Betsy Robinson, author of funny literary stories about flawed people, is a perpetual seeker of truth.

From books to music to theater and fine art, from online TV to DVDs, this blog takes a look at current culture through a spiritual perspective — with a touch of humor.

Materials under the "review" tag are a mix of free review copies (books, DVDs, etc.) in exchange for a review, to library copies, to materials and tickets I've paid for.


A Really Bad Hair Day (Feb. 13 blog)

The Art of Collapsing (Feb. 6 blog)

Life is only temporary says Evan Handler (Jan. 28 blog)

The New World of Finance (Jan. 28 blog)

All about growing up in a cult (April 16 blog)

Fierce Giving (Jan. 8 blog)

(Copyright © 2008-2014 Betsy Robinson. All rights reserved)

Notes from a Crusty Seeker

magicJack and Happy-Go-Lucky

January 4, 2009

Tags: Cost Cutting, fun, review

“Do you have some kind of really cheap service where I can pay for incoming calls only?” I queried the friendly Verizon customer service woman after holding for a quarter of an hour. She seemed perplexed and said there was no such option, and had I not found my exorbitantly expensive unlimited plan, plus 3-way calling, unuseful? (All right, she didn’t phrase it exactly that way.)

Because I felt as if she was really interested, I explained that I’d been downsized out of a job being the hub of a virtual office, and I no longer required such services, plus which, I’d now purchased a magicJack at my local Radio Shack.

“Oh. What’s magicJack?” she inquired.

Feeling as if I was about to downsize her, I kindly explained that Verizon was most likely about to lose a ton of business because magicJack is a new little gadget you stick in your computer, and for the cost of it ($40+tax) and $20 a year, you can have unlimited calling all over the country, plus voicemail and caller ID.

There was a pause, then she put me on hold to research my cheapest Verizon option; I’d asked for Basic Budget which is no longer listed on the Verizon website. It was a very long time until she returned, during which I’m guessing she’d initiated a frantic huddle — wherever Verizon customer servers huddle. During this huddle, I wager they'd debated their options, worried about this impending monster called magicJack and what it might mean to their futures, and generally got their headsets in a tangle.

Finally the Verizon lady returned and gave me a new service plan at an amount well below what I’d been paying, and we closed the deal.

Here’s what’s good about magicJack:

• It’s cheap. You get to talk everywhere for however long you want for $20.

• You can see who’s calling, and voicemail emails are sent so you know when you have messages.

• As of right now, it’s a separate phone number, which is really good if you want a line you can turn off when want to forget about where your next paycheck is coming from.

Here’s what’s bad:

• Sometimes your connection cuts off.

• Sometimes your connection sounds like there’s a breathy, possibly drunken person with a vibrato on the other end.

• If you want your magicJack phone on, your computer has to be on, running down your battery and heating things up if you have a monster laptop like my HP Pavilion zd8000.

• Now I have three phones and three phone numbers: one for incoming calls, a cell for outgoing calls when my computer’s off, and my magicJack phone.

I do miss my Verizon service, but last night I saw the movie Happy-Go-Lucky with my friend Ardith who is also going through some hard times. Happy-Go-Lucky is the story of Poppy (played brilliantly by Sally Hawkins), a woman who deals with nastiness and losses with a determined, perhaps enlightened, optimism. When somebody steals her bike, she is of course shocked. But she goes through the grief process in a fraction of a second, and then laughingly but forlornly quips to the blank space where her bike used to be, “I never had a chance to say good-bye.”

That seems a good mantra for many things these days — my downsized job, my disappeared colleagues, my Verizon phone service.


  1. January 5, 2009 4:34 PM EST
    I'm getting a magicJack, AND I'm calling Verizon ... right now ...
    - Monika
  2. January 5, 2009 5:17 PM EST
    Hi, Betsy,
    I had kind of an epiphany when I read about magicjack. It was that, in this strange time in our world, when things are coming apart and breaking down, all kinds of other new things and possibilities are springing up. Like magicjack! And in the midst of all the recent talk about the dilemma of how and whether to save the big three car companies, I thought to myself: Those companies are history, because there will be lean, new, innovative companies with completely new technologies that will be our future.
    Thanks also for sharing about the movie. I had been wondering about it and wavering, but now I definitely will see it. Thanks for the nudge.
    I hope you find something wonderful soon! God bless you!
    - David Evans
  3. January 6, 2009 8:16 AM EST
    Thanks so much, David. I love your insights, and I'll accept all the blessings I can get!
    - Betsy

Selected Works

Big Moose Prize-winning novel
a funny, sometimes sad, story of negotiating life without a clue

New on Kindle--a funny book for foodies who are committed to self-change through self-awareness
an epistolary memoir ... sort of
A funny and moving little book for anyone who's had a mother or struggled with being human.
anthology of stories and plays
includes Darleen Dances and stories below

1-act play

short story
the problem with worrying about the future

true story
Why I don't believe in death.

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