Family in Focus
iPhones, P.F. Chang's, and Tevas
By Brenda Evans
It started when Bill’s iPhone would not charge and fell to 10% battery power.
I called Apple’s 800-number because our town doesn’t have an Apple Store. Plus, I’m a little more tech savvy than Bill, which means that added together we’re about three-fourths illiterate about electronic devices.
My new friend Sheila at Apple said I’d have to drive 250 miles round trip for an appointment in Lexington, Kentucky (horse country and a lovely city). I must confess when she mentioned Lexington, I wasn’t thinking lovely, just that the day would be blown to bits, traveling 250 miles and spending unknown hours and money for a repair job on an iPhone that wasn’t even mine. Of course, the phone might be beyond repair, which meant I’d need to purchase Bill an iPhone 6 for who-knows-what price to replace his perfectly good iPhone 5 that just needed a new battery. I didn’t want to do that either.
But I still made the appointment: 10:40 on a Saturday morning, Kentucky Derby Day. Sounded good to me. Less traffic. Everybody would be in Louisville, not Lexington. Besides, I needed to do it for Bill, because he was busy making his new office bookcases for the house we were buying on the other side of town, (downsizing, relocating…all that stuff), and he wanted to spend all day Saturday sawing and planing his red oak.
Also, I just happened to notice while searching Google maps that P. F. Chang’s, with its amazing chicken lettuce wraps, was around the corner from the Apple Store (less than a 100 steps), Macy’s was a few hundred yards beyond Chang’s in the other direction, and DSW Shoe Warehouse was a mere five miles to the southeast. Our town didn’t have those places either. You get the drift.
Saturday morning, I made quick eggs and toast, not the usual Saturday breakfast works, and got to the Apple Store early, by 10:05. There were lines, two, in fact. One for customers waiting to get in, the other for the Apple tech crew, iPads in hand, ready to fix us. Amazingly, by 10:09, I was at a repair counter explaining Bill’s dilemma to Susie, my tech gal.
Susie aimed her small LED flashlight into the battery port, moaned “Hmm,” pulled out her paperclip pick and poked around in the port. Then she turned the phone upside down, tapped it lightly against the glass counter, and out fell a lint ball the size of a match head, three black coffee grounds (or that’s what they looked like), and another fleck or two of something. I knew where the lint came from: Bill’s left front jean pocket. The three coffee grounds were a mystery. After another paperclip pick and a diagnostic test to be certain the battery was okay, she plugged it in, and within a few seconds the battery percentage edged up to 11, then 12, and then 14. We were fixed, owed no money, and after a thank you, I was on my way. It was 10:15.
Chang’s opened at 11:00; I had checked. It was decision time. I could skip the lettuce wraps, return to my car, head east on I-64, and be home by 12:30. But I really wanted lettuce wraps, so I headed north to Macy’s…just to look. Look and you shall find: a snazzy black $39.50 top dappled with purple and white on sale for $19.75 and a $20 pair of dangly purple earrings for $7.50. Since it was Derby Saturday I received another 25% off. So at the register I spent only $21.67 counting taxes, and the checkout girl reminded me that I had saved $39.06 just for looking.
At 11:05, I was at Chang’s revolving door. I don’t like eating alone, but the chicken lettuce wraps, spring rolls, and pot of peach green tea were delicious! My bill was $17 plus tax and tip. At DSW, I found gold and gray snakeskin Teva™ sandals on clearance for under $50 dollars. By 2:00 p.m. I was heading home. I’d done okay. Bill’s iPhone repair hadn’t cost me a cent, and I’d otherwise gotten out of the lovely horse country city of Lexington for less than $100. Everything at a discount except the lettuce wraps!
I got home at 4:00 and told Bill my story of good fortune. He was glad it was only lint and no charge but mentioned in passing that it actually cost us almost $100 to get his phone fixed: “Babe, you wouldn’t have gone to Lexington or to Macy’s or Chang’s or DSW if it hadn’t been for my iPhone.” Later he also remembered gasoline, another $25-30 because our 2010 Buick LaCrosse only gets about 25-27 miles per gallon on the road and that day gasoline was $2.59 a gallon in northeast Kentucky. But Bill was in a good mood. The bookcases had gone well: sawed and planed to perfection. So he kept his blue accounting pen in his pocket and didn’t pick a fight.
But he could have. What I did in Lexington (besides getting his iPhone fixed for free) is exactly the kind of thing that regularly causes couples to fight over money. I left home intending only to go to the Apple Store…and maybe P. F. Chang’s, which I had told Bill was next door to the Apple Store.
He encouraged me to have chicken lettuce wraps while I was so close because who knows when we would be back in Lexington. Besides, he loves lettuce wraps, too. Perhaps I mentioned to him that I might go a little out of my way to see if DSW had a certain kind of cushiony Teva™ sandals that would help my bum hip not to hurt so bad. I don’t remember about that.
Bill rarely fusses at me about money, although he might frown or sulk a little at times. The truth is I easily could have started a quarrel if he had been interested in quarreling. He knows I could learn to like shopping and—no question about it—he is definitely a saver. We acknowledge we’re somewhat opposite in that. But ordinarily I don’t like to shop—never have, never will. It exhausted me when I was a young thing, and now that I’m not a young thing, it’s almost torture. But occasionally I feel well, and I’m enticed as I was on Kentucky Derby Day in Lexington.
I learned another important truth during the second year of our marriage. I cannot happily spend much money without our agreeing on it. I’ll omit the long version and just say this: it was 1963, the amount was a week’s salary, and by the time I finally quit my miserable sobbing and admitted how much I had spent, he was so relieved it wasn’t four times as much that he consoled me. He figured we both learned a lesson about money, and we had. It was a hard lesson I never forgot.
Marital disagreements over money is an important topic, a spiritual topic, and Bill and I have learned a little about it. There’s no space here to jump in, so we plan to come back to the topic in a few months. Maybe we’ll call it “How to Fight Over Money and Win.”
About the Writer: Brenda Evans is a freelance writer who lives in Ashland, Kentucky. Learn more at www.fwbgifts.org.