My ex-husband lives a few hours away. He rents a small room behind a house in a not great part of town. When COVID hit, he got sick and lost his job. His car broke down around the same time. Because California’s unemployment system is so archaic, it took about six months for him to get any funds. And of course, that was after the federal stimulus ended.
When you don’t have a cash flow, you have to make choices as to what to prioritize. He prioritized his cell phone, and decided to use the hot spot as his wifi for his laptop.
Last week, my oldest daughter, with whom he shared a phone plan, decided to get her own phone plan. She transferred her phone number to the new service and let the previous provider know that she no longer needed their services.
Instead of cutting off her phone, they cut off his.
Of course, none of us knew this.
So when his children could no longer contact him, and his friend had also not heard from him in days, we all assumed the worst.
Today I called the cops to do a wellness check. When they called me an hour later, I was expecting them to ask me to come ID a body.
Instead, it was my ex, explaining that his phone was disconnected and he wasn’t sure how he was going to get to the phone company’s office to get it resolved. Remember, he has no car. And no phone.
That means no directory to look up the nearest phone company location. No Uber or Lyft to take you there. No internet to check email to see if there’s a message about the mix up.
After he told me he was alive, we hung up. (Can’t really have a long conversation on a police officer’s cell phone!) I called my daughter and explained the situation.
She called the phone company and explained what they did wrong. They restored his phone line. Only issue was that we had to somehow tell him that he needed to reboot his phone for it to work again.
The cop was long gone.
My daughter had the great idea to send him something via Amazon with a note to reboot his phone. However, that would still be a day or two of waiting for the delivery to arrive and hoping he saw the little gift receipt note.
So I went to Domino’s pizza online and placed an order. The pizza that was our favorite when we dated almost 30 years ago. And I wrote in the delivery notes that I needed them to write a note on the box to reboot his phone.
A modern carrier pigeon.. haha
But it made me realize just how much our world becomes a prison cell without access. No phone, no internet, no connection to the world.
How many of our students are in similar situations? And how are we bridging that divide? Do we need to start sending pizza boxes with lessons written on them?
Why doesn’t the federal eRate program include home internet costs? Why are we still, as a nation, treating internet access as a privilege instead of a necessity? Although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since feminine hygiene products are still charged a value-added, or sales, tax, unlike the tax exemption status granted to other products considered basic necessities.
I’m grateful to Domino’s for helping me out today, but as a country, we have to do better than this. Our families deserve it.