Jenn and her electronic quake

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.


Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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