Thursday, July 06, 2006

Firecracker, Firecracker, ring-ring-ring!

I worked at a fireworks stand over the weekend. Hastings is pretty much a free for all when it comes to what you can shoot off. There are fireworks tents in every parking lot. The youth group hosts one as fundraiser every summer. So there I was from 6-10 on Saturday night with another adult and four high school kids, selling fireworks.

The craziest thing about the night -- and there were various things that struck me as a little crazy -- but the CRAZIEST thing was the cell phones.

The kids' phones rang incessantly. And of course they don't go "brrrr-ring brrrr-ring." Every caller has a different ringtone. And by ringtone, I mean obnoxious top 40 song. And one of the girls' phones played the Lone Ranger theme everytime someone texted her (da-da-dum, da-da-dum, da-da-dum-Dum-DUM...etc). She was constantly being texted. She had asked her boyfriend to drive-through and bring her some dinner. They went back and forth and back and forth texting and talking. And, as she was sitting right next to us, we heard all about it. The block by block update of his location. The change he received at the McDonalds window. How he put her on hold to take another call. How he just drove past her friend and honked.

This went on and on all night. I almost lost my mind.

I thought about myself in highschool. I remember summer nights sitting in my room, all alone, wishing, wishing, wishing someone would call or come by. I remember looking out my window, wondering if all my friends were all together except for me; wondering where they were, what they were doing, what they were wearing and what boys were there. It was summer. I had basically the freedom to do whatever I wanted--no school to get up for, no plans. But I was stuck at home.

There was a crucial time of day for social planning, which started around dinner time. The phone calls would start going around. Who wanted to go out? Where did we want to go? Who had permission to drive? Who had a car big enough or did we need two cars? Who was going to pick up whom and in what order? We had to work out a veritable phone tree & diagram to figure the logistics so seven girls (Emily, Alison, Jennifer, Jennifer, Erin, Lori & myself) could go sit at Taco Bell all night.

Ocassionally, I would miss the planning stage. Maybe I went out to dinner with my family. Maybe I was shopping. Worst of all, someone else might have been using the phone and my friends couldn't get through. And once the last girl was picked up from her house--that was it. Poof! They were gone. The girls were incomunicado until morning. What were they supposed to do -- stop driving past upperclassman parties they could never get into and find a payphone to call me? Plus, you simply did not call someone's house after nine-thirty, anyway. That was rude.

So, I would hang out in my pink & green Laura Ashley bedroom running through pom-pon routines, singing along with my radio, interviewing myself for talkshows and waiting for the phone to ring until about 9:45, afterwhich I knew there was no way I'd receive a call. Then I would hold out hope for my last chance and the best thing ever--a knock on the window.

If you couldn't call after 9:30, you certainly didn't knock! Having friends tap on the window sounds like we were being very secretive, but looking back on it, it was really more courtesy. We didn't want to disturb our parents, or get our friends in trouble for disturbing their parents. My Mom & Dad didn't care if friends came over to the house at 10:00 at night, but if they happened to be in bed, they didn't want the phone or doorbell ringing. It just wasn't done.

Fairly often, I would get the knock. Sometimes I would hear a car stop outside the house --it was not a through street, so that was a good sign-- and I would hold my breath and wait for it. If it came, it was a pulse pounding, face flushing, moment of giddy excitement. Who was it? The hope was always that it was the boyfriend or crush, but it was just exciting to have it be the girls. I'd go out on the front porch and talk for awhile...maybe ask my parents if I could have them in, maybe ask my parents if I could go out for a while.

Mostly, I was just relived to be reconnected with the world.

The highschool kids I know now are never disconnected from the world. They are IMing and texting and talking ALL the time. They will never wonder if the boy they liked called their house while they were gone, because they'll simply scroll through the caller ID. Question anwered-- just like that. They'll never miss a phone call--there's voicemail, call waiting, texting and if the caller knows who their with, they'll just call the other person's phone. There is simply no way to get left at home for the night, unless it's by malicious design. They talk to each other any hour of the day or night because a cell phone on vibrate won't wake up their parents.

By the time my kids are in highschool, they'll probably all have GPS devices imbedded in their skulls so they'll have concrete digital proof that McKenzie was at Austin's house last night even though he's supposed to be hanging out with McKayla. Gah!

No mystery. No intrigue. No longing for someone to break the silence of your bedroom. No knocks on the window. Just beeps and blips and a constant barrage of imformation. Boo.

Maybe I'm old crochety. Maybe, if I'm so worked up about it, I should throw my cell phone out the window and write this post by hand and mail it to you....uh...hmmmm....maybe not.


Jean said...

I know, it's sad, huh? I'm addicted to my cell phone too, but it happened on accident. I forget that I don't HAVE to answer it. Every once in a while I remember that and I feel like a rebel if I decide not to answer because I'm in the middle of something. My college prof. for the basic computer science class was great about that- he talked about taking breaks from technology. It's hard though. And it certainly is nice to be able to call from anywhere!

Anonymous said...

Amen to all of that, sister. As agonizing as it was to sit at home in our rooms and wait for our plans to come to us, at least we had the experience of being think, to play, just to be. Will our kids ever have alone time? Time that isn't always on the verge of intrusion by some technological device? I saw on TV where they sell cell phones for grade schoolers that just have 5 or so key numbers programmed in...just for safety, you know...just so your kid can always get you if they really need you...So now they prey on our fears and we wonder at what age our kids should get phones. I couldn't even get my ears pierced until I was 10, but I'm sure we'll be fighting with Lucy about a phone long before that.
So did you and the kids fire off any rockets? We introduced Lucy to the world of sparklers, and her world hasn't been the same since.
Love you all lots....Mel

emdunbar said...

I start my highschool Sunday School class by saying, "would you please turn off your cell phones and any other electronic devices."

Ollie's birthday was July 3 and in lieu of sparklers and whatnot (though they did get to watch us set off some stuff plus the municipal display)one of his presents was four 2-liters of Diet Coke and 2 packs of Mentos. We exploded them in the soccer field across the street. Very exciting.

Angela said...

I work at Ms State University, and I can't even see a patient without them texting on their phone. They will be looking at me, but those fingers are going 90 miles a minute. It drives me crazy! I know they are not listening to anything that I am saying. I think that I am just getting old!