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U3A Writing: A Mobile's Tinny Tune

A mobile phone’s tinny tune can seriously affect one’s concentration when buying a new skirt, as Joan Murton discovers. But a mobile phone can be a blessing.

My mobile rang. Wretched thing. Why had I consented to have it ? It intruded every moment. I was perpetually attainable to my family. Today, I had planned some shopping in the Mall, followed by a leisurely and chatty lunch with Beryl. We would then spend an hour or two at a movie. A re-run of ‘Love Story’ promised a good weep.

The first part of the plan had come to fruition. I had reached the Mall. And now that unwelcome tinny tune from my handbag had shattered my concentration. How could I decide between the checked or the plain skirt?

Should I let it ring itself out? If I do, it will tell me there is “one missed call”. Curiosity will get the better of me and I shall have to check to see who it was. I might as well answer it now. On the other hand …

“Is that your phone?” The assistant’s voice made me jump. “Oh, did you hear it?” I asked, replacing the checked skirt on the rack. By the time I had located the mobile in the depths of my handbag, it had stopped.

“Good,’’ I thought, lifting the plain skirt off the rail. But I couldn’t concentrate. How could I make an important decision when half of my mind was wondering which of my family needed me?

I pulled the phone out and looked at its grinning green, luminous face. “As I thought ‘one missed call’. Shall I or shan’t I check? It can’t be Donald, I only left him an

hour ago and he was perfectly OK then. It might be Alison, one of the children might have an emergency.”

I struggled to rid my mind of my responsibilities. This was supposed to be my day off. The family could manage without Granny for one day. I should never have agreed to carry the mobile with me when I go out. But then I remembered the conversation with Alison, “Promise you’ll always take it with you when you go out, Mum,” she had said. “If your car broke down somewhere, what would you do?” “What I’ve done in the past”, I had replied, “Phone for your Dad or Michael, from the nearest call box.”

Alison had given me a pitying look. “We have a couple of spare phones, I want you and Dad to have them,” she argued. She had brought the phones that evening. Our youngest grandchild, ten-year-old Miranda, had shown us how to use them. She had been impressed by the speed with which I had learned to operate mine.

“Sheer extravagance” huffed Donald. Miranda had explained that he had been given her old one. “You see Grandpa, I had to get mine upgraded,” she had told him, waving the tiny purple mobile under his nose, “because my friend, Daisy’s was smaller than my old one. She’s just had hers upgraded, but now she’s mad because my new one is smaller than hers.” She had looked so smug, not at all like my gentle, lovable Miranda.

So that was how Donald and I were dragged into twentyfirst century living.

I had to admit, there had been an occasion when I had been happy to have the convenience of instant connection with base. I had rushed out of the house to the local shop to get mushrooms for the quiche I was making for the Book Club meeting. It was in the shop that I remembered I had left the pan with onions, gently sweating, on the stove. They would have been more than ‘gently sweating’ if I had not had the phone to call Donald and alert him to a possible fire in the kitchen !

Mobiles had their uses, it seemed. But not today. I did not want to be disturbed. But it was too late. Conscience took over. I had to see what the message was.

Up it came. “Mom, Miranda has been sick at school. Her teacher wants her collected. Can you please get her for me? I can’t leave work until lunchtime. I’ll get her from you then. Dad hasn’t switched his mobile on. I suppose he’s watching cricket again. Please let me know how Miranda is.”

That was it then. No more shopping, no lunch with Beryl, no movies.

I hurried out to the carpark and drove to the school. Miranda was in the sick bay. She didn’t look very sick, just a little pale, perhaps. She jumped up and ran to me. “I knew you would come, Grandma,” she cried, throwing her arms around me. “I feel so much better now. Can we go and have an ice cream ?”

What a blessing mobiles are!

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