Why I will never be a T-Mobile customer again: a photo essay

There are few companies I don’t like: United, PEPCO, Chik-Fil-A and T-Mobile.

Why?

United = horrid customer service and stupid fees that change

PEPCO = heads up their collective big-money arses

Chik-fil-A = narrow-minded PR nightmare

T-Mobile = crappy phones, crappy fees and the most epic of all fails ever — no service.

During my cross-country road trip, I had the privilege of learning first hand just how terrible T-Mobile is.

At first, when I had no service, I credited it to the fact that I was driving, oh, through the middle of nowhere Nebraska

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En route from Nebraska to Illinois.

. Then, when I had no service in the cities, I started to get annoyed.

What’s worse? When I did have service, it wasn’t with T-Mobile so the data I was using was no longer unlimited. When I got a text message en route to Chicago that I had exceeded my data limit for the month, I nearly lost my marbles.

“You claim to have the largest 4G network in the world,” I said as calmly as I could to the customer service agent on the other end of the line. “How is it that throughout my entire road trip I have had little to no service and having to use another network’s internet? I’m driving across the country. What is the point of having a cell phone if you can’t use it?”

So, they did one thing right: they upped my data. Even the agent understood my need for being able to access the Web. “You can’t have no internet when you are driving across America.”

Right.

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When we were out and about on our dive bar tour in Nebraska

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Driving home from our night out in Omaha. Awesome.

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Driving from Nebraska to Illinois … no service, no internet.

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Thank you, T-Mobile. How am I supposed to have a GPS if I don’t have my internet service I PAY FOR EVERY MONTH?

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Downtown Chicago and no phone service??

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Loading and loading and loading and then an internet connection error. In Maryland. Notice I was on AT&T.

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At a friend’s house in Maryland. And, once again, no service.

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No internet connection. Maryland. At least I have fleeting bars to make a call.

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And more. The one good thing? In Thailand, I have DTAC and have not had services issues once. Even in the jungle.

The icing on the cake??

Wonderful T-Mobile slaps me with a $200 cancellation fee when I tell them I am leaving the country for an extended period of time.

My advice? Opt for another carrier, another phone, another anything … or take the risk and see how it goes. I promise you this: if you live in Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia or Maryland, you’re SOL for the most part.

Have you had similar issues with T-Mobile or another service?

 

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Omaha: somewhere (awesome) in Middle America

“Why are you going to Omaha?”

Nearly every person who I told about my road trip asked in the days leading up to the cross-country adventure.

It’s an easy answer, really: two of my closest friends who know me very well told me to go. That’s it. There was no research. There was no hemming or hawing. It was simple. They said “go.” I put it on the itinerary.

So, trusting them, Erica and I pulled up to Howard Street in Downtown Omaha. Running perpendicular to the river, Howard Street is this little hamlet of quaint, restaurant-lined adorableness.

Old brick buildings baring marks of decades past with faded paint and rickety awnings give way to a patio-lined street on a brick road dotted with restaurants and bars with ample outdoor dining to take in the summer weather. And, as Erica and I sit at one of the town’s award-winning (and inexpensive) restaurants, Indian Oven, we are delighted at the charm this city oozes.

People here are friendly. Even when a driver cuts me off as we turn out of Super 8 and onto the main road, she waves, smiles apologetically and keeps going. (Which of course delights the two of us, resulting in comments to the extent of “Oh, what a sweetheart!”)

When we walk inside the restaurant to take the obligatory photos, Erica and I meet Kim Reid Kuhn, a local artist who is about to have a show there.

As we look at her work, she politely asks us if we would like to see her studio down the street.

Of course, we oblige.

 

Kimberly, along with another artist, Sarah Rowe, guide us on a walk past antique shops, vintage stores and restaurants, before we arrive to her studio. The old building with brick walls and corridors that end with huge windows letting in blankets of light, is home to numerous studios and apartments.

We enter her space and both of us smile with delight.

We are in Omaha. And have already met people to make this trip memorable.

“You all want to come out with us tonight?” Kimberly asks as we walk around her studio, taking in her latest work — a huge piece of canvas secured to the wall. “We can show you all of the cool dive bars in town.”

Erica looks at me like she just got the best present in the world — eyes wide, smile encompassing her entire face. I am pretty sure her delight at being asked mimics mine.

Why, yes. Yes, we do.

We spend a few more minutes chatting with the two artists, learning about their work and marveling at their talents, and then head out.

Later that night, after dinner and a quick walk through a little slice of downtown, we find ourselves sipping PBR for $1.75 in Midtown at a punk rock bar, Brother’s Lounge.

The bathroom at Brother’s, complete with a false lash.

“Let’s do this tour!” Kimberly exclaims as we scoot out of the first bar and head to the next, Bud Olson Bar.

When we pull up and parallel park in front of the bar, she give us a friendly warning.

“This bar … it is old men and old hookers, plus an ugly mural in the back room and birthday cake on the ceiling.”

