Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day Seventeen: Thankful for Cell Phones... Hear Me Out Before YouDisagree


Before I even get started, I know that some people will read my little post on Facebook or the title for this blog and think "Really?  Cell phones have destroyed social interactions, corrupted our youth, and have become the cause of driving accidents".  

I know a few of those people, and before you write off my thankful post as being materialistic or shallow... just give me a chance to explain, and hear me out.

Today, I am very thankful for cell phones.  Not just the phone in the picture, even though that is my new iPhone... and I am very thankful that I had the means to be able to get it, but all cell phones.  Cell phones I've owned, having a cell phone in general.

I have owned a cell phone for about a decade.  And, my first cell phones were nothing more than phones that went with me when I left my house.  No fancy abilities such as internet or games.  Just a phone that was stuck in my purse and gave me a way of reaching people when I wasn't at home by my landline if and only if I needed to.

And, the first time my car broke down in the middle of nowhere, and I was in a car wreck while owning a cell phone made me realize how thankful I was for such a thing.

The sad thing was, both of those situations occurred on the same day.

But, had I not had a cell phone on that day, who knows what could have or would have happened.

The year was 2012.  Peanut was 2 years old, Butter was a year old.  I had been living in Texas after thinking it was smart to pack us all up and move down there with my ex... because moving away would somehow fix all the problems we had, and would stop him from being the evil, abusive, unloving person he was.

I was wrong, obviously, but that's not what this post is about.

So, I had moved to Texas, lived there for several months, learned my lesson that my ex was always going to be the person he was, and decided to pack myself and the kids back up and move back to Oklahoma to be with my family.  And when I say "pack up" I literally mean throw as much stuff as I could fit in to the car with myself and the kids and make the 8 hour drive back.

Well, make the trip that was supposed to be 8 hours long.

Before making the journey, I decided to spend a few dollars on a TracPhone.  A cheap cell phone with prepaid minutes.  I hadn't been able to afford an actual cell phone at this point in my life, but I also didn't like the idea of traveling so far without some way of contacting my family if I needed to.  Apparently someone was watching out for me that day, because I had no idea how much I would need that phone.

Only an hour away from my beginning destination, my car broke down.  It just died.  In the middle of nowhere, at 5AM, during an incredible storm that was (according to the radio I had been listening to minutes before the car died) producing tornadoes left, right, and center.  As I stood on that almost deserted highway, watching the one or two cars driving down that road pass me by, I began to panic.  What was I going to do?  I used the phone for the first time to call my mom.  My mom told me that I would have to get someone to stop and help.  I was miles away from civilization.  There wasn't a house to walk to.  There wasn't a gas station for miles.  As it poured down rain, she suggested that the only way I was going to get anyone to stop would be by getting one of the kids out of the car.  It may sound mean, but it truly was the only way to get someone to stop.  I had tried flagging people down.  I had tried waving and yelling and even crying.  Nothing made anyone stop.  I finally got Peanut out and held her... and a few minutes later, a car pulled over.

The good Samaritans happened to be two young men.  A little nerve wracking, but having my mom on the phone with me somehow made it OK.  I was talking to her.  She was keeping me calm.  One guy took a look at the car and told me that my alternator had gone out.  There would be no way of getting it running on the side of the road...and the only option I had was to be towed to the nearest town, which was about 20 miles away.  

The guys had a chain, and offered to tow me.  

Everything started out fine.  They got the car hooked up.  The road was straight, so I was able to keep the car controlled as they pulled me.  And then we started to go uphill.  Still no problem... until we hit the top of the hill, and going down was curvy and steep.  As we started to go down the hill, the brakes wouldn't respond, the back of my car collided with the back of the car towing me, and it caused our cars to start spinning.  The cars spun 360 degrees three times before coming to a quick stop RIGHT ON THE EDGE of the side of the road...with about a one foot clearance before the cars would have fallen off a drop of at least fifty feet.

Fear is not a word to describe the few seconds that past while spinning out of control and stopping.  Fear is not a word to describe looking out the passenger side window and thinking I was actually hanging off that edge, and that one movement would send my car right over.  One of the guys jumped out of his car and assured me that I could get out and made sure we were all OK.  My car wasn't majorly damaged.  A minor dent in the bumper, but a tire that had been completely taken off the rim by the spinning.

A couple of cars stopped to make sure we were all OK, but no one that stopped could offer any assistance.  So, I used my phone and called my mom...once again.  She immediately got to work to send help, and contacted a tow truck from Abilene that was about 40 miles away to come and collect the car, take us to Abilene, and to get the car to a service station.  Had I not had that phone, I really don't know what I would have done.  No one that stopped owned a phone.  It wasn't as common back then.

And thanks to that phone, and my mom's quick thinking and help, we got to Abilene safely, the car was fixed, and we were able to continue on our journey back to Oklahoma.

The trip was supposed to take 8 hours, but thanks to car problems and the wreck and bad weather that seemed to stay with us through the entire trip, it ended up being close to 24 hours.  Three times as long.  The problems weren't over once the car was fixed, we hit major storms when hitting the Oklahoma border that prevented me from driving over 30 mph, and I even had to pull over a few times.    But, a quick call to my mom gave me the strength to continue on my journey, focus on my destination, and make it back home, however long it took.

Once ending that trip, I realized that having a cell phone was something I HAD to have.  It was a necessity.  And, I made a promise with myself that the minute I had the financial means, I would get one.  And that's exactly what I did, and have had a cell phone ever since.

Over the years, my cell phone has been a similar lifesaver.  I've been in two major wrecks where my cell phone provided me a way to call for help.  I've been in situations where my car has broken down.  And living where we do, it was a lot easier to call for help than to walk to the nearest place that could offer help.  

Last year, we finally decided to get Peanut a cell phone.  With her growing up and spending more time away from home visiting friends or going to games or having practices in another town, it made sense that she have a way to contact us if she needed to.  It has given me a sense of calm and peace of mind knowing that she has a way to call us if she ever needs to.

The safety aspect has always and is always the major perk, but there's a lot of other benefits that newer cell phones have given me.  Internet access to Google something I'm trying to find.  Text messaging to allow me to talk to people without actually talking.  Although, I will say that I'm sure cell phones are the reason I don't like talking on the phone anymore.  I much prefer to text... which is weird... but it's true.   Sitting in doctor's offices is now a lot more bearable thanks to instant access to games.  Music to listen to when I'm running or tired of the same old stuff being played on the radio.  And, let's not forget the fact that I'm never away from my Facebook feed.

My cell phone has also provided a way to capture memories.  I no longer have to tote around a camera in order to take pictures of special events, or family gatherings, or certain milestones.  I can just grab my phone and snap a picture.  And, I believe that I have WAY more photos of my kids than I would have if I didn't have a camera on my phone.  I wouldn't have thought twice about taking some of the photos I've taken in the past few years, if I couldn't do it by holding my phone up to them and clicking a button.  

At the end of the day, I have some very valid serious reasons for being thankful for my phone, and some not so serious silly reasons for being thankful.  

My cell phone has given me comfort, peace of mind, a way out of a sticky situation, a connection to friends and loved ones, memories, and a way to pass the time.  

And for those things, I am truly thankful.


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