Cell Tower Melt Down

“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears”  Barbara Johnson

In thirty-six hours, I would be on my way to the airport to catch a plane destined for the Hawaiian islands. I had looked forward to this respite with my husband, but there were two problems that dampened my excitement. First, the list of things to get done before leaving town wasn’t shrinking fast enough. Secondly, cold and flu season had hit hard and seemed to be on a never-ending cycle at our house. I had just recovered from my stint of illness about the time it hit my husband – for the second time. Determined not to fall victim to the viral monster again, I disinfected all surfaces of possible contamination on a daily basis, and to be on the safe side, I abandoned my “chemical free air” motto and saturated our breathing space with an aerosol disinfectant. I gave my husband an arsenal of medicine and quarantined him to our bedroom, while I retreated to set up camp in the upstairs bedroom. Despite my Hazmat efforts, it seemed that my body had once again been infiltrated by “the bug.”

I called my friend, Lisa, who was a fellow mentor mom of a local young mother’s group, and lamented to her about my aching body. The group would be meeting the following morning, and it was my turn to bring a hot dish for breakfast. She listened sympathetically and graciously offered to prepare the casserole and deliver it for me the next morning. I felt the least I could do was bring the ingredients to her door step, so I told her I would drop by after dinner. I had not been to her house before, so she gave me directions and I made a note of it.

The next few hours passed by quickly as I moved at sloth pace to complete my check list. I had already cut the list it in half by asking myself, “If I died today, what items on this list would matter?” But the remaining number of “must do’s” made me groan. The clock struck nine and I still hadn’t dropped off the casserole ingredients. My body felt like it had been hit by a truck, so I swallowed a couple more Ibuprofen tablets and then asked myself, “If I died today, would I care about this list anymore?” After a short contemplation, I picked up a pen and wrote my kids a note. If our plane goes down, hire someone to clean the house, there is grocery money in the attached envelope, you know the rest. I love you!  Then I packed up the casserole ingredients, hopped in my car and headed across town toward Lisa’s house.

It was when I reached the half-way point that I realized that I had left the paper with the house address on my kitchen counter. I growled through clenched teeth. I just wanted to lay my head down on the steering wheel and go to sleep. I put my foot on the brake to slow my car while I contemplating what to do. I knew the general vicinity of where my friend lived, and the thought of turning my car around made me feel like either crying, or saying things I shouldn’t say, so I decided to wing it. Fortunately, my waning memory was able to bring me to the correct street. Great! I would just call her to get her house address. I took my cell phone from my purse to make the call. It was then that I noticed the no service symbol at the top of the lighted screen. I had forgotten that cell service was sparse on that side of town. Ugh! You have got to be kidding me! I shouted and squeezed the phone tightly.

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There are some great advantages of living in a small town that is nestled in the forested foothills. But street lights are few and cell service can be elusive. If you are in a poor service area, you may be lucky and find a sweet spot – if you are patient enough to maneuver your phone around until that one saving bar of service appears on your screen. Then you freeze frame your phone in that position, dial the number and contort your body until you can connect your ear to your phone.

I proceeded to drive slowly down the dark road, while holding my cell phone by my steering wheel and watching for a service bar to pop up. I strained my eyes to see out the side windows of my car, hoping I would find a familiar vehicle parked in front of one of the houses. Nothing. The long road seemed to be taking a gradual decent into the abyss and the space between houses had widened. I groaned. I had to find a sweet spot. So I shifted into reverse and slowly backed up the road, while I waved my phone across the front windshield area. My eyes shifted back and forth from it’s small screen to my rear view mirror. I was almost to the top of the street when a service bar popped up on my screen. I hit the brakes. The bar disappeared. So I shifted into first gear and slowly rolled forward a few feet. The bar popped up and disappeared again. So I shifted into reverse and inched backward. Voila! There it was! I held my cell phone above the steering wheel with clinched fingers, avoiding the smallest increment of movement. Then I reached across my body and pulled the emergency break with my left hand, wishing I would’ve thought to hold my phone in that hand instead of my right. I carefully dialed my friend’s phone number, then un-hooked my seat belt and pushed myself upward, twisting my body and tilting my head toward my phone. I heard a faint beep and the service bar disappeared. This is ridiculous! I shouted at my phone.

Over the next several minutes I repeated the same scenario, verbalizing my utmost frustration. I shouted that I hated small towns with tall pine trees and no street lights. I called my phone names that I would never consider calling people. I was in a state of rapid decline when at the far end of the road I saw something quickly moving in the darkness. It appeared to be bouncing down a slope on the right side and heading straight for the road. I drove slowly toward the moving object, when suddenly in the beam of my headlights I caught sight of my friend who was jumping up and down, waving her arms, as she ran down her long driveway. Apparently, the light from my bouncing cell phone had summoned an S.O.S..

When I pulled along side of her, my entertained friend was laughing. She had seen my entire in-motion saga. Fortunately, it hadn’t come with a sound track. I rolled down my window and admitted that I was going to have to go home and wash my mouth out with soap. She roared with gracious laughter. I shook my head in shame, but couldn’t help but smile. It’s good to have a friend who can withhold judgement and forgive your shortcomings – as well as laugh at your idiosyncrasies.

It’s hard to admit to such poor behavior when I would rather think of myself as one who has mastered patience – and can slay the drama queen despite my circumstances. However, I have found that confession is the first step toward change and it can bring accountability to my actions. I thanked my friend as I handed her the bag of casserole ingredients and then drove away. On the way home, I thanked God for the gift of good friends and for his perfect forbearance despite my daily failures. I also told him that I really didn’t mean it when I said I hated small towns with tall trees and no street lights. I was grateful to live in such a lovely place. But in my heart, I knew that He already knew this, and when my head hit the pillow that night I slept well.

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