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So my neighbor is pregnant. Big as a house as the saying goes. It's a minor miracle that she is even pregnant, as she is a cancer survivor and was told she'd never have children. Her husband works out of town during the week and I volunteered to make the hospital run if she went into labor while he was away.

That's when the troubles began. Maybe my drill sergeant was right. Never volunteer for anything.

Anyhow, I have a prepaid cell phone from T-Mobile that is kept in the car in case of emergency. It is a really good deal. For T-Mobile, that is, not for the customer. You're supposed to plop ten bucks worth of minutes onto the phone every three months. If you don't use the minutes, you lose the ten bucks. So I let the minutes lapse about six months ago, figuring I could buy more minutes if necessary.

The minutes are now necessary. As mentioned above, I voluteered to take my pregnant neighbor to the hospital. Naturally, I logged into my T-Mobile account to purchase ten bucks worth of minutes so she could call when the baby was on its way. Let me restate that: I tried to log in but couldn't. About an hour later, after waiting patiently for a chat session with a helpful customer service rep, I learned that my account was terminated because I hadn't kept throwing away ten buck every three months. And also, my phone is useless, because there's no way to reactivate it, pregnant neighbor notwithstanding. I can just hear the customer service rep mouthing "Sucker!" to the rep in the next cubicle.

Meanwhile, my neighbor's husband, a very nice fellow who works in construction, can't find work in the Tucson area so he works on a jobsite in Ajo, which is about two hours away. He stays there during the week and comes home on weekends. Anybody who claims that people aren't doing everything they can to find and hold a job and generate income is full of crap. Just ask my neighbor how far he's willing to go to provide for his wife and soon-to-be family.

However, his being away during the week is all well and good if the baby simply cooperates by selecting Saturday or Sunday for its world entry date. Monday through Friday, it's up to me, and as the estimated delivery date is rapidly approaching, I decide to head out to the store for a new cellphone. Since T-Mobile is on my poop list, I'm thinking anyone but them.

It's about nine a.m. when my landline rings. My neighbor is calling. She thinks she needs to go to the hospital. And then her water broke. And now she's sure she needs to go. Another two minutes and I'd have been out the door, foraging for a new flip phone, and she'd have been bouncing around in the back of an ambulance. By the way, neither ambulances or circumcisions are covered by her husband's medical plan, but that's another story altogether.

So we're on the way to the hospital. She's gasping in pain every few minutes. If I'd kept track of how many, I could tell you how far apart the contractions were. Forty minutes to the hospital divided by five contractions equals eight minutes, or something like that. Of course, I wasn't keeping track. I was scared poopless that baby was gonna pop out while I was driving.

But we made it there, and it was actually a few more hours before she gave birth to a healthy seven-and-a-half pound baby boy. Fortunately, her husband got off work early and was there before delivery. Unfotunately, there's a recession on and he goes back to work in two days. There's no such thing as paternity leave in modern America. Jobs are too scarce.

It seems that in today's world, companies hold all the cards.

Companies like T-Mobile. God, I hate that company. I think I'm going out in the yard now to bash my flipphone into little plastic pieces with a rock. They say that releasing your feelings is a good thing, and I like good things.

Originally posted to edg on Thu Dec 02, 2010 at 04:36 PM PST.

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