Ilivetolearn's Blog

May 18, 2007

things I have put through the wash

Filed under: laundry,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 12:42 pm

Having el lavadero (laundry room) coterminous with la cocina (kitchen) is convenient in some ways and a pain in others. Often in my rush to get piles of dirty clothes out of the work triangle before meal prep, I fail to check pockets (admittedly I wasn’t too good at it even when I had a whole room devoted to laundry). Bill’s watch is a casualty of this system, and the other day Elliot and I heard a clunking in the canister and extracted drenched jeans with my dripping cell phone in the pocket. He immediately dismantled it, removing the undamaged memory card and putting it into a new instrument while its previous home dried out. Presto! A working phone, with the same number, the same people programmed in. When the original had recovered, he reinserted the card. It worked for a few days, but then started emitting strange blue flashes and refusing to take a charge.

But other than getting used to a slightly different keypad configuration (and having to tell Bill what time it is more often), I haven’t suffered. The cell phone system here in Spain, and in Europe as a whole, is so far superior and consumer-oriented than in the US I am really dreading going back and being at the mercy of the demented descendants of Ma Bell. Here you buy a phone (for a reasonable price) and then blithely make calls (for a reasonable price) or send text messages (half the price of calls) until your account balance is low, at which point you “recharge” with however many euros you wish. This can be done at any bank machine, your home computer, many store cash registers. No two-year contracts. No minimums, maximums, hidden charges, packages of features you don’t want, smarmy salespeople calling you with offers. I love it.

Spaniards know a good thing when they see it. In a country of just over 42 million people, there are 46 million cell phones (some of them freshly laundered). The only way companies in the US could achieve this degree of market penetration would be to actually pay attention to what customers want.

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