iPhone text debacle with Big bill elvis costumes

We were in Los Angeles, staying in the apartment of Mitra’s friend Josh. Aware of the prohibitive costs associated with use of our Swisscom mobile phone in California, we decided to acquire a native solution. We stopped at Starbucks on the way to the Culver City Verizon store. Nazy wanted a latte. (I had my Coke Zero.) There was one person in front of us.

“I want a Grande Mocha with gluten-free soy milk and non-allergenic cinnamon. Use the mountain grown Ethiopian beans. The last time I was here, someone tried to foist the Kenyan...”

We watched patiently..

“Patiently, Dan?” Nazy interjects.

Nazy watched patiently as the counter clerk and the coffee engineer collaboratively worked the complex apparatus. After extensive and lengthy ingredient coalescence, the greeter turned to Nazy.

“I’ll have a...”

“You forgot my honey stick!” The previous customer interrupted.

Honey stick?” I thought. “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” I mumbled.

“That will be $2.95,” the sales lady told Nazy.

Prepared (by buying dollars in Switzerland), I proffered a $100 bill.

“We don’t keep large bills sir. I’ll have to give you your change in ones and fives.”

$10 bill is large?” I asked. “Prices must be much lower than I’m used to,” I thought as I counted through 50 one dollar bills.

We continued to Verizon where we each selected an iPhone and tried to understand the various plans. Then we attempted to pay...

“Of course we take checks - with proper identification.”

“Great. We have passports.”

“Passport? No, I need a driver’s license.”

I pulled out my Swiss license and..

“That’s not from California.”

“And we’re not in Kansas,” I replied.

“We only accept licenses from US states. And the address on your check is, eh, strange.”


“You have little dots on top of the u.”

Zürich,” I thought.

Bank of America, our local bank, wouldn’t authorize the check over the phone because of anti-terrorism concerns. We could get a debit card (in five days) if we went in person to a BoA branch office.

“Do you take cash?” I asked.

“Cash?! I think so.”

They accepted cash, but they didn’t have change. After several hours, we walked away with new phones. We drove directly to BoA and ...

“... your account is very messed up, The account number is non-standard..”

“That’s because opened the account at Dartmouth National Bank that was bought by Scrimshaw Bank, acquired by Fleet that was gobbled up by...”

“Scrimshaw?” Nazy whispered.

We were enjoying our phones until I tried to send a text message to Switzerland. The message didn’t arrive. (I know because I sent it to
my Swiss phone.) Worse, Verizon did not tell me that the message wasn’t transmitted. Messages from Europe appeared to be delivered. At this point (and belatedly) I remembered that Melika (Verizion) could not send SMS messages to Europe while Mitra (AT&T) could. I called the Verizon help desk while we were driving to Santa Barbara.

“You need the international plan,” the scrivener claimed.

“Are you telling me that this technical problem is caused by a billing anomaly?” I asked.

“Just listen to what he says,” Nazy interrupted. “I’m sure this will solve the problem.”

It didn’t. And a subsequent call with the technical help(less)desk was equally unproductive.

“I need a complete list of the European service providers where SMS does not work,” the scribe demanded. “And your date of birth and social security number. Use the GPS feature on your mobile phone to give us latitude and longitude. Did you notice abnormal solar activity?”



Melika and Tom

We decided to return the Verizon phones.

“And we want our money back.” I said pleasantly.

“Of course. We will send a check within the next 6-8 weeks.”

“I paid cash. I’d prefer cash. In fact, I demand cash.”

“We usually don’t keep cash at the store, but we may have some if you come back
right before closing.”

Switching to AT&T took several hours, but it appears that we have a fully functional service. Of course our work wasn’t done: we still had to deal with Verizon. I called them r
ight before closing. They were still cashless. So...

“You shouldn’t come,” the voice claimed.

“Are you the manager?”


“Go to the bank and get money. We are coming.”

Now possessing (functional) telephones, we began to look for a car and a place to live. Melika and Tom were extremely busy with work and social events.

“We’re going to the firm’s Christmas Party tonight,” Melika explained on the phone. “It’s a costume party.”

“Costumes, eh,” I replied. “Have you decided...”

“We don’t have time to shop. We will just have to choose something we have at home.”

My polka dot pants are on a ship,” I thought. Tom and Melika, however, just happened to have something “appropriate”.

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