Before I left the house I emailed off the recipes for Saturday’s cooking demo to the printer, published a post, and answered several emails in the three accounts. My day really started at the farm with my friend. When I stepped out of the car the ice was thick below my feet, the sun was weak and the chickens were busy in the yard. I carried only my car keys into their house.
For the next three and a half hours, communication took the form of gentle touch, smiles, face-to-face talking, and the occasional trill of the house phone. He and his wife gave me the time to just slow down and I hope I gave them some respite. I didn’t “check” anything but the time. My fingers never touched a screen or keyboard but touched skin and food and life.
Getting back into my car, I dialed to confirm lunch with an old friend. As we sat in the café, voices bounced off the walls and floor in a raucous symphony. Yes, it was noisy but we had so much to catch up about we hardly noticed. Late in the meal, she was relating a story of a recent holiday dinner. She and her husband joined three couples of recent acquaintance – a sort of neighborhood gathering. They met at a local restaurant and the chatter was lively between the six. A slim black phone vibrated on the edge of the table. One of the women picked it up and immediately bent her head, frantically texting. Sue, my friend, then noticed there were cell phones next to each person’s place setting. As if the ice had broken, the other diners fell from the conversation. one-by-one the succumbing to the devices. Sue looked at her husband in disbelief.
It became clear the three couples all had similar aged kids who were texting their parents with “plans” and the parents were not only weighing in on their own kids’ texts but also texting each other’s kids! Sue looked at me in disbelief as she described her realization that these couples were roughly 15 years her junior. Like the little old women we used to heckle, Sue and I cackled over the poor manners, not to mention lack of parenting skills exhibited.
After lunch I stopped at the bookstore, searching for a birthday present for Hanni. So many words, so much to say and glorious photography to go with them. Books about everything and nothing I ever wanted to know. Business was pleasingly brisk and I was tempted to add a layer to my teetering tower of reading material next to the bed.
My last stop was the car dealership for an oil change. I sat in the customer lounge with three other patrons. The woman sat reading a novel, one I had just seen at the book store. To her left, a man was intent on a recent news magazine and the young fellow to my right was sitting with his eyes closed listening to music. I honestly couldn’t tell you what exactly was playing, it wasn’t screaming out of his earphones; but if I listened carefully I could tell it was classical. I felt oddly rude when I opened my laptop to write. So rude, in fact, that I didn’t allow myself to check email or social media. I just wrote. I wrote and thought long and hard about communication…
Forty-six years ago communication meant something very different.
On March 10, 1969 Led Zeppelin released Communication Breakdown as the “B” side of the 45 for “Good Times Bad Times”
It’s always the same
Having a nervous breakdown
Drive me insane
Writing, talking, reading, singing…have we lost these fine arts?