Sunday, January 18, 2004

Ms. Frizzle on the MTA

Friday morning, I forgot to wear my watch, so as I was waiting for my train, I reached my gloved hand into the pocket of my bag and pulled out my cell phone to check the time. It all happened in an instant: the cellphone slipped from my fingers and onto the tracks of the number 4 express train. Less than a minute later, my train pulled in. I had no choice but to board, but I could see the front, back, and battery lying, un-squished, on the tracks below.

In the afternoon, I returned to the same station: Yes, my phone was still there, still in three complete and re-assemble-able pieces. I told my story to a lady in the booth. All she heard was "this morning" and started yelling at me, "Why didn't you report it this morning!!!" I could not convince her that the phone was not lost or stolen, it was still there, could someone please help me get it? She sent me to the police station. The police officer, of course, sent me back to the booth. I went to a different booth. The man there very nicely sent me to a third booth, closer to the Site of Cellphone Loss. The man in that booth was also very nice, made a phone call, and informed me that I needed to go down to the platform, stand near the phone, and wait for two men in vests to come help me. I had learned the secret of getting my problem solved: state the problem very simply and clearly. You might think that I'd know this from teaching, but I forget that it applies to adults, too. I was no longer mentioning that the phone had been on the tracks all day. "My phone is on the tracks - please help!" That got results.

About an hour later, as I sat mournfully on the bench, rubbing my toes to keep frostbite from setting in, two good-natured trackworkers walked by, peering over the edge of the platform with a flashlight. "I think you're here to help me!" I said. I showed them the phone, they took their picker-upper tool and grabbed the pieces for me. They were really helpful and not at all grumpy about spending their Friday afternoon rescuing my cellphone. They were a little grumpy that their boss had sent them downtown from the Bronx, but they weren't blaming me for that!

I did not put the phone back together in front of them, and it's a good thing, 'cause it didn't work. Not giving up hope, I went home and charged it. Still nothing, although it beeped when I plugged in the charger, so I took that as a sign. The next morning, still not working. I got the feeling, though, that the problem was with the power button - it just didn't feel right. "I think I need to drop it again!" I told my boyfriend. "Is that a good idea?"

"Go for it..."

I dropped it on the floor.

I picked it up.

I put the three pieces back together.

I pressed the power button.

It's been working ever since.

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