You have to see it to believe it.

We walk into Olson’s and the smell of cat piss permeates the air. Tonight, there aren’t many old men or old hookers there. But, just walking in and sitting at the long, smelly bar seems oddly comfortable. It is a neighborhood bar, a place that has long since vanished from many cities I have visited.

Kim and Sarah know the bartender and when we go in the back to take photos of the mural, no one questions us or our loud laughter.

Then, it’s on to the last stop of the night, Oleavers, a “club” with a mix of artists, musicians and hipsters.

“Careful, you can get an STD here just by taking off your shoes,” Kim warns, laughing.

Yes, I did sit on this chair.

For a couple of hours, Kim, Sarah, Erica and I hold court at the bar, learning about the music and art culture in Omaha. We chat with the bartender, a skinny guy with thinning hair and a full beard who wears a red and blue tasselled shirt and proudly pulls out a calendar featuring the Oleavers staff. His photo instantly draws smiles. He’s perched on a motorcycle, shirtless, doing his best “rawr,” complete with a come hither look.

When it is time to go, the owner of the bar takes us into a back room to give Erica and I “gifts” to take with us — a LP, a torn poster, his employee’s Christmas stockings from last year. When he tries to give us a bottle of lighter fluid, we pass. Arms full of these little tokens of our night, we head back to our hotel on the other side of town.

As we drive home, late into the evening, Erica and I take it all in.

What an amazing night, we say to each other on repeat.

One meal, one little decision, changed our entire time in Omaha.

And, that, my friends, is the beauty of travel. And Omaha.

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of the #winosontheroad series. Over Yonderlust and d travels ’round went road tripping and exploring America from Colorado to Maryland in June 2012. Be sure to check out all of the posts of life on the open road.

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There’s more to Nebraska than flat roads

“Oh my god,” I moan, pounding my head against the steering wheel as Erica and I drive east towards Nebraska from Denver. “It’s flat … forever!”

I look towards the horizon and see nothing but straight road, surrounded by flat farmland as we progress away from the Rockies and towards America’s Bread Basket.

“This is going to suck,” I say, half under my breath.

I’ve done road trips across America twice already and one thing has remained consistent: the middle of America is one hell of a boring drive if sticking to the interstates.

Two lanes on each side. A few trucks. Lots and lots of flat land that give way to gentle rolling hills.

I’ve seen it on I-70. I’ve seen it on I-40. And now, I get to see the same, in all of its flat glory, on I-80.

Only, this time, Erica and I have a plan.

Well, a little plan.

We’re going to make it fun.

So, as I kick my left foot up against the dash and roll my eyes at the landscape, Erica pulls out her iPhone and we start to shoot video of our ramblings.

When, after hours of driving, we hit the Nebraska border, I pull over and we get out to celebrate at the Nebraska sign. We have a little photo shoot. [Note: if you want to see even more cool photos of our cross-country trip, check out Erica’s post that features some amazing pics from out the window of the car.]

Then, we hop back in the car until we see a place to stop to film a “must see” spot along side the road. As trucks whizz by, she and I treat ourselves to a little break from the monotony and have fun with our stop.

We giggle like teenagers at our own silliness. (Editor’s Note: I’m pretty sure only Erica and I find any of this funny, but still!)

Hey, whatever makes the trip fly by, right?

Outside, in the heat (hello, 100-plus degrees) and humidity (I’m so very sorry, hair), we notice the beauty around us.

Yes, the road may be flat, but within that flatness is a still and a calm. A piece of nearly untouched land that is home to roaming cows, fields that will soon spring to life, and views that, on a stormy day, must be nothing short of simply spectacular.

When we finally reach Paxton, Neb., the two of us, only on our first day of our trip, are achy. Hungry. Ready to go and see this little town that has earned itself a niche for one particular spot — Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge.

As we roll through town in the Prius, we are greeted to a little snapshot of a simpler life where one main road crosses through fields. Where a gas station has painted on its side the offerings, including ammo.

“Oh my gosh,” we both say softly as we park the car on the side of the main road.

Across from Ole’s is a winery. It’s not open, but we press our faces to the glass, longing to try a pour of the Nebraska wine. Then, we cross back over to Ole’s and step inside and are instantly transported to another world.

The restaurant, known for one of the largest collections of taxidermy in the world, is dimly lit with a long bar dotted with stuffed ducks, birds and more. While I am not a fan of hunting for sport, and certainly got the creepy crawlies eating with these once-living mounted animals on the wall, I did appreciate where I was and the fact that not everyone agrees with my particular point of view.

Over a late lunch, we figure out a place to stay 300 miles down the road in Omaha, and book a hotel (Super 8) just outside of downtown.

And then, we are off … again. This time, into the Nebraska sunset, alive with glorious colors that dance off the fields of green.

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of the #winosontheroad series. Over Yonderlust and d travels ’round went road tripping and exploring America from Colorado to Maryland in June 2012. Be sure to check out all of the posts of life on the open road.

 

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