I had about a half hour to kill before I needed to pick Lauren up from swim, so I decided to run into Dollar General and pick up some things for the girls’ Easter basket (I know, look at me planning ahead and everything!).
I wandered around, picking up bags of $1 caramel corn and Kit-Kats, nail polish, makeup, bath bombs, etc. When I ran out of time, I headed for the register and, as always seems to happen when you’re in a hurry, there was a problem with the customer ahead of me that was taking some time.
I wasn’t upset about it. I was a cashier for years. I know how hard and thankless it can be. But, the other clerk saw it was taking awhile and opened up his register and called me over.
He looked to be in his late 50s, I guess, and was making conversation as he rang up my items. He told me that he was quite happy to take care of me because he didn’t want to deal with the problems at the other register. It involved some cell phone issue — maybe a pay-as-you-go phone or card.
“I don’t know nothing about them,” he said. “I’m probably the only person in America who doesn’t have cell phone. If someone wants to get a hold of me, they can leave a message for me at home. And, if I want to get back to them, I do. When I want to.”
I smiled and told him that I envied his freedom. I gathered up my bags, my wallet, my car keys and, of course, my cell phone. As I juggled it all to the truck, I thought about life before cell phones. Before social media and 24/7 news. Before notifications and constant interruptions. Before Facebook knew what I bought at Walmart last night.
And, I realized what I really envied was that clerk’s peace. The peace of a cell-phone/social-media free life. I couldn’t imagine managing my life with out it, but there was a time that I did. That we all did.
When I was a teenager, my best friend’s family had a cottage at Findley Lake. Because it was in another state, it was long-distance to call there (I’m not even sure there was a phone there), so when we went to the cottage, we were unreachable. We loved hanging out there because we had complete and total freedom. Our parents had to drive 30 minutes if they wanted to check on us.
Today, parents can track their kids’ movements with an app on their cell phone. I refuse to install one. I think it’s creepy and weird. Kids deserve some autonomy.
And parents deserve a little peace. A little blissful ignorance.
About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”