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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Mykel's African Trip Part 3: Before I leave

Chapter 3, One week before 

So, I'm sicker than any dog I've known. Sick dogs complain that they're sick as a Mykel.

Coughing continually, unable to keep food down. The doctor says it's excess stomach acid, prescribes x-rays and an acid reducer. They thin my wallet, but do nothing for the sickness. I'm afraid I'm going to have to live/die with it. Excuse me while I cough up breakfast....

For the past week, I was so sick I couldn't even put on my boots ...padded through the time with sneakers. I barely had the effort to work on my revamped computer... uses Linux... found it in the garbage and put on the new system. That's the one I'll take with me. I should get some practice. But I can hardly open it... I'm so sick.

On top of that, I lost my cellphone, tore my apartment up looking for it... went through hell with T-mobile to order a new one. More expense and a hugely frustrating time dealing with T-mobile's automatic operator. In fact, the experience was so aggravating, it gave me the energy to put on my boots and take a walk... to work out the anger.

Putting on my boots... I find the cellphone... in the right boot. It's hell to cancel the phone and more evil happens with awful UPS. In the meantime, my most secure contact in Senegal... the cousin of my French teacher, and former baby-sitter of one of my best friends and neighbors... has decided she hates me because I'm an egocentric American for not asking her about her family's safety when I sent my I'M COMING form letter to my African contacts.

Add that to my continued sickness, my phone trouble, my tension headaches. And here we are... well not quite. After I find my phone and cancel the replacement, chasing... then waiting for... a UPS driver... with a full bladder (Mine! I don't know the condition of the UPS driver's bladder.)

I race back home and... the just-found cellphone falls into the toilet.


I write this just came back from the bathroom where I started to puke up tonight's great dinner... Senegalese restaurant... A few too many white people for my taste... but the food was great... too much... but great!

I do seem to be keeping more of it down than I did with the bar food on Thursday. Maybe my NASAL IRRIGATION is working. Recommended by Marshall, one of my co-teachers, it's a can of salt water you squirt into you nose. Flushes it out and cleans the sinuses... exactly as disgusting as it sounds... but it may be helping.

In any case, I have another appointment with the doctor on Monday. His prescription for an acid reducer is NOT helping, and who knows what the side effects are.

Ok, so I fish the cellphone out of the toilet. I do not put it in a bed of rice, but instead take the battery out, dry it it and the phone with a rag, turn the oven on WARM, and stick the phone on the rack.

While the phone is baking I return to the computer I found in the garbage. I type this blog... at least an earlier version of it. Then I connect to the internet. FLASH!!! NEW UBUNTU LINUX VERSION AVAILABLE, comes the notice from cyberspace. DOWNLOAD NOW?

[NOTE: Do people still say cyberspace? I haven't heard it for years. I liked the term. I thought it was the cat's pajamas!]

I figure I should be up-to-date for my trip so I click on the YES button. The notice changes. DOWNLOAD IN PROGRESS. APROX 11 HRS 43 MINUTES TO FINISH.

Nothing else on the computer works... only the flashing DOWNLOAD IN PROGRESS sign. I wash the dishes and empty the wastebaskets. They're all filled with tissues and nasty remains of the times I didn't make it to the bathroom.

I let the phone bake for a quarter hour, put the battery back in and turn it on. It flashes, then the screen turns blue. Not a pure blue, but a cloudy blue, blue-back... nothing else.

What now? I just sent the other phone back to T-Mobile. Who knows if they'll actually get it, much less credit my account when they do? The UPS guy is probably pissed off at me. I expect he's already put the package under the wheels of the truck, run it over, and left it in the gutter.

There is a T-mobile store on Broadway, about half a dozen blocks north of here. They'll probably have the same deals as T-Mobile on the phone, right? Yeah, right.

I run to the store. Tell them... not the whole story... it's too ridiculous...

I just say, “I dropped my cellphone in the toilet. I need to get a new one. I don't want a smartphone. I want a dumbphone. The dumbest phone you've got.”

The woman behind the cash register, in her seventh month, I'd guess, is not amused. She is so not amused that that one nostril curls upwards. If she were a doberman, I'd be out the door.

“The cheapest (italics hers, not mine) phone we have is this Samsung model. It costs $79.90.”

“If I extend my contract,” I ask, “can I have it cheaper?”

“It'd be $39.90 then,” she says.

“Can I keep my old contract price with the cheap plan?” I ask.

“You will have exactly the same contract,” she says, “just two years more and a new phone for forty dollars.”

“Is that my only choice?” I ask.

She shrugs. “You can always get a smartphone.”

Ok, ok, I can't travel in 2012 without a cellphone. Mine is kaput so I have no choice. I sign all the papers, the hostile pregnant lady copies my SIMS card to the new phone and gives it to me.

I go home and call my new cellphone from my wired phone to make sure it works. The new phone does not ring. The old phone... the one I dropped into the toilet... however... does. It's fixed and working perfectly. I pack up the new cellphone and race back to the T-Mobile store.

“Can I have your receipt and the new contract?” asks the same pregnant lady who gave me the phone. I open my wallet to take out the receipt. It is not in there. I empty the wallet... look through all the compartments... break the zipper on the wallet... condoms (older than some of these blog readers, I'm afraid) spill out onto the T-Mobile counter.

No receipt.

“I'm sorry,” I tell her. I was just in here. You helped me I'm sure you remember. Can't you find the receipt in your computer?” I beg. “I don't know what I did with it.”

She looks at me... pouts out her lips in that way mothers do to show their displeasure. Maybe she's practicing.

“All right,” she says, still without a hint of a smile, “I'll accept it this time. But there will be no next time!”

“Thank you!” I say, amazed at her compassion.

“You can return the phone and we'll cancel the contract,” she says. “But there will be a $25.90 restocking fee.”

I start coughing. Not a little throat clearing cough, but a deep lung-to-stomach gagging cough. A coffin-rattling cough. A cough to end all coughs. Après ma toux, le déluge. No, avec ma toux, le déluge. If I puke on the pregnant lady, I'll never get out of there.

“Are you all right?” she doesn't ask.

“You nearly killed me,” I don't answer.

I manage to recover enough to nod my head. Nod at everything. Return? Nod. Restocking fee? Nod. Can I have the credit card you used for your purchase? Nod.

The pregnant lady puts her hands on her hips.

Oh yeah, I have to do something. I fish the credit card out of my wallet and hand it to her. She does something, prints out something, I sign it. She takes the phone and I walk out of the store, back home, stopping every half block or so to spit up phlegm or a portion of the chicken sandwich I had for lunch.
People walking the other way cross the street when I come too close.

Back home, I still have 7 hours before my computer finishes loading the update. I work on my French verbs. Je mange. Tu manges Il/elle/on mange, Nous mangons... no it's mangeons, Vous mangez, Ils,elles mangent. Je mangeais, tu mangeais, il/elle/on mangeait, nous mangeons, vous mangiez, ils/elles mangeaient

I go to the gym. Take a shower. Do that thing that boys do to pass the time when waiting for something else. Have a slice of pizza. Cough it up. It's HOURS. I make an appointment to see the doctor again. Do that thing again. Finally it's time.

My computer says DOWNLOAD AND INSTILLATION COMPLETE PLEASE RESTART YOUR COMPUTER. I click on the restart button. The computer shuts down, starts up again, there is a small white line in the corner of the black screen. That's it. NOTHING ELSE. I press the off button, start it again. Same error. Same nothing. I rarely cry, but this is one of those times.


But first... THIS JUST IN!

Note: this is episode 3 of Mykel's Africa trip. The adventures of Mykel's Africa trip begin here.

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