Strangers in the Night

“1 in 10 [survey respondents] said they’d rather lose their mother-in-law than their cell phone.”

– Leger  Marketing



These days the cellphone seems to be an extension of our very selves. Without it we are lost, but with it we often become oblivious to the world around us. It bothers me to see people so engrossed in their phone screens that they forget about face-to-face communication with the people next to them.

But I, too, have fallen victim to this same indiscretion and hate to admit how dependent I have become on my iPhone. As much as I decry the invasion of cellphones into every aspect of our lives, I must admit that this same device has also given me much peace of mind. However, it might not be in the manner you think.

Our farm home is situated close to a main highway and the visibility of our yard light at night acts as a beacon to those in distress. When we first moved here in the early 1980’s, it was not uncommon to be awakened late at night or in the wee hours of the morning by someone seeking assistance. If it wasn’t a flat tire, then someone had run out of gas or had become stuck in a snowbank or the ditch. Quite often it was someone we knew from town or the neighbourhood, but other times a complete stranger would show up on our doorstep.

On one occasion I awoke to the ringing of our doorbell late, late at night. Since I am a light sleeper, I was down the stairs before my husband even realized I was up and gone. Before I opened the door, I cautiously looked through the peephole only to find two local fellows standing there. It was a cold, wintery night so I quickly opened the door and invited them inside.

“Hi, guys! What are you doing way out here at this time of night?” I asked.

“Well, we ran out of gas and were wondering if we could get some from you,” the one fellow explained.

“No problem, I’ll get Ken,” I responded, and quickly ran up the stairs to get my husband to help out.

“Darcy and Donnie are downstairs and need some gas. You’d better go help them out.”

I crawled back into my warm bed while my husband got dressed and headed out to the shop. A little while later he returned with a funny look on his face while quizzically asking, “Who did you say was at the door?”

“Darcy and Don. Why?” I questioned.

Then my husband sighed (you know, one of those exasperated sighs) before replying, “Gail, I have never seen those fellows before in my life, but they were very impressed with your friendliness.”

That’s the great thing about cell phones – stranded motorists don’t have to trudge to the nearest farmyard to wake up neighbours or complete strangers to get help. They can simply call a friend or a family member or CAA. And farm women don’t make the mistake of opening their doors to the unknown.

Since the arrival and widespread use of cellphones very few people now show up on our doorstep looking for assistance. And if they do, I am sure to put on my glasses before checking to see who’s out there. That way I’m not inviting some wayward axe murderer into my home!


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