I recently traveled with my husband to Cancun, Mexico for a little February R & R. As soon as we landed my phone lit up with a helpful message from AT&T. “Welcome to Mexico. Your texting fee will be $___per text, and your phone calls will be $___ per minute.” I felt secure in the knowledge that my connection to the USA was intact, although I didn’t anticipate needing to use my phone.
One hour later, when we were happily settled in our hotel room, I took a photo of our beautiful view of the Caribbean to send to our girls, texting, “We made it to Mexico!” I waited for their excited replies. Nothing. An hour later, I glanced at my phone. Red bold print screamed “Not Delivered!” I clicked on the exclamation mark, which helpfully offered to “Send as Text Message.” I clicked on that and waited another few minutes. Nothing. Hmm. This was a little disconcerting. Maybe there’s poor reception in the hotel room. I stepped out onto my balcony and sent again. Nothing. Then that red text again, “Not Delivered!” Ok. I’ll try again when we go to dinner, I thought. Later, at the restaurant a few miles down the road from the hotel, I peeked at my phone and hit the “Try Again” button. A few minutes later, I checked the screen only to again find the dreaded red phrase, “Not Delivered!” Alright already. Geez, stop mocking me. We enjoyed our dinner, although I remarked to my husband that it seemed weird not being able to let our kids know we’d safely arrived in another country. We’d had to go through customs, for heaven’s sake. “I doubt they’re worried about us,” Hubby offered, helpfully. I couldn’t shake the slight discomfort I felt.
The next morning I awoke to my phone’s tri-tone texting signal. “Doodl-ie-doo!” I sat up, remembered where I was, then reached for my phone on the bedside table. It was all a blur until I found my readers, but I felt fairly certain that I could see a new text on the screen. “Hey! Did y’all make it okay? I hope you’re not in a Mexican prison.” Our eldest had reached out and made contact. I felt so relieved and quickly texted back, “YES! We are here. Bad cell service, but it’s beautiful!” I watched the screen expectantly, only to be met with “Not Delivered!” Ok. Really? I wished whoever was typing would stop placing an exclamation point at the end of the unhelpful phrase. It reminded me of “Jeb!” And we know how that turned out. Another Doodle-ie-doo. “I’m worried. I haven’t heard from you Mom. Please text back and let me know you’re ok.” Fast as lightning I wrote, “YES. We are fine. Thanks for checking. Bad service but all is well.” Instantly, almost cheerfully, the message”Not Delivered!” appeared again. I wasted no time getting out of bed and dressing. “I’ll be downstairs,” I told my husband who was peacefully sleeping through all the phone drama. I approached the front desk with my serious business-like face. “Buenos Dias, Señora! Como esta?” Oh I’m just bueno, I answered. WHY CAN’T I SEND A TEXT? I practically yelled. The nice gentleman at the desk replied, “Well, it just depends on your provider. Did you let them know you’d be out of the country?” I thought about this a minute then answered, “No. I just crossed the border to Mexico from San Antonio. Is that a problem?” He looked bemused and wrinkled his forehead. “Maybe they want you to purchase an international plan,” he offered, helpfully. I wasn’t about to purchase “an international plan.” Are you kidding me? For just a few days in Mexico? Ha! How silly! I came up with a new plan. I’d just email my daughters and ease their minds about our wellbeing. “What is your wi-fi password,” I asked smugly. “Oh our internet’s not very good,” my helpful deskman replied, smiling conspiratorially at his coworkers. WHY WON’T YOU LET ME SPEAK TO MY CHILDREN, I wanted to scream. Instead, I calmly turned away and headed back to my room. I know! I’ll call them, I thought, feeling super-smart. I put my finger on my daughter’s name in my phone and the next thing I knew, I heard it ringing. “Oh hi,” my eldest answered, “What’s up?” “Hi! We’re here. In Mexico,” I said, relieved and revived. “Oh good. I thought it was weird that I hadn’t heard from you or gotten a photo or something.” I spoke quickly and plainly, “We have spotty phone service so I can’t text you. But I’m getting your texts so be sure and keep ’em coming! I’ll call you if there’s an emergency. Oh, and let your sisters know,” I instructed. It was amazing the relief I felt as I hung up.
My husband and I enjoyed a relaxing day on the beach. I tried not to look at my phone too often but, that afternoon I thought I heard a text come in. Sure enough. “Hey. Do you mind if I use your credit card for a manicure?” Then, a couple of hours later another one wrote, “Hola. Hope y’all are having fun. Can I invite some friends to dinner and charge it to the card?” Next, “Hi Mom. I just found some super cute shorts for spring break. Can I put them on your card? Just text if not ok.” I felt as if my hands were tied behind my back. “NO. NO. NO.” I repeatedly texted. “Not Delivered!” the evil phone god typed. I turned the thing off and threw it to the bottom of my suitcase where I couldn’t hear it for the next four days. Free at last, thank God almighty. Free at last.