Monday, April 25, 2011


The reason I have a cell phone is so that when I'm out running errands in one of our unreliable vehicles, I can call Steve or Grammy or someone to come rescue me if mysterious smoke or strange noises or an overheated engine requires me to pull over on the shoulder of the highway. Or, so that when something similar happens to one of my kids while they're out toodling around in said vehicle, they can reach me.

The cell phone is not a social tool for me. I'm sadly prone to turn it off before church Sunday morning, then forget to turn in back on for days. If we're busy with school or some other chore, I'll ignore it entirely. I am very grateful to have this electronic device, but let's just say, I don't get the techno-mileage out of it that most other folks do. And I'm okay with that.

Last Thursday, I dropped the girls off for piano lessons, then made a quick run to Wal-Mart to pick up a few groceries. Mission accomplished, I turned my buggy toward the front of the store to go check out. Brrrrng! Brrrrng!

I strongly dislike using the cell phone when I'm out in a public place. Feels kind of like I'm being rude to those around me. You know, instead of making eye contact with the young mother on Aisle 14 and complimenting her on her sweet children, I'm listening to details about Fiona's dental appointment last week. Or, instead of chatting briefly with the fellow stocking produce, I'm uh-huh-ing Clarice's report about what she overheard while getting her hair colored. Call me old-fashioned, but that just doesn't seem right.

Anyway, here I was in the middle of Wal-Mart last week when my phone went off. Thankfully, it was a good friend who isn't prone to nonsense calls...probably had some detail to pass along about the upcoming Easter service. Confident this would be a quick call, I answered the phone.

Is there ever a good time to receive really bad news? I guess not. But I can say with certainty, in the middle of Wal-Mart, 10 minutes before time to pick up kids from's just plain awful. The news coming over the cell phone that afternoon quite literally knocked the wind out of me. I turned my buggy into an uncongested aisle and slumped against the shelves. Shaking with suppressed sobs, I covered my face with my hands. Breathe.

I did eventually make it to the front of the store. I checked out and paid for my groceries, wiping my eyes with the backs of my hands the whole time. Out in the parking lot, with everything loaded in the trunk, I slammed the car door, fastened my seat belt, and proceeded to have a good fall-apart.

I think cell phones should come with a feature...maybe a special ring tone?...that warns you: Find a quiet spot to sit down. This call is going to be a hard one.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Cell phones and emails are definitely not appropriate communication tools for really bad news. I can understand the person making the call to you possibly being so overwhelmed with the news themselves to not be culpable for not considering your reception of the news in a less than appropriate setting. This is a lesson to me. If I am ever in the situation of needing to report bad news and I reach someone by cell phone, I hope that I am able to discern if the person I am calling is in a situation to receive the news safely. AND I know to never email bad news, such as the death of a relative. From one non-techie to another, checking emails a couple of weeks after a funeral can be pretty traumatic.
Now, back to your bad news. God bless you and all your loved ones. I hope that whatever took your breath away and reduced you to tears is past or at least subsided. I love you.