I lived in San Francisco when the 89 Loma Prieta quake shook Northern Califotrnia. Those few seconds forever reshaped my life. Most of us then still has landlines and cordless phones was tbe norm. Within seconds. the city was without power. Being a person who never throws away anything, we found our old our low tech phones and they worked . If you had a cordless home phone, you were out of luck.
For nearly three weeks my Cow Hollow neighborhood was without power but our phones worked. The evening of the quake we drove out to a packed Walgreens in the Westlake Shopping Center in Daly City. Most of the flashlights we gone. desperate shoppers grabbed any flashlight they could, only to realize in line,they where the rechargeable type with a plug on the end . There was a run on the D and C cell batteries. My son and I saw a silent tug of war for the last D cell battery in the store.
From that moment forward, I avoided any C or D cell flashlight. I wouldn’t consider a home with an electric stove. Today I have at least a dozen of those gun type lighters you find at the dollar stores. I have enough candles to light a church, a landline phone and a corded (yes the still make those) phone. I still remember seeing people in the traffic jam of the century on Lombard Street as the Golden Gate Bridge was the only way to the East Bay after a section of the Bay Bridge collapsed. Images of men and woman crying on their cells, unable to make a call because of fallen cell towers.
The world has changed, address books, phone number books, daytimers are becoming relics of an different time. Today many of us Scroll, or asked your electronic assistant on your smartphone.. For many of us memory is a chip, it’s no longer a section of the brain to store numbers, addresses and birthdays.
Do you know your aunt telephone number? Call you recite your brothers? How bought your husband’s /wifes work number? I bet your grandma’s know or has the number written in her ultra low tech address book.
Meet my friend Jenn, she is the ultra techno geek, I-phone, I pad, a nook, an electronic this or that. She subscribes to several electronic magazines and at one point proudly called herself the ultimate Technogeek. Her fingers are always a few inches away from an electronic device. She rarely carries cash its swipe and go Three years ago she met her husband online, it was love at first Skype.
A few months ago Jenn planned a big adventure, a drive from Berkeley to Boise, Idaho to visit a friend. It was her first trip since relocating from NYC and her first trip without her husband. Boise is about a 16 hour drive from the Bay. GPS was set, as were the locations for gas stations, restaurants and other places of interest, places she might stop along the way. She filled up in Reno and again in Winnamucca, Nevada as there were few gas stations on US 95 between Winnamucca and Boise.
About an hour outside of Winnamucca something seemed off with the car.. She called husband who said to take it to the nearest BMW dealer but the nearest BMW dealer was in Reno or Boise. The call dropped, she tried to redial and after several attempts, she realized she was out of bars. So she reached into her console for her other phone which was fully charged cell on a different carrier, it too was barless.
After a few miles the BMW started sputtering and losing speed. She pulled to the side of the road and turned on her emergency flashes. Too early to panic, she kept trying her phones. At one point she took out her I-pad and started playing a game to past the time, periodically checking her phone. At one point shed drifted off to sleep and was awakened by a man tapping on her windows asking if she needed help? The man has a long white beard and his looks freaked her out. No I’m fine, she lifted up her phone and said help was coming. He nodded his head and left.
After a few hours the emergency flashes seemed to be struggling, When she turned the ignition, the lights were dim. She had been on the side of the road for nearly three hours. Now is the time to panick she said to herself. One of the phones died. On the other phone she dialed 911,611, The big trucks rocked her car as they passed by. What if that scary man comes back she thought to herself and started to cry.
It was hot in the car and now with a dead battery the windows weren’t working. she was afraid to open the door so she sat, only opening the door every now and them to cool the car. She told her girlfriend she would be in Boise at 6. Every few minutes she would try the phone .
A knock on the window, awaked her, she had drifted off to sleep, are you alright, its was an officer. No, I’m not alright. my car stopped and I’ve been here for hours. , are you out of gas, he asked? No…. I can call at tow company. Am I In Nevada or Idaho? Oregon he said. Is there a hotel nearby? No, there isn’t much out here. I can take you to our station about 45 minutes from here. Thank you,she said as she looked down at her phone. During the drive she kept dialing her girlfriend. The phone started to ring… Hey its Jenn, I think my battery is about to go out, I am on 95 in Oregon and something is wrong with my car… The Oregon State Police is taking me to the office near Hordon Valley, (“Jordan” the officer corrects her), we will come get you, her girlfriend’s replies, oh thank you…. We will call you when we are on our way. Jenn quickly dials her husbands cell phone, which goes into voice mail….. ah his phone is off or dead she says to herself.
Just as they where pulling into the parking lot, her phone dies.
You can use the phone inside the office, the officer tell her. Once inside, she realized she’d left her bag with all the recharging cods in the BMW. Jenn knew five telephone numbers. she knew her office number, her cell number, her husbands office and cell numbers. the numbers to the local Chinese restaurant.
Her girlfriend picked her up and drove her to Boise.
The Boise experience had an affect of her. she didn’t realized how she relied on her electronic devices until they weren’t available. Her mother and grandmother never left the house without their address books. In those books was a complete history’s in pencil….Phone numbers to school’s, Doctors, Dentist, birth dates, anniversaries. Jenn mom’s book was over 30 years old.
This experience has forever changed Jenn. Afraid to make the drive alone, her husband flew into Boise and the two drove back to Berkeley. She has an old fashion phone book today, (yes they still make them) with addresses. Copies of her telephone numbers and addresses can now be found in her car and her husband car. She has memorized her mothers and other telephone numbers. and she writes letters, she said read some where writing stimulates the memory.
Today, Jenn still loves her electronics, the I-pad is a constant companion., she still has two cell phones. and I suspect she will have the new I-phone. She has just ordered an 900 dollar remote control that (according to her) is a must have.. What she is isn’t totally depended on her electronics.