Saturday, October 08, 2011

Bought Madeleina a Cell Phone Today

Well, against my wishes, I bought my daughter, Madeleina, a cell phone today. Just a throw-away that's to be used in emergencies. With a card that gives her five minutes a day for 60 days. That's 300 minutes, total, for two months. I'm not a fan of cell phones and don't have one and am always hard-pressed to use one when it's handed to me. Not that they don't have their utility: Now that every stinking pay phone in the world has disappeared, having a cell phone when you get a flat on the highway is a good thing. Or when your plane has been diverted to another city and you know people are going to drive two hours to pick you up.
So I recognize wonderful value there.
On the other hand, as a driver in Texas who has to work to avoid having half-a-dozen wrecks a day because people are driving with their knees while talking, calling, texting....well, I don't think they're cool. And to listen to people in the supermarket talk to someone somewhere else about, "Well, the Coke isn't as cold as the Pepsi, so would you rather...?" or "I'm here, hon. I'm one aisle away from where I was when you called me a minute ago...I didn't get to the eggs yet..."
Okay, so I'm old school and a Luddite but if anyone ever asked me those questions, well, I guess I'd have to stop talking with them.
Now, because I don't have a cell phone, when I approach someone and it's sort of an airport or flat tire emergency, I generally ask if they'll allow me to use their cell phone for $10. Most people say yes, cause that's nice pay for a local call. And I don't mind paying it. I don't want to be a mooch.
My daughter, on the other hand, with band, has to sometimes call to say she's going to be back at the school at 1 AM, not midnight, and so I generally try to have her have a couple of bucks at the ready for when she borrows someone else's cell phone to make that call.
But then last night happened. Last night started early, about 8 AM. Chepa was leaving to see her boyfriend--father of Sierra and Alexa, who now lives in Amarillo. Madeleina had an early day off, about noon, but then a 4 hour marching band practice, then a change into uniform, then a football game. Which meant she'd be getting off about midnight. (I am livid at the idea that the band can make freshmen in high school stay till 8 PM twice a week, then have those kids pull a 16 hour Friday, every Friday during football season, and then, like today, about every three weeks have them return to school on Saturday at 9 AM for band contests that last till 11 PM. That's a 12 hour day Thursday followed by a 16-hour day Friday, followed by a 14-hour day Saturday--all for a lousy high school credit. Hell, I was a star writer and decent athlete and in every play my high school put on while I was there and never never got home past about 6 PM--enough time to hold down a 24 hour a week job to pay for high school and still get my work done.)
Sorry for the rant. Back to the story.
So yesterday morning I told Madeleina to get a ride from her friend Sierra, who lives about 2 miles away and who stays her now and then for an over night sleepover. Madeleina said she was embarrassed to ask. I reminded her that I get up at 5 AM and generally am asleep by 9:30, so if she wanted me to pick her up she'd have to call repeatedly until I woke up.
She said she couldn't borrow a cell phone to make 20 repeated calls.
I told her to call her brother Italo to pick her up.
She said she'd try to get a ride with her friend Sierra.
But while I might be the worst dad, I thought I'd better stay sober and be ready to drive when the call came, if it came. And if it didn't and Sierra's parents brought Madeleina home, then I should at least meet them in the driveway to keep Boots from biting them.
So 9 PM passed and I started watching All about the Benjamins. Then 11 came and something else came on. Then it was midnight and I called Italo and asked him if Madeleina had called him. He said no. I asked how the fuck a high school football game that started at 7 PM could still be going on at midnight? He had no Idea.
At about 12:30 I drank water, washed my face and drove to Madeleina's high school. Not a whisper in the parking lot.
At about 2 AM I drove there again. I mean, it was possible she'd gone with Sierra (a different one than her sister Sierra) to her home to sleep and simply didn't call--that would have been gutsy but not past Madeleina to do that. I drove all over that school, looking for a little lost girl but found none.
At about 3:30 I slept for an hour, trying to reassure myself that she must have gone to her girlfriend's home.
That worked till about 4:30. Then I was up and drinking coffee.
At 6, still dark, I went back to bed and slept till 6:30. Then I was up for good.
At 8 AM there was a phone call. It was from the local Brookshires' grocery store, on their house line. It was Madeleina.
"Dad, I'm at Brookshires. Can you come and pick me up?"
"Sure. Where were you last night? Why didn't you call?"
"I slept in a doorway at school. I knew you wouldn't pick me up and I didn't want to bother Italo and Sierra never came to the game and nobody gave me a ride so I slept at the school."
I flew out the door and picked her up.
I was totally freaked out, could hardly breathe, was angry at her for not calling anyone but still seeing my baby trying to tough it out in a doorway and probably being scared to death all night. I was yelling and I was crying all the way to picking her up. I was guilty, I was sad, I was thinking of being her, not me, at 14, thinking you've been abandoned and sleeping in that doorway. And I was angry that she hadn't even tried to call Italo or I.
So I guess she was brave, then scared and finally, when the sun rose, walked the mile to the supermarket and made the call. And I'm happy she's okay. No, I was so freaking happy that she was okay that I almost killed her for being so freaking selfish that she didn't make a phone call to me because she thought I would be sleeping instead of staying awake to take care of her.
And then today, having put the three stories due last week to bed after rewrite, I just tried to sleep. I couldn't but tried. And then I walked a fast mile to get my blood moving and went to Walmart and bought Madeleina her emergency cell phone. Now she can call me 20 times to wake me up.
Cause while I know she's tough enough to handle sleeping in a doorway, and while I know she's seen me do it, or sleep in a cemetery, that's not necessarily what I want for that perfect little girl.
I'm glad she had an adventure, but it almost killed me.

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