Archive for March, 2011

Fun with Cell Phones

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I have well documented issues with power tools.  The bane of John’s existence seems to be cell phones.  Misplacing his phone and expecting me to help him find it is mildly irritating.  Not answering it when I call is a bit higher on the annoy-o-meter and makes me question why we pay for service each month.  However, taking it for a swim pushes me over the edge!  Now before you say, “Come on, that can happen to anyone,” let me say that I agree whole-heartedly with that statement.  However, I have to draw the line when it happens for the FOURTH time.

The first two times he took his cell phone for a dip I was pretty understanding as he was trying to save a drowning dog.  By the way, he is one for one in that department.  Well, actually two for three, but one of the two dogs he saved fell through the ice near the pond bank so he didn’t actually have to get in the water to pull her out.  The urgent nature of those situations made not emptying his pockets understandable, but that history alone would cause most people to do a quick mental inventory of pocket contents before taking the plunge.  Please note the use of the words “most people” as previous blogs have established John in a category he alone inhabits!  The other two telecom disasters have resulted from wading in the water to fish without emptying his pockets.

His most recent escapade occurred on a trip to Corpus Christi last week to do some ocean fishing.  He called me on his friend’s cell phone to tell me his phone had “quit working.”  When pressed for details about the phone’s demise, he reluctantly admitted what he’d done.  I didn’t say much, but I’m sure he could hear the incredulous tone in my voice as I asked how he could have possibly drowned his phone…AGAIN!! His only defense was that it had been over a year since the last time he’d put a phone in the drink. That flimsy excuse really didn’t need a response, but I did remind him that I’d owned a cell phone the same amount of time he had and so far I had managed to avoid a submersion. He replied that I always had on a swimming suit when I went in the water, and they didn’t have pockets. Yeah, that’s the main difference between his experiences and mine–no pockets!

When he got home a few days later, he remembered a detail that he felt gave him full vindication–cell phone insurance. He wasn’t positive he’d taken out coverage, but he thought given his track record, it would be a logical thing to do. He called me from the cell phone store this morning with what I thought was a bizarre question, but I’m sure to him there was some ambiguity about the proper course of action. He did have cell phone insurance that would replace his existing phone without charge, or he could spend $100 and upgrade to a water resistant model. He shared the information questioningly, as if I had a decision to make. I asked him how much the insurance was a month. He said we had been paying $5 for the last 18 months. I asked him how spending $90 on insurance and then not using it to get the phone replaced made any sense. That would make the new phone cost $190 rather than the $90 we had already spent on the insurance. I suggested that he use the insurance to get his existing phone replaced, drop the insurance coverage, and upgrade to a water resistant phone the next time his gets dunked. The really sad thing is that he didn’t argue with me and say there wouldn’t be a NEXT time because we all love to have fun with cell phones!

Crossing the Line, Chicago Style

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

After Seth’s altercation as a 2nd grader, he had to wait 15 years before anyone else crossed the line with him.  Unfortunately, this time the odds were stacked heavily against him, and the outcome wasn’t quite as successful.  Around 3:00 p.m. he was in the middle of his daily hour long commute home from his classes at the University of Chicago.  He was doing homework on his iPad that he purchased specifically to maximize productivity during his extended time on public transportation.  As the train pulled into one of the numerous stops on the line, he failed to look up from his seat by the door of the car.  Five young men exited the train, and the last of the group reached down and grabbed the iPad from Seth’s hand.  It’s impossible to know whether the action was spontaneous or planned, but regardless of the strategy, Seth’s quick response was probably not a consideration.

I’m sure Seth’s slight build and studious nature wouldn’t create the expectation that he would do anything to defend his possessions beyond shouting at the thieves which would have been the prudent response.  In this case, instinct overshadowed intellect and he grabbed the culprit by his shoulder and pulled the iPad from his hands.  Since the would-be thief was exiting from the train, his momentum pulled Seth onto the train platform where he suddenly found himself surrounded by the “Fab Five” who were none to happy that he had resisted.  As the first punch split his lip, he dropped to the ground to retrieve the iPad, cradling it beneath him as his assailants tried to pull it away.  Fortunately, the security cameras in the area kept the punching and kicking that followed to a minimum or his injuries might have been serious.  The worst damage was done to his faith in humanity as the 20 plus people on the platform and the occupants of the train car stood by watching the beating without as much as a shout of disapproval even though Seth yelled repeatedly for help.  The only positive outcome was the fact that the spectators on the train were blocking the door, so it didn’t leave without him.  After the thugs moved on, he got back on the train, found a police station at the next stop where he filed a report, and allowed the officers to call an ambulance so he could get checked out in the ER.

He did a pretty good job making the phone call to me as his first words were to reassure me that he was okay with only the split lip, a black eye, and numerous contusions being the full extent of his injuries.  We have discussed the incident at length on numerous occasions and he thinks his fight record is 1-1 since he took a pretty good beating without landing a punch himself.  I contend that he is 2-0 since the odds were 5 against 1, and they didn’t get the iPad.  Either way he’s not destined for the UFC!  After discussing several alternate outcomes for the incident, I hope he will have a more thoughtful response in the future if anyone ever crosses the line, Chicago style.

Crossing the Line

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Our youngest child, Seth, has always been pretty laid back.  It might be due, in part, to the fact that his brother and sister are several years older so by the time he was big enough to get into mischief, they were no longer living at home.  When you have one child remaining in the nest, it doesn’t take a CSI to figure out who broke the lamp or made the mess in the kitchen.  Well, okay, the mess in the kitchen might have been his dad, but most of the time I could tell.  However, even a pacifist has limits, and on at least two occasions, somebody crossed Seth’s line.

He was in second grade when Seth first learned there were limits to what his non-violent nature would tolerate. He came home from school complaining about an older student bullying him on the playground. I ran through the usual parental litany of peaceful resolutions, and he shot down every one.

“I can’t tell the teacher because she will say I’m tattling.”
“I’ve asked him nicely to stop, and he just laughs and pushes me down.”
“I’ve tried avoiding him, but he seems to find me somehow.”

After a couple of weeks of listening to him go on and on about the innate unfairness of the world in general and the atrocities of public school playgrounds specifically, I finally lost my cool and told him I thought it was time to take action and punch the bully in the face. With a look of shock and dismay, Seth informed me that was not a viable option as fighting would land him in the principal’s office. I said, “Sometimes there are things worth fighting for, and if you have to do some time in the principal’s office for defending yourself, you won’t be in trouble at home.” Keep in mind this was circa 1994 and inflexible, no-tolerance policies on fighting in schools were not yet in place and bullying awareness and prevention were still about a decade away. Given the threat of suspension, I might have opted for a different approach, but I continued saying, “Everyone has a line in the sand, and when this kid crosses it, you will know what to do.”

Scarcely a week passed before Seth literally burst into the living room with the words spilling from his lips, “Mom, Mom, I know what you mean about that LINE thing.” He then recounted how he had tried to walk away from the bully on the playground that day only to be hit in the back by the cowardly miscreant.

“Before I even realized what I was doing, I turned around and hit him in the face, and he fell down,” he shouted.

“What happened next?” I asked feeling sure his punch hadn’t incapacitated the kid.

“Nothing. He just sat on the ground so I left.”

“What did the teacher do?” I asked.

“Nothing. I guess she didn’t see what happened.”

That pretty much ended his problems with the bully, and Seth learned two very valuable lessons. Everyone has an imaginary line that sets a limit for what they will endure physically, mentally or emotionally in any situation. He also learned that sometimes teachers don’t have very good eyesight when they know a kid has crossed the line.

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