They’re called cell PHONES for a reason
Troy Media – by Kelly Martin
It would appear that my little darling has left his cell phone at home. I’ll kill him.
For the past 25 minutes Meredith, my 18 year old, and I have been parked in the gloomy, rain-drenched parking lot waiting for my incommunicado 16 year old son Henry to emerge from his school dance. Growing impatient, we’ve been texting him to find out how much longer he expects to be. Why isn’t he acknowledging?
Why isn’t he answering?
I’m not concerned that his phone isn’t charged. Henry would never allow that fate to negate his ability to text his dear pals. Nor am I worried that he is hurt or missing. On the organizing committee for the dance, he’s probably still helping to clean up and put things away.
What makes me so mad, beyond the fact that I’ve wasted a healthy portion of my night, is that I can’t reach him. The whole reason I bought into the cell phone contract was for situations such as this. Quick communication for quick answers. This current failure in communication is frustrating to the extreme. Henry knows the drill. Take your phone and keep it on. I can only assume, therefore, that he has left it at home despite this morning’s decidedly dismissive “Yes, Mom, I have my phone. I’ll text you when it’s over.”
Inside the car, the tension is palpable. I was under the delusion I would simply zip down to the pool and collect Meredith from work then pick up Henry and go home. Bad mommy. My daughter is sporting a wet bathing suit and damp towel as she hopped into the car straight out of the water. As an added bonus, the car’s interior is now cloaked in chlorine fumes.
The two of us have been treated to a steady parade of giggling, texting dancers spilling out of the building. My daughter, hunched mutely beside me, scrunches impossibly lower with each sighting. God help us if anyone sees her with wet hair.
The throng flows to a trickle and lights start to wink out in the building. Where is he? Someone ought to go in and ask. I’m torn. I am feeling a mite underdressed myself. Anticipating that quick pick up I’m wearing droopy sweat pants, my late husband’s faded oversized sweatshirt and a pair of muddy black gumboots. With my luck I’ll run into a lingering knot of fashionable moms and their phone equipped teens.
It’s now been 30 minutes. With a pitiful look in my direction, Meredith has had enough. She hauls her damp form into the back seat and rummaging through her swim bag, she unearths a pair of jeans and a hoodie. With my ears ringing from the slamming of the car door, I watch her hooded figure mount the school steps to pound with an open palm on the now locked glass door.
A brief chit chat with a fellow student results in her quick return to the car. “He just left to walk home with Devon and Allison. Go!”
Numb with disbelief, I wheel out of the parking lot and head for home five blocks away. Seconds later, lit by the yellow glow of the streetlight, three people can be seen shuffling along the sidewalk with their carefully coifed hair flattened by the rain.
My head turns towards them. With absolutely no conscious intent, I find my face stretching into a rictus grin and my left arm rising in greeting and the car . . . sailing . . . on . . . by . . . . My son’s confused, astounded visage gives me enormous self satisfaction.
Call next time
It’s clear upon his soggy arrival home five minutes later that he understands the meaning of the silent drive-by. Brandishing his phone, he bellows “I texted and told you not to wait.” A quick comparison of our phones proves the text was sent but never received. That is odd. This is a scenario that I hadn’t considered.
I’m forced to rethink my position. He had his phone all along and, while rather late, he did attempt to communicate that he had changed his plans. I just never got the message. OK. Now what? How to prevent this miscommunication from happening again?
Sensing he’s gaining the upper hand, Henry’s expression relaxes. We stand rigidly apart in our living room, our focus directed at the now guilty phones. The solution occurs to us at the same time; the tension evaporating between us with a silent puff. They’re cell phones. We’ll call each other from now on. Message sent and received.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Markham began his journalism career writing columns in the mid-1980s for Western People Magazine, then reported for a small Saskatchewan daily. He has spent most of his career in media and communications, likes to dabble in politics, was actively involved in economic development for many years, thinks that what goes on in the community is just as important as what happens provincially and nationally, and has a soft spot for small business (big business, not so much). Markham is a bit of a contrarian and usually has a unique take on the events of the day.