Saturday, February 28, 2015

“Whadda Ya Mean You Don't Use A Cell Phone?”

If you hang out in the Korner, you know that I very recently started writing a column for my local newspaper.

If this is the first time you're hearing about my new gig, catch up, click HERE.

This is my second article for The Laker.  Enjoy!

I'll just be over here in the Korner, doing my happy dance!

Give me your number, and I'll text you.”

It's a phrase heard every day. It's become part of our 'modern language'.

The cell phone is the primary source of communication, information and entertainment for many people. If not for calling, they're used for texting, browsing the internet, sending email, taking pictures, video, playing games, and all kinds of additional features that the phone is equipped with, and most of us never attempt to use.

As a society, we tend to complain how today's kids are 'always on those phones!'.

But what isn't discussed (as much), is that there seems to be just as many adults who have their faces in a phone, as well.

You see them in a restaurant, store, coffee shop, gas station, almost everywhere. You can look around in any establishment and chances are you'll see someone on their phone.

People will walk and talk down the street.

Or worse, you'll catch people in traffic, hand to their ear talking or glancing down to finish that forbidden text message.

Because we all know it's illegal to text and drive.

And while I think they are essential in an emergency situation, and definitely a lifestyle convenience, I think they take away from our personal interaction and communication, and aren't an absolute necessity.

I'm not a big fan of cell phones. There. I've said it.

I was a late bloomer. Most everyone I knew had a cell phone before I did. I just didn't see the need, and as a single parent, didn't want the extra expense, until I was stuck on the highway in storm traffic one day, and couldn't reach the daycare.

I got a phone the next day.

I used my cell(s) for seven years. Mainly for texting, but also calling, games and pictures. I never really used any of the other features and I didn't browse the internet unless I could connect to wifi, because I didn't enable a data plan.

Eventually, one day, I put the phone down, and didn't use it anymore. And today is the one year anniversary of when I sent my last text message, and made my last call.

It wasn't really intentional. It just happened.

I didn't renew the 'pay as you go' plan when it ran out, which is the beauty of no contracts.

I simply decided one day that I was done. The always growing expense wasn't worth the convenience and entertainment. For me.

Both my teenagers have cell phones. They pay for their own minutes. They can always reach me when they need me.

Unless I'm out. And if I'm out. I'm out. You'll get me when I'm back. If it's an emergency, my kids always know where I'll be and would call the business itself.

Everyone else? Call my house, leave me a message, I'll get back to you, old school.

Has it been an inconvenience? Not very often.

There was really only one incident in the past year, where I could have used a cell phone to clarify where I was meeting someone. It would have saved 20 minutes of sitting at the wrong entrance.

But I don't think one major incident of inconvenience in a whole year is that bad.

No, my kids can't track me down at the grocery store to let me know we need milk, or that they want ice cream. But that's OK. The milk will have to wait until the next day, and they don't need the ice cream anyway.

Has it been liberating? Absolutely!

It's never a distraction while driving, I'm never interrupted during a conversation or a meal, I don't have to worry about forgetting to turn it off at public events and become, 'that person', and I don't always feel the constant pressure to get back to someone immediately.

Not everything has to be instant.

I understand that some people would rather not be technologically disconnected from their families this way, especially in case of an emergency. I get that.

I also understand that some may see it as not being a very responsible parent, to not be constantly available every single minute.

To those people, I simply ask them to think back to their own parents. Were they irresponsible people only because they didn't carry a cell phone on them at all times? I know mine were great parents, and neither carried a cell phone until I had children of my own.

And was I an irresponsible mother prior to 2006, when I got my first flip phone? Absolutely not. I believe I did a great job caring for my kids to that point.

Do I still carry the phone with me, to play games and take pictures? Sometimes!

Why not play Trivia Crack or Angry Birds (yes, I play Angry Birds), while waiting for the boy to get his hair cut, or what if I happen to catch that perfect shot, without a camera?

It can still be a free convenience, if you own your phone.

And most importantly, I want to have it for emergency purposes. It may not be active, but I can always dial 9-1-1 if I need to.

That, I think, at the least is responsible.

I get all kinds of reactions from people. Everything from surprise, to envy, to somewhat disapproval.

Whadda ya mean you don't use a cell phone?” That's the most common statement for me, that immediately follows, “Give me your number, and I'll text you.

I've gotten used to answering that question. Just like I've gotten used to going without the phone.

