A day and a half after our arrival, I presented myself at the local GTE cellular outlet (long since bought by Verizon) run by some outside contractor. The sign on the building said “Cellular Image”.
I didn’t want to think too long about what that meant. And it was clear the person who came up with the name hadn’t thought too long about it either.
Even though it was quarter past the 9AM opening time, the place was so empty it echoed. A female geek emerged from a back room.
“She’s not here yet.”
Who was “she?” I didn’t know. But, it didn’t seem relevant.
“Is she actually coming?” I inquired.
“I just talked to her, she’s on her way,” the geekess said. She turned and returned to the back room.
I sat in a plush leather chair and looked around. Lots of space, elegantly appointed, only a few phones. I saw an application for service, so I took the initiative and filled it out.
Ten minutes later “she” walked in, hacking and sneezing.
“I’m not feeling very well,” she shared.
“Did you take some vitamin C?” I inquired solicitously. This time, I was going to start off on the right foot.
Showing her my Tampa Qualcomm phone, I told her I wanted an identical one with a San Jose number and handed her the completed application. Easy enough.
Still coughing, she dialed up some mysterious center where they would approve my application. After a brief discussion in low tones, during which I caught the phrase “currently a GTE customer in Tampa” she turned to me:
“Your social security number is invalid.”
Seriously? How could that be? I wondered if that meant I would never receive benefits. If in fact there WERE benefits. And if I lived that long.
I just stared at her.
“Well, is this your social security number?”
I checked the application, then looked up and nodded. She looked me up and down. Then I looked at myself through her eyes.
I had, of course, packed a couple boxes in Tampa called “first-out”. They contained towels, sheets, soap, shampoo—all the things needed for personal hygiene those first few days, while we unloaded the U-Haul.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t found those boxes yet.
They obviously had been “first-in”.
Nor had I opened any of the 10 wardrobes that held my large collection of clothes, many that I hadn’t worn in years.
So, I hadn’t showered, wore no makeup, had pulled my too-long hair back into a loose pony tail, and was wearing the same scruffy sweatshirt and jeans I’d had on for two days.
Clearly, I looked like someone who would steal a social security number. Even though I did speak fluent English.
I envisioned myself cuffed and fingerprinted. And all the criminal lawyers I knew were in Tampa. Securities lawyers, the only kind I knew in Silicon Valley, weren’t going to be a big help here.
She fiddled with the keyboard. Finally, she looked up.
“It cleared. This happens all the time.”
A few minutes later I left, with two identical cell phones in hand. One said SAN JOSE when I turned it on.
At home, I found Bob emptying the truck, carrying box after box in the house. When I realized I could hardly move in my office for the boxes, I called for a time out.
“Bob, dear,” I said sweetly. “The truck is emptying nicely, but there is no room to move in the house. In order to empty boxes and arrange things in my office, I need some space!”
“But they all say ‘office’, he responded. “That’s where they go!”
It took everything I had not to take a big fat red magic marker and cross out “office” and write GARAGE.
I understood, of course. Bob’s objective was to empty the truck. He would deal with the rest of it later. MY objective, however, was to get my office in somewhat usable shape, as I would begin work on Monday.
Ah, marriage. You gotta love it.
Unpacking the boxes turned out to be more exciting than I’d ever thought it could be.
Bob is a very organized and meticulous guy, the exact opposite of me. Well, I’m organized, but in my own way.
Anyway, I’ve moved a lot, and my usual routine is to number the box, list its key contents on top, and label it with a destination room. The identical information is then recorded in a small reference notebook, so I am able to easily find all my important belongings. Clever, right?
Bob hadn’t moved a lot, (and I suspected his wives managed his moves, even though he denied it) but he managed our move with great enthusiasm.
Early on, his boxes read: “Office” “Kitchen” “BR” “Rochester Treasures”.
Later in the packing process, they all simply read “Misc.”
As I said, exciting to unpack. But, unpack I did.
Stay tuned for more.
Looking for the earlier chapters?