Mobile phones – like them or loathe them they are everywhere. But do you remember life without them?
Ah yes, the good old days when we sat down to meals without photographing them first, wrote actual letters with all of the words fully spelled out and even included grammar, and made actual plans to meet in a particular spot at a specific time. You knew exactly what time you were expected to turn up and exactly where. Of course this had its drawbacks. If you arrived first you had to wait for ages just in case the other person had been delayed. And if you were running late you had no way of letting them know you were stuck just because your dart had stopped for no good reason for twenty minutes on the bridge halfway between Connolly and Tara Street.
The ease with which we make our plans now hit home last year when I brought my twins on their first ever flights from Dublin to London. We were planning to hire a car and make the two-hour drive to see my dad and his wife, stopping off to visit a friend on the way. Of course I said I’d text them all when we were on the way so they would know when to expect us. My husband was working in Munich that week and I told him I would text once we got to London. Promises promises…
Ever tried travelling with young kids? There are a lot of things to juggle. I managed to remember to bring everything with us, passports, boarding passes, car park voucher, car hire voucher, driving licence, wallet, backpacks for the kids, my backpack, coats, shoes, toothbrushes, everything we could need. Everything that is, except my phone.
No sweat, I thought. I used to manage without a mobile phone back in the good old days. I’ll just use a pay-phone like we used to and cope without it. We landed in Gatwick and the first thing I had to do was find a cash machine to get some sterling. Then I had to find a shop to break the notes for some change. Next task was to find an actual pay-phone. Turns out there aren’t as many of them around as there used to be. I eventually found one, figured out how to use it, phoned dad, situation explained, job done.
Next on the list: to phone my friend who was also expecting a text. Except I didn’t know her number. It was in my phone listed under her name. So I was going to have to email instead. Cue next job: to find a computer terminal so I could email my friend to let her know we wouldn’t be too long. Also I needed to email my husband to let him know not to ring me on my mobile as it was still in Ireland and to make sure he had dad’s home phone number. Phew.
We found the computer terminals and they only took one pound coins, which of course I didn’t have. We were going to have to hike back to W H Smith again for a one pound coin. This was getting to be really quite tiresome by this stage.
Was life always this complicated? Was it really this difficult back then? All I know is that trailing around Gatwick airport with luggage and children looking for cash machines, shops, computer terminals and phones, all punctuated with trips to the loo and requests for food and water, takes more time and energy than you would believe.
Yes, mobile phones have replaced conversation and brought about many other changes which belong in a different post. But they have also made travelling easier and making plans to meet much less complicated and stressful.
So now when we travel anywhere I make sure I have all the essentials, wallet, wipes, and of course my trusty fully charged and fully operational mobile phone.