The soul-crushing agony of number portability

Cell number portability is a beautiful thing, right? (Not really, according to the truly Kafkaesque experience I’m going through right now, which I’ll go into in a moment.) This chirpy page at the FCC lays the number porting process out in a checklist with lots of Pollyanna-ish assurances:

Contact Your New Carrier — Do Not Cancel Existing Service! Your preferred new carrier will handle all the details, and they have every incentive to make this process as easy as possible. Be sure not to call and terminate your existing service-let the new carrier handle the transfer.
. . .
Use your phone during the transition. You will be able to send and receive calls while your number is being transferred, but be aware that certain features may not work

Visuals are the key to making a point, so without further ado, two photos from my number portability experience: 1) my old phone, which I call “The Phone that Can Receive Calls” (on the left), and 2) the new phone, aka “The Phone that Can Make Calls” (on the right).


For those of you thinking ahead, yes, if you call my cell number, the phone on the left (“The Phone that Can Receive Calls”) rings. If I miss your call and need to call you back, I have to use the one on the right (“The Phone that Can Make Calls”).

“The Phone that Can Make Calls” can not successfully call “The Phone that Can Receive Calls” (Busy signal. I suspect — and hope — that a computer is crashing somewhere each time I do this).

I am afraid that the checking of voice mail might initiate a chain reaction that could destroy the human race itself, so please, send e-mail for now.

I was enjoying the absurdity of my two-phone situation when “The Phone that Can Receive Calls” rang with a strange number in the caller ID, so I answered, thinking it might be my provider checking on me (true story: once my cable modem connection died several years ago and I looked over at my friend on the couch and said, “hey, the cable modem connection is down,” and — no lie — within seconds, there was a knock at the door, and a smiling @Home technician greeted me with, “Good afternoon, sir, is your cable modem connection down?” I said, “yes” and he fixed it. This will give you faith in people.) It was a telemarketer (a telemarketer! on my cell phone!) telling me that a ticket to Acapulco had been reserved JUST FOR ME.

So, as I was listening to the spiel about Mexican beaches on “The Phone that Can Receive Calls,” I stared longingly at “The Phone that Can Make Calls” and couldn’t resist saying this:

“I’m gonna have to call you back.” Heh heh.

(Hopefully this will work itself out soon. . . Cingular seems to be having serious problems.)