It can be done. It's not that hard. You just put it down, and don't pick it up again.


Go ahead. Try it. Liberate yourself. Even if only for a little while.

Unless, of course, you only need one more category to win that game of Trivia Crack, then go ahead and finish the game first.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

It's Not Like I Got The Shot Anyway

Yesterday I was at the right place, at the right time!

And then I ruined it.

They say that people are so caught up in getting that 'perfect' Facebook moment in a picture, that they aren't enjoying the actual moment itself.

As I was reading through the article, I thought to myself, 'Well, no, I do both.

I don't take my pictures specifically for Facebook purposes.  I've always been a photo maniac, from the time I was little, (and now I'm the chick who takes 500 pictures when I go to concerts), so in a lifetime of picture taking, I've learned to master enjoying the moment, and capturing it.

Or so I thought, until yesterday.

I was letting the cat out, mid-afternoon, and I stood on the deck for a minute to take in some fresh air.

Then I heard it.

It was like a rumble, coming from the back of the house, and it was getting louder, fast.

All of a sudden they came around the corner, a giant flock of birds that looked like a huge sheet flying in the wind. 

There had to be at least 50 of them. Probably more.

They all came to an abrupt stop, landed in my snow-covered hedge a few feet away with a big whoooooosssshh , and sat there.

It was amazing! They just appeared out of nowhere, at the exact moment I was standing there, and there were SO MANY of them, I couldn't help but just stare.

But only for a few short seconds, before the thought hit me, 'I've got to get a picture of this!', and turned and ran for my camera.

When I got back, they were gone.  All that was left was the empty, frozen hedge.

I cursed myself for running for the camera, and missing the moment they all took flight, because I think that would have been just as beautifully cool as their sudden arrival.

If I had stayed, and enjoyed them for only a few seconds more, I wouldn't have missed that moment.

And, it's not like I got the shot anyway.

Guess I haven't quite mastered both after all, so I'm glad I saw them for the time I did.

I have no idea what they were. I'm not a 'bird person'.

They were small, and grey and white with black (I think).  It all happened so fast, and I was so taken aback by their appearance, I wasn't really sure what I was looking at.  But I know they weren't crows or blue jays or cardinals or seagulls.

They might have been chickadees. 

Pic taken from here.

It was simply one of those unexpected 'nature moments' that leaves you going 'Wow ... that was really cool.' and unless you have a camera hanging around your neck at the time, forget the pic, stay and enjoy that moment, because in the next heartbeat, it will be gone, and you will have missed both.

Oh, and the next time you're reading an article on Facebook, or someone else's comment, and think to yourself, that you're not like that article, or comment ... careful ... Mother Nature may decide to call you on that.

Or Alfred Hitchcock.  Just sayin'.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

I Could Have Killed That Police Officer. I Came That Close.

There's a relatively new law (where I live), that came into effect in 2010, which states you must slow down to 60km an hour, and pull over into the lane furthest away, if there is an emergency vehicle pulled off to the side of the road.

I get it.  

I understand why the law is there.

We're all trying to avoid causing another accident.

But sometimes, following this law can actually cause the accident, as I discovered the other day.

Since the weather was finally cooperating on Wednesday and the sun was shining, I decided to go for a small road trip to visit the Bestie.

The double-lane highway was surprisingly good the whole way.

I wasn't speeding.  In fact, I was keeping it at an even hundred, so I was a little bit under the limit.

But on these roads, after the weather we've had, you just never know when you're going to hit a small drift in the middle of the lane(s), or black ice that sends your tires into a spin and your car out of control.

So I was simply keeping up with everyone else, and even managed to pass when I could.

Passing was easy, as long as you watched for the clean stretches.  But like I said, every now and then you hit an unexpected snow/slush patch, so passing was only attempted when necessary (coming up behind someone who was painfully crawling along), and on a clean straight stretch.

I may be a woman driver, but contrary to the belief of some, that doesn't automatically mean I'm an idiot when it comes to driving.

I'm safe and I pay attention.

I was about 10 minutes from Truro when it happened. 

I had come up behind a cube van, and ahead of that was an 18 wheeler without the box on top.  It still had the long trailer part on the back, behind the cab, just no box.

I looked around the cube van and saw the passing lane was clear of snow and slush.


So I pulled out to pass.

I got past the cube van no problem, and since the passing lane was still good, I kept going.

