“It’s time for dinner!,” yelled Bob. He fixed a wonderful pot of spaghetti with a side of garlic bread, and a fresh garden salad. He set the dinner plates at the table, and there was no sign of anyone. He yelled again, “Dinner, come and get it!” He heard no reply, so he walked over to the family room and found his wife Julie busy texting away on her phone. “Julie, where is everyone, didn’t you hear me calling?”
Julie looked up at Bob with an annoyed expression, as if he was disturbing her. She managed to say, “If you want our attention, you have to send us a text.” She then turned her attention back to her phone. Bob thought this was insane. He walked over to the stairs, and called up to his two teenage daughters, “Dinner’s ready girls. Come and get it while it’s hot!” He waited for a moment, and heard no reply.
Julie looked over at him and said, “I told you, if you want our attention you have to text us.” Frustrated, Bob sat down at the table by himself and pulled out his phone from his pocket. He sent a text message out to Julie and his two daughters, Jill and Sue. After about ten minutes they all came to the dinner table to eat. Bob watched as they got their plates, and sat down to eat.
“How was everyone’s day?” he asked. Without saying a word, they all turned their attention back to their phones. “I suppose I have to text that as well, huh?” replied Bob. This is getting out of hand. Bob thought, we used to be so close. Every night we would sit together as a family and talk about how our days went. Now all they want to do is stay on those damn phones. I need to do something about this. Just then Bob had an idea. It hit him like a ton of bricks, and he wondered why he didn’t think of it before.
He realized that he couldn’t get their attention by talking to them. So, he got up from the dinner table and turned off the Wi-Fi to the entire home. As soon as he did this he could hear screaming and yelling coming from the dining room. He ran back, and heard Jill and Sue say simultaneously, “What happened to our signal!! Our lives are over!” Julie being a little more dramatic yelled at Bob, “Did you turn off the Wi-Fi? You know I have to be socially relevant!”
Bob had to yell back at them to get their attention. “Settle down! Today, I am putting my foot down.” He looked at them and saw looks of utter shock, because Bob was a very reserved person and slow to anger. “I can’t believe how out of touch we have become. Technology has undermined our ability to even talk to each other.” Julie and the girls looked at him with utter distaste, like someone who had just tasted a piece of sour candy.
Bob continued, “I’ve decided to take us all on a family vacation, so that we can rebuild our family relationship.” Just then everyone started to jump up and down with excitement. “Where are we going?” replied Julie. “Disneyland, Las Vegas, Paris?” The locations kept on rolling out. Bob had to wait while they all settled down. He then said, “We are all going to go to my Grandfather's cabin way out in Alaska. I haven’t been there since I was a kid, but I think it will bring us all together again.” He watched as all happiness drained from their faces. After a moment of silence they said simultaneously, “As long as there is a good signal up there, we don’t care!”
Bob said, “Get your stuff packed because we are leaving tomorrow.” He smiled at them, and walked away to turn the Wi-Fi back on. He thought to himself. They are all in for a big surprise. There is no electricity, Wi-Fi, internet, phone service, and no indoor plumbing. This will teach them all a lesson. Living without these things for a couple of days, will make them appreciate what they have, and will bring us together as a family again.
The next morning, they all got up early and headed out to Alaska. When they got there, they saw about twelve feet of snow that was just plowed through the roadway up to Bob’s Grandfather’s secluded cabin. They all marveled at the snow that was so high on both sides of them. They couldn’t see anything but snow. After a few hours, they had finally arrived at the cabin.
They got out of the car and looked at the old cabin. “Is this place safe Dad?” asked Jill. “Yes it is. My Grandfather built this place with his bare hands. Now grab your stuff and let’s go in.” They all grabbed their suitcases and proceeded to go into the cabin. As Bob opened the door, a flock of bats flew out and knocked them all to the ground. Kicking and screaming the girls ran back to the car.
“We are not staying here!” they yelled. Julie agreed with the girls. Bob said, “Stay here. I’ll go in and check it out.” After a few minutes, Bob ran out to the sound of more screaming. He looked around and saw nothing wrong. “What’s wrong with you guys?” He listened as Julie started to rage at him, yelling, “There is no signal on our phones!! Where the hell did you bring us to?”
Bob started to laugh and said, “This was the whole point. I thought if I brought you out here, we could be a real family again. Without the technology that holds us apart.” Sue suddenly screamed out, “You knew this place didn’t have a signal?” Smiling bob said, “Yes I did. I think it will do you all some good.”
After much debate, Bob had convinced them to at least give it a try. When they all went inside the cabin they came upon another surprise. No electricity, water, or anything of great use that one would find in a normal everyday house. Bob had built a fire in the fireplace, and the rest of that first night was filled with yelling and never ending arguments.
The next day, Julie and the girls were so mad at Bob they didn’t say a word to him. Bob thought to himself. This was supposed to bring us together. Instead nothing has changed, they still won’t talk to me. I remember way back to my childhood, we all came together to tell stories by the fireplace, play board games, and we all had a good time together. Times have most certainly changed. I need to make this right.
“I’m sorry about all of this, let’s go home.” Julie and the girls were elated. Their suitcases were never unpacked, so they were already ready to leave. Feeling disappointed, Bob drove away from the old cabin. Grandad would have been so disappointed in me that I couldn’t bring the family together. He always had a gift to make people come together. Of course, he didn’t have to worry about everyone having phones attached to their hands all the time either, Bob thought.
The journey home took longer than expected due to the weather. A snow storm was passing and they got stuck behind heavy traffic. Julie and the girls didn’t notice because as soon as they got signals back on their phones, they were fine. When they got home, the only thing that Julie said was, “I’m going to make sure this never happens again. Do you understand me Bob!?” He looked surprised, but didn’t realize how mad they would be. Whenever the girls looked at him, their faces were filled with hate.
They spent the rest of that day apart from each other. Bob sat alone in his office, and he noticed that Julie and the girls had left for a while. When they got back, they all seemed very happy, and Bob thought they went shopping. They probably bought the new phone that just came out this week, Bob thought. Well, as long as they're happy, that’s all that matters.
After a sleepless night, Bob got out of bed and went down for his morning breakfast. He came to a sudden halt when he saw some papers on the dining room table. He took his time reading over them. They were divorce papers, and he couldn’t believe it. Bob looked up with his eyes wide open, and a dumbfounded look on his face. “Honey!!! We need to have a talk!!”
Daniel R. Hayes