2006.08.30 Cell-phony

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

We were traveling I-75, heading south to Kentucky. Colleen was at the wheel of the van. Up ahead were our two daughters with Rosanna at the wheel of her car, on her way back to college.

The purpose of this trip was twofold: to carry some of Rozee’s junk back to school and continue the Tour of Colleges Maddie Has No Interest In Attending. You’ve read about past excursions across the page in my wife’s columns. This was my first leg of the tour.

As I said, we were heading south, approaching Dayton, and we had entered a torrential downpour. There was talk via cellphones of getting off and having dinner. The sky looked nasty, but it appeared that the bad weather was off to the side, so we drove on past the exit. A minute later the rain hit.

It didn’t take long before Colleen had had enough. The windshield seemed to be covered with a film and it was really tough to see.

I was ordered to pick up the cell phone and tell the other half of our party to abandon all hope. I pushed the call button and waited for the answer.

“Now she wants to get off,” I said

“What?”

“She’s ready to get off now,” I repeated.

“Who is?”

“Your mother,” I said.

This is no time to clown around, Maddie, I thought.

“Who is this?” she asked.

“Well who is this?” I asked back.

“Ky.”

So I was talking to Kylene Spiegel back in Morenci or off at college and giving her the news that her mother wanted to get off. I’m sure that didn’t make a lot of sense. What could I do next but say something stupid? Well, I suppose I could have told her about the rain and Colleen driving, etc., but instead I asked her how things were in the circus.

“The circus?” she asked.

I told her I had to go now. I never did mention my name.

Maddie examined the cell phone later in a restaurant and started in on the well-deserved “Dad is a cell phone idiot” routine. I thought it automatically re-dialed the last number dialed. I’m sure they told me that in the past.

Maddie: “How did you do that? You’d have to scroll down and...”

Enough already. I probably took a couple photos of my ear, too.

 We toured the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Nice place. Many, many gingko trees—really big gingkos—some pawpaws and Kentucky coffeetrees, of course. There was also the biggest catalpa tree that I’ve ever seen. It has to be in the running for the national champ. It’s a really good tree campus.

That’s my report of UK. Here’s Maddie’s.

Mother: What did you think of UK, Maddie?

Daughter: It seems nice.

Mother: Could you see yourself going there?

Daughter: I don’t know.

That was said with a little annoyance. I think she’s tiring of the where-are-you-going-to-college? routine.

We did a drive-by tour of Eastern Kentucky University and Transylvania University, just because we were in the neighborhood. It was nothing serious; she’s after a name-brand college, and Transylvania doesn’t make the grade, even if it is the oldest college in Kentucky.

We had one more campus to tour on the way home—Miami of Ohio in Oxford—but we had to jettison that plan after spending an hour in a traffic jam around Lexington. Miami might make it as a name-brand school—I think it’s known as the Harvard of southern Ohio—but Maddie announced that it was OK with her if we didn’t go. Just one more stop on the tour of places she’ll never go.

I’ve had more than enough of cell phones from this trip. At least once an hour an odd, muffled sound arises as someone has to check in. I was told the sound is a home-made ringtone that Maddie recorded. Always something to jolt you out of a highway snooze when someone else is at the wheel.

What I’ve learned about the cell phone from this trip is that it can extend the sphere of the back-seat driver. Colleen can now sit in Vehicle A and direct the driver of Vehicle B to slow down or turn here or get both hands on the wheel.

Now I’m back home where a real telephone hangs from the wall. I suppose I should call Kylene and explain, but I think I’ll just let her think it over for a while longer.

 

– Aug. 30, 2006
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