When Your Cell Phone Can’t Connect, Try Texting

I discover that when my cell phone can’t connect, text messaging may still work.

As I reported in another blog post, I was recently stuck in a location that had an intermittent cell signal. At one point, I’d have 3 or 4 bars (out of 5). But a moment later, without even moving, I’d have the No Signal symbol in its place.

It was vitally important that I communicate with my husband, Mike, before settling down for the night. If he didn’t hear from me, he’d worry and he might take some kind of action. I needed to tell him where I was and assure him that I was okay.

I was a campground, where I hoped to spend the night. Although I was towing a pull-trailer and could have disconnected the trailer from the truck and driven to a place with a better signal, that would have been a huge pain in the butt, especially since it was raining.

After multiple attempts to connect by phone, I started wondering if I could use text messaging. I use that feature of my phone quite a bit — mostly to post tweets on Twitter when I’m traveling. I seldom text anyone else. But on that trip, I’d gotten into the habit of sending a quick text message to Mike to update him on my location. Now, with a spotty cell reception, I started wondering if I could communicate with him by text message.

So I tried it. The phone said I had no signal, and when I tried to send the message, it warned me that the message had not gone through. But it also said that it would attempt to send the message as soon as it got a signal. And less than a minute later, the message was sent. I sent a few more to fully explain my predicament and assure him that I was all right. Then I went about my business, setting up camp.

I didn’t receive a response, so I started worrying that perhaps he hadn’t received the messages. So I composed another message asking for a response and walked over to where the reception seemed better than at my site. I got two messages from him. Two-way communication had been established. Mission accomplished. (Really, though.)

Mike’s not big on texting. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that he hates it. He’s not a good typist on a computer keyboard, and his phone isn’t set up for texting since it doesn’t have a alphabetic keypad. (He has a Raz’r; I have a Treo.) So his texting skills are minimal. I know he wasn’t happy about communicating with me like this, but it did work, so I don’t think he can complain.

As for me, I just find it interesting that I could send and receive text messages — with a delay — when it was impossible for my cell phone to make a voice connection. I’m going to keep that little tidbit in my bag of tricks in case I find myself in a similar situation.

What do you think?