MyLarry has Verizon and he had cell service. He called home on Saturday, pre-event, to find out if his sister had survived her emergency surgery on Friday evening. She has stage three, possibly stage four, ovarian cancer, a fast growing variety which will most assuredly kill her in under a year. he put his phone away after the call and did not call again until we were off playa.
But he could call that one time, and that was priceless. I am anti-phone on the playa, but suddenly I can see the benefits of available service. The technology will creep in, it is up to individual burners to decide how and when to access it, and to provide socially acceptable examples of phone behavior.
True story, third hand: A woman rolled up to the gate on the phone. The gate staff tapped on her window. She snarled at them, "Can't you see I'm on the phone? I have to finish this call!" (paraphrased) They left her alone for ten minutes or so and tried again. She was still on the phone. They sent her to D lot to finish her conversation. She sat there for a couple hours, plenty of time to finish that call.
As for wishing cancer on people: don't. Just don't. I lost my brother to it in December. I am losing a sister in law to it now. I came home to read an email that a dear online friend had passed while I was away. Fuck cancer, but fuck you too for wishing it on people. They have families and friends and loved ones. Fuck you for using it as a joke.