· 454 words · 3 minute read

We put new SIM cards in our phones. The carrier is Hofer Telecom. It’s a grocery store and a cell phone company. The plan is $10 a month for 15 gigs of data and unlimited calls. I am not sure which I enjoyed more — firing AT&T or Comcast. Cable Internet is $39 a month for 100 gigabits, by the way.

Now we have these weird (to us) phone numbers that start with +43 — the Austrian country code. We also kept our U.S. numbers by porting them to Google Voice. You can switch any cell number from AT&T or Verizon, or whatever, to Google Voice, and it will ring the Google Voice app on your phone. So y’all can call us as if we never left. Sort of.

To port the numbers I signed into each person’s google account on my laptop. Alison, Max, Zoe, and me. I did this on my laptop, tethered to Alison’s iPhone wifi hotspot, when she was still on AT&T. It worked well, except when Google Voice made an authorization call to her phone, which dropped my connection, and led me to tether to MY phone instead. Then I tethered BACK to her phone so I could receive the authorization call on mine, and Zoe’s.

I decided to wait to port Max’s line because it was late, I was tired, etc. but this was a fatal mistake. The next day, three of our numbers had been ported to Google Voice already, so we switched to the Hofer SIM cards and the Austrian numbers. Except, again, for Max.

When I tried to port Max’s number to Google Voice my laptop was tethered to my iPhone as usual, but now it was using the Austrian number. And it just wouldn’t work. I searched for other people with the same problem and concluded this was an anti-fraud thing. Google Voice doesn’t trust my Austrian internet connection. When I asked my brother to try from American soil, it was clear that Google had marked Max’s number as compromised, hacked, garbage, kaputski.

So everyone can call or text me, Zoe, and Alison using our U.S. numbers — but not little Max. His buddies will have to use Whatsapp or something else to get in touch. Sigh.

Maybe he’s better off. The few times Alison and I tried Google Voice we were disappointed by an unwelcome lady-bot asking to record our names on the calling end — and the same unwelcome lady-bot asking if we wanted to take the call on the recieving end. Whatsapp just calls. So I guess we’ll be using that from now on. And maybe someday we’ll learn our Austrian numbers. Or not.

Update: lady-bot is off now. Thanks Jacob!