Monday, July 20, 2015


By Kate Collins

This past weekend I attended a family reunion at an Indiana State Park deep in the woods of Brown County. We booked rooms at a lodge that had very nice, woodsy-themed accommodations and access to all the activities in the park. And except for the torrential rain Friday and the intense heat Saturday and Sunday, (real feel =
107 °) we had a lovely time. It’s always a joy to see family scattered across the country and catch up with what’s happening in their lives.

One big problem with the weekend: the internet connection was terrible. It ranged from poor to none, and for people who are hooked to their cell phones by an electronic umbilical cord, that caused major distress.

We couldn’t phone each other to coordinate activities.
We couldn’t text.
We couldn’t check email.
We couldn’t post on Facebook or Twitter.
We couldn’t do internet searches to find information on various sites of interest.

Those with Verizon fared a tiny bit better as there was a cell towel somewhere in the area, but we AT&T-ers were out of luck.  Wouldn’t you think someone at AT&T would say, “Hey, that’s a popular vacation area. So maybe we should, like, make our phones work there?”

Sadly no.

If you were a fly on the wall, you would’ve seen a bunch of nervous people anxiously checking their phones for service (one bar was considered a gold mine) every few minutes until the batteries ran out.  Random beeps could be heard every so often and twenty-five people would grab their phones and eagerly search for a message. And then one lucky person would shout, “Eureka! It’s me!” and do a little happy dance, hands waving in the air so everyone could see their lighted screen. Unfortunately, the message was usually three hours old.

I got my brother’s text at 7:20 a.m. He sent it at 11:30 p.m. the night before to let me know he made it safely. My daughter’s text came in while we were having dinner. She was sitting across from me at the time. The message read: “I’ll meet you in the lobby in half an hour.”

Service in the charming town of Nashville was no better. One nice clerk said, “You have AT&T? Oh, I'm sorry.”  Those with Verizon phones suddenly became the “popular kids.”

We actually had to resort to making multiple trips up and down various hallways trying to remember who was in what room and communicating face to face (except for those of us who got the wrong room numbers and frightened random strangers by calling through the door, "Hey, come on down to the lounge. We've got photos of you!"

I apologize if I missed a Facebook post I was tagged in, but would I trade a good connection for this reunion weekend? No way.  In fact, it might have been a blessing. We couldn’t sit around checking our phones during times when we gathered to eat and share family stories. We actually had to interact in person! Oh, the joy of seeing a twinkle in someone’s eye when a funny story was told.

However, now that I’m back home and connected once more, I feel a sense of relief – followed by that familiar feeling of panic at finding a hundred emails to sort through. I don't even want to think about Facebook.

Did I actually miss all that?
Would you feel panic at not having a connection?