Day 157 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1725 Hiked yesterday: 15 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 459
First, due to some "tech" issues, some of our readers who "opted out" of receiving email updates, might start receiving them again. If so, I truly apologize; please email me that you'd like to be removed from that mailing and I'll be glad to do so.
Second, Thank you for all the Haagen Dazs suggestions. When I shared them with Chipmunk she said, "OK, but I do really like Ben & Jerry's Phish Food. And I really haven't done anything that would make them owe me anything. I'm just hiking." Well said, Chipmunk.
I made her the usual breakfast of "goat"meal by the light above the stove, letting her squeeze in the last few zzzz's before I turned on the overhead light. When the coffee and oatmeal were ready, I woke both Papa Chip and Chipmunk. Soon, Chocolate Chip poked her head out from beneath the covers, too. We all set about doing our morning routines, shuffling around each other in this tiny space which has been home for the last 5 months. I almost don't recall what life at our real home was like before we started off on this wild adventure. There was no time for reminiscing. Chipmunk had a 15 mike hiking day ahead of her and we've been trying to get her on the trail at first light since daylight hours are dwindling.
He watched her disappear into the woods, parked Greg's bikes near his truck and then walked back down the road to meet me. By the time he arrived, I had everything secured in the camper and Chocolate Chip and I were ready to go. Papa Chip started the truck and we drove the winding gravel and dirt roads back to civilization, in search of a place to get wifi.
As we drove along, our phones dinged, alerting us of messages. One message was from AT&T's central warehousing. It alerted me that my new phone had been sent out and was delivered to the Rutland AT&T store at 12:47 pm the day before. Then my phone alerted me that I had a voicemail. Ahhhh... that had to be the Rutland store calling to let me know my phone had arrived. I played the message and was actually surprised that it was not the AT&T store but a good friend. At my age, it still amazes me that I think other people (AT&T store clerks) are going to follow thru on their promises (to call me as soon as my phone arrived). I'm a strange mix of eternal optimism and luckily, the ability to quickly let go most of "the little stuff".
I opted for a short stack of blueberry pancakes with a side of sausage; Papa Chip had Buttermilk pancakes and sausage. It was what I needed in the moment: a guaranteed good experience WITH yummy food, too! Thank you, Sugar & Spice. It's an expense I probably shouldn't have added to our dwindling budget, but it's definitely more affordable than traditional therapy.
After breakfast and refueling (yesterday's trailhead search ate up some fuel!), we headed into the AT&T store. I took a deep breath and hoped I'd be dealing with a competent customer service rep. I quickly learned I was wrong.
I went through their usual routine: gave my name and "issue" to a rep who typed it into an iPad. Then, I stood back and watched reps mill around, chatting with one another and a few clients. Finally, one of the two chatters looked at his computer screen and called my name. I approached and he said, "What's your phone issue today?" Hmmmm, I guess that iPad didn't transfer my "issue" to his screen ... soooo ... I told the whole story again, ending with, "and I'm here to pick up my new phone."
He typed several things into his computer and asked, "Um, did anyone call you to tell you it was here?" I said, "No, but it's here." He stared at his screen and finally said, "I"ll check, but usually we call a client when it arrives." I asked if he knew who "A. Rock" was and he said, "Why?" Then I showed him the message on my phone email showing that "A. Rock" signed for the phone delivery yesterday at 12:47 pm. Then, he said, "Hmm. Maybe it is here."
He went thru a door and when he returned he opened a box, while asking for my old phone. He reassembled the old battery and phone back to my phone and asked if I'd like to have all of my stored information transferred. I said I did. After a few minutes, he handed me my phone and told me I'd have to sign in to my email accounts, etc. and then I'd be "good to go." I did so and then I stood there checking out the new phone. I opened my contacts list, which is complex. It looked like all of my contacts transferred so I thought I'd quickly try to send out the email version of the day's blog to some of our readers who prefer to receive it that way. I clicked on my "groups" in contacts and quickly discovered that ALL of my groups are missing.
I asked the rep if that information would update soon and he said, "Uh, no. Contacts transfer but 'groups' do not. You'll have to update that info yourself." I asked if I could borrow a battery so that I could have both the old and new phones on at the same time to make updating my contacts easier. He said, "Oh, we don't do that." I twisted my face into the Olympic gymnast's "unimpressed" expression and nodded. I said, "O.K., any more surprises? Is there any other missing information that I'll need to re-enter?" He said, "Nope. That's it. Everything stored on your phone has transferred. Now, just take this box for mailing your old phone back."
