Between the summer clearance sales and the back-to-school sales this is a great time of year for shopping. So when a trip to one of the great malls to the south was proposed, I jumped at the chance.
It was on a Saturday, and the primary reason for the journey was a pee-wee football game, but the teen-aged sisters had opted to shop while their brother played. The parents had to go to the game, but the grandma could go shopping with the teens.
The first skirmish began as we pulled away from their house. Everyone but the youngest agreed he should be on the back bench seat in the van. He wanted the bucket seat beside Grandma. I really couldn’t object to that, but I could see that his moving to the back would provide a better balance of posteriors.
By the time we got to the filling station, the decibel level of the discussion had risen considerably.
It was clear to me that none of the logical arguments were going to move him, so I adopted acceptable grandmother strategy. “Hey, if you move to the back, I’ll give you a dollar.”
No sooner said than done as he moved easily to the back and his brother in full football gear slipped into the seat beside me.
Then his mother said with disapproval, “I heard that! I don’t want to drive, but if you give me $100 I will.”
This time I adopted normal Mom strategy. “You are my kid. I don’t pay my kids for doing what they’re supposed to do. So shut up and drive.”
I got her point, but it was fairly peaceful after he moved.
When we arrived at the mall, their mother gave the girls a cell phone, and as an afterthought, two walkie-talkies. “Give one of these to Grandma, and show her how to use it,” she instructed them.
It made sense to them, but as you know, although I am not technologically deprived, I am somewhat technologically handicapped. When I grew up we did not have to have a hearing device permanently attached to our bodies unless it was a hearing aid for the elderly.
We have considered cell phones from time to time, and agree they are great for emergency communications. But we have opted for the freedom from phones that traveling in the car affords us. Therefore, I am not familiar with the operation of these modern conveniences.
The girls did their duty and explained. I figured all I needed to know was how to answer if they called me and how to call them. It seemed simple enough. I tucked the walkie-talkie into my purse, and opened the handy-dandy shopping tote on wheels I’d won years ago but never used. I was ready for shopping.
The girls regarded my shopping tote with obvious disdain and said, “Why did you bring that suitcase along?”
“So the shopping bags won’t cut my hands,” I replied. “And don’t ring this phone thing unless you need to. No funny calls.” They went their way and I went mine after we agreed to meet at the food court later.
Shortly before the appointed time I wheeled my shopping tote and dragged myself into the food court. I looked around at the various food offerings and chose the closest one.
As I waited in line, I heard the annoying repeated ring of a cell phone. It occurred to me that if someone were going to carry one of those things with them the least they could do is answer if it rang. By the time I figured out it was mine, it had stopped ringing.
When I finally sat down at a table, I found the walkie-talkie, and after some trial and error, I managed to contact them. (You have to take your finger off the talk button to hear the other guy.) They were on the other side of the food court, but they found me.
Then their mother called to tell us where to meet her, and we did. I guess these modern devices are really great — for others.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Aug. 25, 2004.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.