Country Mouse

Country Mouse. That’s me.

How ironic that I have just been fiddling about with a translation discussing globalisation.

Nevertheless, once a country mouse, always a country mouse.

Town mice will find this lack of sophistication mildly amusing, and somewhat puzzling. What town mice won’t realise is that for country mice, almost everything is an adventure.

This tale has to with my mundane attempt to get a smartphone.

This week I decided that instead of fretting that I was missing some great job opportunities by not being able to access and reply to e-mails sent by various translation agencies whilst “getting supplies” or doing chores in the next town, I should get with the programme and get a smartphone.

I set out on my adventure on Wednesday after lunch. After duly checking the oil and water in my aged automobile, I tootled off, glad to be on the open road, perspiring freely without air conditioning as nature intended.

I arrived in the next town and successfully negotiated my way into a parking space close to the shop emblazoned with the logo of my cellphone network. The door of the shop is closed.  The truth is that I so seldom come “to town”, that I forget the peculiarity to my mind anyway, that lunch breaks here for the more traditionally-minded last from 13:00 to 15:00.  I have arrived 20 minutes early.

It is then that I notice there is an optician, with open doors, about fifty metres away. My spectacles have been sorely in need of replacing for far longer than I care to admit. The bank balance reducer in my head which works on mental arithmetic tells me that I am, remarkably, in the felicitous position of probably being able to afford a new pair of specs and a smartphone.

I enter the optician. After a few general enquiries, I am surprised and delighted that not only are my calculations pretty accurate, I can also have an eye test right away as the first step to getting my prescription specs. I have fun choosing a frame, which takes less than three minutes. I betray my country mouse origins by expressing my delight that the specs will probably be ready on Saturday. I am thinking “three weeks”; the optician says, “three days”.

Well, blow me down. I get an e-mail on Friday morning to say that my specs are ready for collection. I whizz through my work and by late afternoon my new specs on are my nose, as I secretly marvel at the efficacy of a debit card.

I have still not purchased a smartphone, but have been ogling at pictures on the Internet for the last two days and making funny faces at the tech specs pages. I head off to the next town (bigger, with a real shopping mall) since my cellphone provider in this town did not have stock of my desired model on the Wednesday.

In true country mouse fashion, I have made sure that this trip is not an extravagant waste of time. I collect my partner’s monthly medical prescription from the hospital. I manage, finally, to purchase some new underwear (not as long overdue as the specs were, you will be pleased to know). Having completed the transaction, I ask the bra-lady a question. In response, she tells me that the shop I am looking for – which sells all types of exciting multimedia stuff – closed down its branch two years ago. I smile, thank her, and cheerfully say something to the effect that one can tell I do not get out much.

While regrouping, I treat myself to an icecream, and am met by bemusement on the part of the city-slicker teen serving me when I say I would like plain vanilla, even though it costs the same as something with two toppings on. He is lucky I did not ask for a real spoon.

Having fortified myself with dairy products and some people-watching, I locate my cellphone service provider’s huge hole in a neon wall. I look at the smartphones on offer. I think to myself that it would be nice if someone would serve me.  Then I notice the touch-screen info-spot seamlessly blending with the wall décor. I am glad I took more than my fair share of paper serviettes during my icecream interlude because my hands are clean. I play with the touch screen and leave it so far from the main menu that someone may have to reboot the jolly thing.

I then notice that one of four sales people is free. I approach her.  In a motion akin to panic she explains to me that I should take a ticket from another seamless panel in the wall and wait my turn. My turn is up even before the germs from the info touch-screen have landed on the thermal paper of the ticket.

My allotted sales person is pleasant, and smiles knowingly when I issue a warning that I am about to ask some stupid questions. She deals with me remarkably well, I think. I have now decided what phone I want and what “plan” suits me. Seeing as I do not plan to send or receive more than 6,482 e-mails per month via my phone, the most economical option will do me fine. She assures me that all synchronisation of my phone with my e-mail account can happen right here in the shop.

Then she asks me if I know my e-mail address. I reply in the affirmative but cannot think for the life of me why I would not. I wonder if I should bore her with the anecdote about Albert Einstein being incapable of remembering his own telephone number, making it necessary for him to carry a small piece of paper in his jacket pocket with the mystery number written thereon.  I decide against it.

I decide against it because she asks me for my SIM card. I have a capacious handbag, useful in the days when I had to carry around a great big bilingual dictionary with me. Today its contents are rather more disparate. I think that my cellphone is lurking somewhere in its depths, but it is not.

Instead, I pull out my cordless mouse, and show her its exposed underbelly by reason of the battery cover having broken a couple of months ago (illustrated below). I explain that I also need a new mouse and that when I left home, I must have picked up the mouse thinking it was my cellphone. The sales assistant stifles a giggle, but manages a polite smile.


After further frantic scrabbling, it becomes apparent that my cellphone will not materialise. I thank the young woman, express my intention to return next week – or, if my phone is perchance in my car, within a few minutes, because, “clearly, I need help”.  At this point she cannot contain herself any longer and flagrantly disregards whatever training she must have received: she guffaws, followed by uncontrollable diaphragmatic movement, and sharp intakes of breath.

I laugh with her, and wave a cheerful goodbye.

I shall not tell you how annoyed the people in the supermarket queue were with me after my smartphone adventure. Why were they annoyed? Because I did not weigh and self-price my lettuce prior to arriving at the till, despite bilingual signs hanging all over the place.

It simply is not my fault that I do not normally shop in such a huge place or that – country mouse that I am – I normally either pick lettuce or buy it by the head.


The word in bold appeared in the previous post.

9 thoughts on “Country Mouse

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  1. This is just too brilliant Alison, it has had me laughing out loud all the way through. I recognise a lot of myself in this. It’s taken me a year and a half to learn how to use my phone almost propertly, now they tell me I can have a new one for free. Not a chance, I can’t go through another long learning process until this one stops working.


    1. Thanks, Sheila for confirming my feelings. The superstitious side to my nature says that I should wait a little longer before plunging into either Blackberry or Android confusion; after all, my efforts have been blocked twice. There has to be an important reason for this phenomenon.


  2. Oh, lol, Allison, I’ve got a Nokia with which I can take photos, but for the life of me have no knowledge on how to send them to others……even Marianne can do that, but I think Malcolm set it up for her ! Perhaps I should ask Malcolm how it works next time I see him……….


  3. Better a country mouse than a rat. After all if you win the rat-race, you are still a rat. I am assuming you still do not have a smartphone. I have to confess to having had to go back to the store after having acquired my smartphone, (it is definitely smarter than me), and I needed instructions in order to answer then jolly thing…..


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