What Does Unlimited Mean?

A few months ago, I visited the phone store, and a young man suggested that I buy an “unlimited data package.” It was a few dollars more, but I figured that I would never run out. I’m on the Internet a lot, publishing blogs, researching stuff, and marketing my books. It sounded like a bargain to me, UNLIMITED. How much better could it be?


Clearly, they were just kidding.


My phone was acting ditsy, and I thought it needed a tune-up, so visited a phone store. It was located at a different site from the other one, but the signs were the same and had a bunch of young men and women, none of whom looked old enough to drive. A woman with a gatekeeper tag reading Manager took my name and asked what I wanted, and I very clearly stated the problem, “My phone is broken. I can’t get the Internet.” She nodded, as if she understood, but did she really? She never looked me in the eye.


The other phone store customers could have been characters in my Wrinkly Bits series, gray headed with a lot of loose skin, white tennis shoes, obviously over the age of seventy, a clone of yours truly. Their questions were like mine and they succinctly asked their questions. The lady behind me had a simple question, “How do I turn the phone off without losing my daughter’s phone number?”


The gatekeeper looked heavenward before closing her eyes, as if thinking, deliver me from seventy-year-old women. “Don’t worry, it’s in the cloud,” gatekeeper answered.

The woman looked toward the ceiling, too, but didn’t seem reassured. “If I turn my phone off, where does the cloud go?”


The gatekeeper closed her notebook and said, “You are fifth in line, have a seat.”


Finally, it was my turn. My young representative was tall, but his voice hadn’t changed yet, and he squeaked, “The problem is you need a bigger data package.” I counted that he carried four cell phones, two in his hip pockets and two more protruding from the man-bag he had slung across his chest. I crossed my fingers, hoping he wouldn’t tell me that I needed three more phones.


I knew that my package was unlimited, but maybe he didn’t, “Young man, I already have an unlimited data package, check my account.”


He frowned and checked one of his cell phones, then looked at a second and smiled, “Yes, ma’am, but you only have the basic unlimited package. You need to have a larger unlimited package.” He showed me a sign outlining four levels of unlimited packages. Now, I wasn’t born yesterday, but do know that the word unlimited means inexhaustible or infinite, so you can’t have a larger unlimited. It’s an oxymoron.

Have you ever tried to explain something logically to a tech-minded person who doesn’t look you in the eye? Don’t try, because he said, “Our unlimited packages come in three sizes. More unlimited. Bigger unlimited. And grossly over-priced unlimited.’” (I made up the words grossly overpriced unlimited part, but you get the idea.) I opted for the grossly overpriced plan and wonder how soon it will expire. What I really want to know is if the term “unlimited” can be altered, why can’t the definition of “limit” also be expanded, as in speed limits? Doesn’t that sound like fun?


Gail’s Wrinkly Bits blog book Bits of Time are available only from Gail Cushman Books, Box 905, Columbus, MT 59019 for $15, plus $3.00 shipping and handling. Order Bits of Time by December 14 for Christmas delivery.


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