Oh, to Provide a Signature from Here

2015-05-26-Circe-Denyer-hand-signing-nameThe apartment complex wanted my son to have a guarantor. They just needed the guarantor to come in and sign a paper.

We have signed as guarantors before, but this time we happen to live on the other side of the world instead of Texas.

I heard about it in the evening. As soon as I got up the next morning, I gave the apartment complex a call, to make sure I reached them before they closed for their work day. (We deal with time warp all the time when communicating with the States.) Cell phones in this village usually do not connect to a tower under tin roofs, so I went outside and started walking. Zero bars…one bar. Possible, but it could cause problems. I took a few more steps. Two bars. Yes!

I punched out the full number with country code and area code. Five rings…seven rings…c’mon! A voice answered. “Thank you for calling _____ Apartments. We are busy taking care of other customers. To leave a message, press 1…”

Argh! Computerized Answering Service! The bane of American communication strikes!

I didn’t hear any options I wanted and pressed 0. That has always got me through to an operator before. The same voice said, “Thank you for calling _____ Apartments. We are busy taking care of other customers…” Of all mornings, I didn’t have time for Computerized Answering Service. I was about to go in and out of cell phone range in the jungle for the next eight days or so, and didn’t know when I could use my cell phone again.

I hung up and tried again. This time I got a real person. Yes! She explained why the apartments needed a guarantor, and they sounded reasonable enough. I said we were willing to be a guarantor, but I was calling from overseas.

That made her pause.

“We have email. We have a satellite dish for that. Can you work with email?”

“Yes.” The voice brightened. Surprised, but pleased.

“We’re in the jungle and won’t have access to a scanner or fax for the next five weeks. I have a scanned signature, though. Can you work with that?”

Another pause. “Yes, we can work with that.”

“Okay. Here’s my email address–”

“Hold on. I need to find a pen.”

I heard a rustle of papers. Then an advertisement for the apartment complex started. I’d been put on hold.


Then my call dropped.

It’s enough to make a good missionary struggle to hold his tongue.

I called the same number, but the cell phone provider wouldn’t connect.

I shifted my body and turned slightly. Sometimes that works. I called again. It connected. A man answered. I explained I was working with a woman. “She’s working with a customer,” he said.

“I don’t have a lot of time,” I said. That sounded so strange. I was looking at coconut trees and huts built on stilts. Jungle birds called out and roosters crowed. Time is fluid here. Not having time is a foreign concept. But it triggered the appropriate response from the American on the other end of the line. He took my email address. Success!

I hung up and finished packing my small backpack. My Papua New Guinean guide was late. Time is fluid here. I have plenty of time. So I sit here typing out the story while I wait. Maybe, just maybe, I can get it checked and posted before I leave.

Nope. The internet connection is still out. That’s not normal, but it does happen. I’ll have to post this when I get back.

Photo: Circe Denyer. Public Domain.

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2 Responses

  1. Wally Schram says:

    Steve & Debbie: I love technology about as much as can throw it!!

    Sue and I have things around the house that no longer work well, human error or manufacturers deficiencies. But the frustrations with what used to be called car phones, because they were wired right into the cars and could not be accessed without the car being turned ON??!! We in the past had banked on areas that you would get “blown off the air” at a certain spot in our travels but mostly near our home in the country when we hit the dirt road. A recent episode of Battle Creek, which is the newest cop show about a FBI agent who gets punished by sending him to Battle Creek Michigan. His center drawer on his desk shows his temper with 25 or more cell phones broken in pieces after he destroys another one because he cannot convince a subordinate to do the right thing. I feel his and your PAIN!!
    Blessings on you guys, Wally

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