Monday, January 15, 2007


Liars, cheats and jerks, they are. After muddling along with one of those Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go phones (or, "ghetto phones," as my friend Jess calls them), I had decided to buy "real" cell phone plan last night. A one-hour and 13 minute conversation with the aforementioned friend might have inspired my re-thinking the whole pay-by-the-minute idea.

I pored over the Consumer Reports ratings and checked each provider's web site comparing prices and plans. Sprint won out. Although its service is rated lower than Verizon's and T-Mobile and Alltel and actually every company Consumer Reports surveyed, its basic plan was only $29.99 and its night minutes begin at 7 p.m., which was a big plus.

I picked out my phone. It had more features than I'd ever use. I started the checkout process, during which you go through and choose all the add-on services you want. Nope. Didn't want any. Then I saw the 7 p.m. night minutes option so prominently featured on the Sprint web site was one of the extras! It costs $5 a month! Un-phoning-believable. Actually not. No wonder Sprint has such a terrible rating for customer service. If they'll try to rip you off before you even become a customer, there's no telling the screwing you'll get once you're in a contract with them.

Sprint is eliminated. I don't know what the next step is. In the meantime, I'm still happy to talk to you. Just understand why I'm talking so quickly.

Estimated repair costs on my soon-to-be-deceased Nissan: $3,679. That exceeds the value of the car. The estimator didn't know the price Allstate puts on a 1998 Sentra but his computer knew it was less than 36-hundred bucks. No one answered the phone at my adjuster's office. I'll learn tomorrow how much I'll get for what's left of the car and how long I have to replace it, measured in terms of how long I get to keep the rental.

The timing is important because I liquidated some mutual funds but the check won't arrive for as long as two weeks. I'm not sure liquidated is technically accurate but it seems fitting because it sounds so much like liquified, which is quite accurate metaphorically as I picture a small pile of my hard-saved money going down the drain. I had go go a ways to make that connection but it works, trust me. Speaking of stretching, that smashed pile of crap that used to be my car might have to pretend to be one for a while longer.

See, I'm allergic to financing. I do not like owing people money. I even paid cash for my townhouse. That means I can't buy a new car until the I get the mutual fund money. The mutual fund company sends the check the day after they receive the request. Very prompt, yes. Except I made the request Friday, which means they don't send until Monday but -- Oh, yummy! -- this Monday is a holiday so it goes out Tuesday, after which I'm told it could take 7-10 business days to arrive. Ten business days equals two weeks real time.

That means I better buy some rope to tie the hood down to the chassis. And then buy some more rope to hold the chassis together. Let's hope the new "crash fashioned" front-end ventilation openings will compensate for the fact that not much of the radiator is left. I'm sure only two or three of the original four cylinders still work so that's gotta help keep the heat down.

Let me pause for a moment to pass along a little wisdom from the road here. Car hoods might seem heavy when you slam them on your fingers but they're no match for a headwind at highway speeds. This I learned as I tried to nurse my car home the day of the accident. I had not even completely pulled onto I-75 when I heard a bang and saw black. The hood had flipped up, open, and all the way back onto the windshield, which amazingly did not crack.

I planned for the Sentra to last a couple more years. That way its retirement would coincide with my mid-life crisis. Now I feel like a golfer "in between clubs." The 8-iron might leave me short of the green but the 7-iron could put me in the woods behind the hole. I still have enough of my hair and my erectile function that I don't need my car to compensate for them. But if I buy a Toyota Corolla now there's a chance I could begin feeling inadequate long before it's time to replace the car. That would be a mid-car crisis. It would stunt my development to middle age, I think, and that wouldn't be healthy.

If I opt to begin my mid-life crisis early, a new Mazda Miata will cost about $25K, which also happens to be the true monthly cost of a Sprint cell phone plan. I could buy used but the 2007 has a convertible hard top, which previous model years don't. Of course.

1 comment:

Gwen said...

Keep us updated on the phone provider search, as I'm considering changing but don't know which company to change to. Now that I'll be in the Pacific time zone, if my evenings only start at 9, I'll never be able to talk to anyone on the east coast (or really even central time) except on weekends.