I had just started to pass it. Was maybe three feet or so past the very end of the truck.

All of a sudden, without warning, he started coming over into my lane.

You know those moments, when something unbelievable is happening, and you're thinking ... 'WTF?  Is this really happening?!?!?'

Yeah, it was one of those moments.

I looked over and despite the fact I was yelling, 'STOP!', ' STOP!' ... yes, it was really happening. The 18 wheeler was coming into my lane.

He was going to drive straight into the front of my car!

Did he not see me?

What the hell was he doing?

I immediately let off the gas.

Here I was, driving along, minding my own business, and all of a sudden I'm faced with the decision of letting an 18 wheeler slam into me, or run me off the road into the ditch.

Those were my two choices at the moment.

Instead, I went with option number 3.  The WRONG one.

When I saw the truck was REALLY ready to hit me, I panicked.

I admit it.  I'm an idiot.  I panicked.

I hit the brakes to avoid the crash.

Unfortunately, I hit the brakes at the exact same moment I was going over a snow/slush covered patch in my lane.

I lost control.

Everything else happened in a matter of seconds.

The minute I hit the brakes, I fishtailed, spun out and turned sideways.

When I tried to regain control, I spun out again, and flew out behind the 18 wheeler, into the right hand lane where he had just come from.

When I slid out from behind the truck, I came face to face with a police car, in the middle of the lane, and the police officer standing NEXT TO THE CAR in the middle of the highway.

He was not pulled over safely to the side. He was right in the middle of the freakin' road!

My heart stopped.  Literally stopped beating, I know it. 

Here it was, a gorgeous sunny morning, about 10 am, all was right with my world, and now ... I'm about to smoke a police officer standing in the middle of the road.

What is happening right now?!?!??!!?

I panicked again.  Don't judge.  If you're about to slam into a person standing in the middle of the highway, with your out of control car, you'd panic, too!

I yanked the wheel back to the left and slid again.

There was one and only one thought going through my head.

'Please, God, don't let me hit him!'

I have no idea what that poor man thought, seeing a car coming straight at him (sort of), but out of control.

I didn't make it back into the passing lane completely, but by a few feet, it was enough.

When I yanked the wheel to the left, and the car turned and slid, I went by the police officer and his car ... sideways.

Yes, sideways.  

Might have been diagonally, but it wasn't straight.

My ass end was facing him on the way by, nose pointing at the ditch, and all I saw in that split second when I turned around, was his sunglasses, as his head turned to watch me slide by.

Another second later, and I hit the dry patch, regained control, moved over and fell in behind the 18 wheeler, who eventually pulled over to the right hand lane again.

The police officer didn't come after me, and no, I didn't stop.

There were still cars behind me, although the cube van had backed off when he saw me lose control, so I didn't want to take the chance of hitting the brakes to stop and lose it again.

I shook the rest of the way to Truro.

I probably should have pulled over for a minute, if nothing else, to stop shaking, but I just wanted to get to the Bestie's and get out of the car.

I made the pit stop at Tims, and when I finally got through her door, I said, 'OK, I'm going to have a little breakdown now.'

And I did.

I cried for what had almost happened.

I could have killed that police officer.  I came that close.

I realize now what happened.

There must have been an accident earlier in the morning and a tow truck had come to get a car involved. 

The tow truck was still on the highway, with the car on back, and I believe the police officer was where he was to warn the traffic of the tow truck up ahead.

I get it.

I know why he was there.

I now know the 18 wheeler didn't have any choice but to cut me off, or HE may have hit the officer.

But ... here's the part that bothers me.  The car was already on the back of the tow truck. WHY didn't they all pull off, safely, to the side of the road, at least?

All the stars and planets aligned to put that officer in the middle of the road, and the truck cut me off, and I hit the snow patch all at the same time.

I could have killed that police officer and it all would have happened in a heartbeat.

My life, his life, our families would have forever been changed.

But that's not how the story ended, after all.

Wasn't in the plans for that day.

I simply can't express how happy I am, that the stars and planets also aligned to make sure I slid by him, even if it was ass end sideways, instead of sliding INTO him.

I'm sure he's pretty happy things turned out the way they did, too.

I'm truly sorry Mr. Police Officer.  It wasn't my intention to scare the crap out of you that morning. Thank you for everything you do to keep us safe.

Hope he keeps a change of underwear in his car, just for days like those, and people like me!