As I checked through the rest of my stored items, I noticed that my downloads were gone. Chipmunk occasionally texts me pics from the trail that I download, email to myself and then post on the blog. When I returned to the same rep's counter and told him that, he said, "Oh yeah, well downloads wouldn't transfer, of course. They're downloads." I looked at him puzzled and said ... "O.K., one last time, is there any other information that I had stored on my phone that didn't transfer; that I'll have to manually re-enter." He smiled condescendingly and said, "No. I assure you that everything stored on your phone has transferred." Now, I stood with my head down as I scanned through the most important things on my phone.
When I got to my calendar and found that it was BLANK, I looked up and said, "All of my appointments and reminders are gone. Where are they?" He looked at me puzzled, took my phone and scanned through my calendar. After a few minutes, he turned to another rep and asked why the calendar didn't transfer. I was well within earshot and heard the other rep say, "Oh I don't know. I don't think calendars transfer." My rep then handed the phone to me and said, "Yeah. Doesn't look like that transferred."
Papa Chip looked at me and then said, "We need to see a manager." A gentleman introduced himself and asked, "What's your AT&T issue today?" I rattled off all that had transpired thus far, including the fact that a rep said they don't answer their phone, followed later by "call us", to being promised a phone call when my phone arrived and not receiving said call, to the series of "Everything transferred" comments followed by, "Oh, no that didn't transfer" repeatedly comments. Then I told him that when I make mistakes I pay for them. Then I stared at him while he smiled blankly at me.
I said, "You need to make this right. I've been an AT&T customer for over 5 years and this situation has had me driving all kinds of extra miles to compensate for your staff's incompetence and lack of customer service." He said, "How much do you think you spent to solve this problem." I turned to Papa Chip who did some quick head math and said, "Probably, $60." The manager said, "OK. I'll credit your account for $60. Is that good? Would that make the situation right?" I said, "That's a good start." He did that, handed me a receipt, I thanked him and promptly left. I was a bit saddened that the attitude was that "money fixes everything" not that there was a problem with the way that handled the situation. (TO OUR READERS: DOES ANYONE HAVE AN AFFORDABLE AND RELIABLE CELL PHONE/SMART PHONE SERVICE THAT WORKS WELL? AND IS BACKED BY GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE? Let me know.) With the $60 credit, I felt a little less guilty about the pancake breakfast.
When we parked at the trailhead, we soon saw two southbound thru hikers, trail named, "Sasquatch" and "Slingshot". I'd like to say I remember which name belonged to which hiker, but I don't.
We chatted for a short time and then they resumed their hike. Papa Chip, Chocolate Chip and I hung out until Chipmunk arrived at the trailhead, after hollering down the trail when she saw the truck camper from the ridgeline.
She stashed her pack in the back of the truck and we piled into the camper for dinner and a DVD. We watched "Into Thin Air", the Jon Krakeauer account of a 1996 disaster on Mount Everest. Papa Chip and I read the book years ago, recently listened to an audio book by the author and then realized we had the DVD with us. It was hard to watch, knowing the story did not end well for 5 of the adventurers, 2 being seasoned and respected mountaineers and climbers.
As I fell asleep, I thought about the fact that although most of the climbers who pay upwards of $65,000 for one attempt on Everest, can not buy their way out of the potential tragedy of that pursuit. The statistics are staggering: 1 in 4 of those who summit Everest will lose their lives. There are no rescues possible at the summit itself. Being a Sherpa for Everest climbers is one of the most dangerous and life threatening jobs in the world.
Neither Papa Chip nor I have any desire to attempt to climb to Everest. And we truly hope that Chipmunk will not be lured to it. As we watched the movie, I saw how one of the climbers brought so many comforts from home (satellite computer, a tv, china tea set, etc) and seemed unbothered by encumbering a Sherpa with the additional load of stuff that put his life at greater risk. Our family may not have much money ... and I may complain about what my daughters both call "First World problems", but we do place more value on what's inside of us and others than what adorns the outside. I hope we've taught our children to see people (and themselves) for who they are; not to be enamored and blinded by the trappings of life.
I wanted to call my son, Brother Chip, and daughter, Editor, before going to sleep but we didn't have cell reception at the trailhead where we stayed the night. I was lucky enough to kiss one of my children good night and tell her how much I love her. Every mile that Chipmunk hikes North, also brings us closer to a trip South where I will get to hold Brother Chip and Editor in my arms and tell them just how wonderful they are and how much we have missed them. But for now, we continue North.
If you enjoy reading the story of our adventure, and you’d like to send some “Trail Magic” to Chipmunk, click on the “Donate” button at the upper right corner of today’s blog post. Chipmunk maintains a twitter account: @openlymtngoat where a common hashtag is #GoChipmunk . She (or we) will try to answer any questions you may have about her hike and this family adventure.
Thanks again for all your support,
Mama Chip, Papa Chip, Chipmunk and her dog, Chocolate Chip
(Tammy, Jay, Neva and Coco)