There are still parts of this world that don’t offer cell coverage. In these rare places, you can find your average human beings who are usually riddled with kindness angrily pushing buttons and holding their arms in the air while balancing on chairs on top of chairs on top of tables.
Or you might find someone who happily hits the off button and goes on his or her merry way.
This used to be me. At a family cabin hangout, we used to have zero cell service. In fact, my father once bet me $50 that I couldn’t complete a phone call and I walked away with a dropped jaw and a heavy pocket. For the most part, we were isolated. There were no emails, texts, phone calls. The thought of Facebook crossed no one’s mind. It was a place to escape the reality of the uber-connectedness of the modern world where you could eat a delicious plate of food and if you took an antiqued photograph of it, it would possibly be days before it hit the social media for others to like.
But then, a new cell tower went in.
At first, we were all in denial. “It doesn’t really work. You have to balance on this chair wearing a helmet made of aluminum foil and hold a spoon in your teeth if you want to send a text,” we exaggerated, trying to fool ourselves.
Before long, technology improved and even though we often pretend to disconnect, it now works quite well back in those hills.
Sometimes, though, the world works in mysterious ways.
While recently visiting, I felt a bit of disconnect of my own because even people who write humor columns in the newspaper have bad days. Feeling a little down and sad, there came a faint “ding” from my phone that had been stashed in my pocket only for taking photos.
“Just wanted to say hi. Stuck in FL but miss u!” wrote my vacationing friend, as randomly as if an eagle had flown overhead.
Not long after, another “bing” from my back pocket, the conclusion of a group conversation with old friends from hours earlier. “We all need to get together soon. For real this time.”
There’s something to be said for removing yourself from the outside world, the constant connection that never lets us feel alone. But that evening when my spirits were down, there were my friends, new and old, magically picking me up via the mystery of the airwaves by saying hello at the right time from right in my pocket.
I vowed just then to make sure I send a text the second I get an inkling to say hello to someone. Perhaps the airwaves and continued cell coverage was just what they might need, too.
Originally written 7/6/14