This is how it went down.
I sat in my car, waiting for my nine-year-old son to finish his after-school play rehearsal.
"Thanks for calling Verizon. My name's Vicki. How can I help you?"
"Hi, Vicki. My family's traveling outside the country over Spring Break and I'm wondering if I have international access on my cell phone?"
"I'll be happy to check that out for you. Can you please confirm your personal information?"
I'm so on top of this, I think, crossing off yet another item on my endless pre-Spring Break to-do list:
Sunscreen Bug spray Extra dog food for house sitter Stop newspapers Goggles Passports Tell bank we'll be out of country Confirm international dialing feature for cell phone
Half the fun of vacations is in the anticipation -- and this trip could very well top them all. This year, we're ditching our wonderful spring break tradition -- bunking with gaggles of friends in sunny rental properties -- to travel for once as a standalone family unit ...to the British Virgin Islands.
We'd honeymooned in nearby St. John (way back before I became a frequent user of coverups, reading glasses, Facebook and probiotics). Why not have one last howlin' Wolf hurrah near the place where it all started? After twenty-one years of marriage, two graduate degrees, a law degree and three kids, we realized our days of traveling as a family-of-five are numbered...
Mike and I lost sleep considering the financial investment of a BVI vacation, realizing it might be the nicest trip of our lives. We talked about the memories we'd create, just the five of us together for an entire week. With college visits looming for our oldest (a high school freshman), family vacations plans will surely splinter. Plus, our youngest is finally capable of dragging his own suitcase through airports and ferry terminals. We booked the trip.
"Yes, Ms. Wolf, you're all set for international dialing."
"Okay. Thanks. What's the rate for calls?"
"Hmmm...let's see," Miss Verizon says. "From the BVI's to the U.S., it's $1.99 per minute."
"Two dollars? A minute?!" Clearly I'll only be dialing in case of a hurricane or a hemorrhage. "And how much is it to text?"
"Fifty cents to send a text...five cents to receive."
Now, this is where she could have said, "Ms. Wolf, I notice you have two additional users on this account, both with incredibly high text usage and unlimited texting packages. Would you like to suspend those accounts while you travel since the roaming charges and projected texting will surely eat away at any college savings you may or may not have saved?" Instead, she says, "We appreciate your business, Ms. Wolf. Have I answered all your questions today?"
"You know," I say, quickly multiplying seven days times two teenagers times fifty cents per text, "can I limit my kids' lines so they can text just a few select people?"
Picture Miss Verizon scrunching her nose at her monitor and mouthing the words, Damn! I ALMOST had her... "I'm sorry, Ms. Wolf, but unfortunately, texting is all or nothing. It's either on or off."
And so, I did what no mother in her right mind does unless she's without options:
I blocked my teens' phones for a solid week, beginning this Friday. No calls. No texts. No wireless access.
Can my teens survive Spring Break without their mobile devices?
God help us all.