Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Broken Phones and Broken Names

If this had happened four years ago, my blog may have been called 'Broken Phone'...

  When I travelled to Jackson, Minnesota three weeks ago to play in the Jackson Open, I lost more than a game and my chance to have my name inscribed on the Flores Cup; I also lost my cell phone. I don’t know whether I left it in the hotel room on Friday night or during one of my many naps but it didn’t turn up after the tournament organizer looked for it at the playing site or at the hotel so I needed to get a new phone.

  The only times I use my cell phone is when I’m letting Kathy know I’m running late, emergencies, and a weekly phone call to my brother in New Jersey while on the hour long drive home from work. I had a Virgin Mobile plan that cost 18 cents a minute for many years but I recently discovered a plan that allowed me 400 minutes a month for $20 and switched to it since I was spending a little more than $30 a month on the per minute plan.

  The $20 a month plan worked well but when I went to the Wal-Mart to get a new cell phone two weeks ago they didn’t have a Virgin Mobile phone for me to buy that didn’t come with a contract so I got a $15 Verizon phone. The Verizon phone had 3 different plans: $50 a month with unlimited voice and data, $35 a month with limited voice and data, and a plan that cost $2 a day BUT only on the days the phone was used.

  Since I’m only sure of using the phone once a week when I talk to my brother, I opted for the plan that costs me $2 a day when I use the phone. I’m sure Verizon Wireless is thinking that I’ll be one of those people that THINK they’re going to save a bundle but end up using their phone $40 to $50 dollars’ worth every month but in my case they’re wrong. I had the phone for two weeks and only used it to call my brother twice. I received a few calls on my phone but there was no one I considered it worth $2 to talk to so I just let the phone ring and returned the calls when I got home. This plan worked great until I dropped the phone and cracked the cheap plastic cover on the cheap plasma display on the outside of my cheap $15 Verizon phone.

  With the cracked display I had to open the phone when it rang in order to see what number was calling. The Friday night before last the phone rang and when I opened the phone to see who was calling it picked up and there was $2 down the drain. I found myself talking to a chess acquaintance that wanted me to head to Des Moines the next day to help him with a chess tournament he had put together. Since I had inadvertently spent two dollars by answering the phone and had already arranged to spend the Saturday helping Lee Gordon Seebach set up his new blog (you can read it here!) I spent a lot of time on the phone going over the ins and outs of running a tournament. Once I finished the phone call, I figured out how to get my cell phone’s voice mail from another phone and now when my phone rings I just leave it alone and check my voicemail afterwards.

  I was initially upset at cracking the cover of my phone after only two weeks, but now I see it as a blessing in disguise. Before I broke the phone, I had to make a decision on every phone call to decide if the person was worth the $2 to talk to. Now that decision is out of my hands since I’m not going to answer any calls. I’ll keep more of my friends also since as word of my new phone plan got out they were bound to find out that I didn’t consider them worth $2 to talk to (Don’t take it personal – I wouldn’t pay $2 to talk to me either). My new cell phone number is 641-481-1189 in case you want to call. If I don’t pick up please don’t get insulted – I can’t even tell who’s calling without spending $2 and if I do pick up don’t get too flattered – I may have already used the phone on someone who was worth $2 to talk to that day.

  I almost spent $2 to use my phone to call the suicide prevention hotline when I saw this story about Janice Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele (her last name came from her husband and that was his only name). Her 36 character last name wouldn’t fit on her Hawaiian identification card or driver’s license. The Hawaiian cards only allow 34 characters for a name and her cards had no first name and the first 35 characters of her last name. When she was pulled over by a policeman and had to explain why her name wasn’t on her identification, she was told that she maybe she could have her maiden name (Worth) placed on her driver’s license. She became incensed and took her complaint about not having her full name in her identification to the local TV station. The TV station publicized the situation and the Hawaiian Department of Transportation has caved in to the public pressure and decided to change the design of the driver’s license so that by the end of the year the new character limits will be 40 characters for the first and last name and 35 characters for the middle name.

  Janice K (I will use the ‘Jay Z’ form of her name) said "I love the Polynesian culture I married into, I love my Hawaiian name. It is an honor and has been quite a journey to carry the names I carry”. As someone whose last name was cut off from its full Russian name at the “s” when the clerk at Ellis Island got tired of writing my grandfather’s last name down, I can sympathize with Janice’s (using the ‘LeBron’ form of her name) plight and I have no problem with her lobbying to have her full name on her identification cards. A lot of the comments on the articles about JK’s (the ‘JFK’ form of her name) were hammering her with questions about how she signed her name on checks and credit card receipts, but my issue is with the Hawaiian authorities spending the money to change their driver’s license just to accommodate her long name and only leaving 40 characters for it. Since all licenses have numbers to identify themselves and most are bar coded, it would have been far easier to place a ‘Name Too Long’ indicator on the license and let the officer scan it or call it in to get the full name. The way the Hawaiian government has chosen to solve their problem leaves open the possibility of Janice K remarrying Greek soccer player Sokratis Papastathopoulos and then deciding to hyphenate her name to be Janice Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele-Papastathopoulos! What will the Hawaiian authorities do then!? I know what they will do – they will pray that their marriage lasts till the end of her life and that she doesn’t get divorced and marry the Polish soccer player Jakub Blaszczykowski and then need a license to that reads Janice Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele-Papastathopoulos-Blaszczykowski!

  By the way, JK’s friends call her ‘Loke’!