal. After all, paper maps are hard to find and you can quickly lose count of how many roundabouts you've gone through, especially if you're in a country that drives on the opposite side of the road.

I'm happy to report that all has been settled. Sadie paid her debt with the interest earned from the shoe savings account. There's even enough left over to start planning another trip.

But she knows that she'll probably have another set of conversations about her cell phone usage. Because to a child of the 21st century any place without WIFI is a place that shouldn't exist.

Just save some money for those postcards and stamps.


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