I was at the mall over the weekend (I don't get out much, so the mall was a big deal), and I spotted a Cingular store. I had seen the commercials for Sprint, where the insurance guy has his Sprint Wireless gizmo that slides into the slot on the side of his laptop, and voilá, he has speedy access to the internet. It looked like exactly what my mom and I could use on our RV trip around the country. So I had asked about it at the Sprint booth in Costco, but they required a 2-year cell phone contract with Sprint in addition to the internet contract, and I've got Cingular cell phones.
No deal. I won't go back to Sprint, because their coverage map was a big fat lie when I had their cell phone a few years ago. They said they had coverage along the I-5 through Camp Pendleton, but when I got a flat, I had to limp into the Rest Area and use a pay phone, because I could never get coverage for the 20 miles of Camp Pendleton which was part of my commute. But my then-work's oncall cell phone with AT&T Wireless always had coverage there, so I switched from Sprint to AT&T (since bought out by Cingular). The Sprint guy at Costco assured me their coverage area is much improved, but how can I trust him?
At the Cingular store in the mall, they had a similar internet-laptop program, and just like Sprint, they require a 2-year contract. We're really only going to need it for the year we're on the road, but I can use it on the train between now and this summer, when we leave. So I signed up.
When I tried using it at home, after I loaded the software and followed all the instructions, it gave me an error. But since my house is in an almost-dead zone for the cell phone (I can get some bars when I'm in the master bedroom almost against the back wall of the house), I figured my problem could be related to the low signal.
I brought my laptop and gizmo on the train with me this morning and got the same error. So I called Cingular's 611, and they sent me to someone else, who sent me to another number, where someone started to help me, until the train went behind a cliff and the call was dropped. Post-cliff, I tried the last number again, and it turned out that the guy who sold me the internet gizmo never activated the service. So the lady activated it, and Google came up, and it was a beautiful thing! And a big part of the beautiful thing was that I spent about forty minutes on the phone with customer service, and I didn't use up any of my workday or my time at home.
I'm telling you, life is good. I'm starting to get that warm, fuzzy feeling about our trip. If I sign up for some online classes, like Medical Terminology, I should be able to log on and do the work. I'll be able to blog. I'll be able to read the news. I'll be able to email my kids.
There's still a whole lot more to do, though, before we're ready to go.