No Signal Tonight

By Cody S. Decker

Batten down the hatches, folks.  Lock up your kids and run to the store.  Buy all the milk, eggs, and bread that you can snatch off the shelves or swipe from the scooter-buggy haulin’ around the old lady that ain’t fast enough to catch up to you.  The end must be nigh.  Cell service here in Lexington, KY was a no-show for about four hours and you should have seen the madness that ensued.  You would have laughed.  Or you may have cried, depending on your tolerance for lunacy.  I was at work when travesty struck.  Thank God I wasn’t off the clock where every waking minute of my existence is spent on the dependency of cellular technology.  Or I would have shit my britches.

I was minding my own business, shelving the latest John Grisham novel in our Mystery section at the bookstore when a crazed woman with frazzled hair and a stench that howled at the nostrils came running up to me.

“Is yer phone werkin’?”

“I don’t know, ma’am.  Are you ok?”

“My phone ain’t been sendin’ messages for like an hour.  Neither has my Uncle Tom’s.  Is yours messed up, too?”

“I’m not sure.  Let me check.  Again… are you ok?”

“I’m good, honey…is it werkin’?”

“Um…nope.  Doesn’t look like mine is working either.  I wouldn’t worry about it, I’m sure they’ll have it up and running before too awful long.”

“Lord have mercy!!!  The terrorists!!! They’ve taken our phones!!”


She was gone before I could try to console her with any kind of reasonable thought.   Hair flowing in the little bit of wind that her frantic and wobbly sprint could muster up.  I didn’t think much of my interaction with the lady,  I work with the public.  Where every day is a toss-up between sanity and reason.  So…I went on about my way.  Shelving books and wrestling with the idea of quitting and the sore realization that I can’t.

I tried to shift my mind toward some happy thoughts but it was difficult.  I kept hearing murmurings from different people passing by:

“My phone ain’t working!”

“I’m goin’ to AT&T and seein’ what’s wrong!”

“I finally paid my bill…what the hell?!?!”

“Oh. My. God.  I can’t text or call ANYONE!!!!  What is wrong? Fix it, daddy!!!”

I couldn’t help but shudder and chuckle at the same time.  Is this what we’ve become?  So reliant on technological communication through social media or a voice behind a screen that we can’t fathom the thought of surviving without it for an hour or two?  Good Lord, I know I’m only 25 but I can remember a time when text messaging was only used by those who could afford a fancy cell phone plan.  Most of us didn’t give a rat’s ass.  If we had a phone, cool.  If not, oh well.  We knew where our friends would be if we wanted to see them.  We didn’t need the shit we have today.

So much for a happy thought for humanity….

The outage lasted throughout the rest of my work day, but I wasn’t going to let that keep me from unwinding after an eleven-hour shift.  It was Tuesday.  And on Tuesdays, Applebee’s offers their wings at a steal.  Fifty cents per wing.  Not to mention two dollar Brewtus size PBRs.  My night was planned.  To hell with phone service.

My girlfriend and I pulled into the parking lot and hopped out of the car, ready to get our grub on.  As we walked closer to the door, a couple of misfits hovering around the ashtray outside started to hoot and holler.

“WOOOO!!! I got service!”

“Me too!  Shit.  Kyle texted me and I didn’t get to text him back.  Fuckin’ AT&T!!!”

I shook my head and walked on.  As we opened the door I expected to see the normal type of loud and rowdy crowd that I’m used to seeing at Applebee’s on a Tuesday evening.  But it was silent.  Somewhat eery, actually.  The cell phone resurrection had occurred and I wasn’t ready.  Heads were down, fingers were in a frenzy, and we ended up having to seat ourselves because the hostess was too busy texting her bae.

We sat and hoped to place a drink order before happy hour ended, which didn’t seem was going to happen.  I could see back into the kitchen and even the cook had one hand on a deep fryer and the other on his cell.  I started to lose hope for us tonight, for us all.

I was about to suggest we get up and leave when I felt my pocket buzz.  I pulled my phone out and saw that I had just received an email with a coupon for Applebee’s.  “Buy one entree get an appetizer free”.

I smiled and decided to wait it out.