Torschlusspanik: travel plans

one phone number at a time


The Word Of The Day for April 26 was Torschlusspanik, pronounced toɐ̯ʃlʊsˈpanɪk. It means “The fear that time to act is running out.” It is a German word from the 1960s that literally means “gate-shut panic.” A sample sentence: “I raced to the train station with the Torschlusspanik that I was going to miss the last train of the evening.”

We felt this during the last two weeks of our travel plans before our trip to France—the first big worry: communication. I called my phone carrier to learn how to use my cell phone overseas. The answer: I can’t. Their service covers only the US and Canada.

I called a friend who has traveled to more countries than any three people I know, and they suggested a carrier. During the  90-minute call, I also ordered a new phone and a watch.

The new phone was supposed to arrive on Monday, six days before our departure, which would have been great. But it was rescheduled for Tuesday, a busy day; sure enough, the attempted delivery occurred while I was away from home.

It finally arrived on Wednesday morning, but I needed to accomplish so many non-trip tasks that I could not start on the phone tasks until  Thursday, three days before departure. The first piece was setting up a remote WiFi device so my wife could use HER phone and I could access my computer. But I  couldn’t get it to work.


I had to contact my current cell carrier and get a transfer PIN to give to the new carrier so I could keep my old phone number. After I unpackaged the new phone, I had to wait. My previous phone was the first iPhone I ever owned. I learned what others already knew, that the applications from Phone 1 move to Phone 2 when they are nearby.

Then my wife called to say she was coming home, and I had to take out the garbage, run the dishwasher and pack. We have to pick up our daughter from college the next day. Because my wife had to work Saturday, she correctly decided that we should drive out the night before and stay at a hotel.

We arrived at our daughter’s dorm. My, there’s a lot of stuff. We had brought home quite a bit at spring break. But I doubted whether what she packed could fit in the vehicle, and I’m an excellent car packer.

Ultimately, she abandoned a couple of items. Still, there were things under my daughter’s feet. Her dirty laundry was in a large plastic bag between my legs, which I pressed down so that it would not block the mirror on the passenger-side door.

We unloaded the car, and my daughter and I schlepped the items inside as my wife went to work. Our living room was a disaster area.

During this process, my new carrier assigned me a new telephone number. Yikes, no! I spent another two hours returning to my old cell number and synching it to the new watch.

Wizard’s Wardrobe

One day before departure, my wife was tabling in Washington Park during the Tulipfest on Saturday. She’s promoting where she works, Wizard’s Wardrobe, an afterschool tutoring program in Albany’s South End.  I volunteered to work a three-hour shift, which was productive and fun, but it fed into the Torschlusspanik.

Ultimately, after I got home, my daughter got the SIM card into a device, scanned my wife’s and my passports into a Customs app, Mobile Passport Control, and did it all in four minutes after I was unsuccessful.

We’re packed and all set to go to France. Or I hope so.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

3 thoughts on “Torschlusspanik: travel plans”

  1. Thank you for sharing your relatable experiences and capturing the essence of Torschlusspanik in travel preparations. Your article beautifully portrays the challenges and anxieties faced when time is limited. Your storytelling kept me engaged, and I appreciated your ability to convey the sense of urgency and the hurdles encountered. Safe travels to France, and I hope everything falls into place smoothly.

  2. Well all went successfully since you are now home. Switching phones is a big pain! My phone also does not work abroad, so I try to wing it, but that is becoming more difficult since lots of places assume you have one.

  3. It is always wise to have a “younger” person around when working with phones and devices. I have found they do things so much quicker!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial