Cell phones save livesBy
When I was first living in Venice, back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, cell phones were just beginning to catch on. It seems strange — insane — to think of it now, but there were still few enough to justify making passing comments such as “Buy! Buy!” when someone ostentatiously walked by, talking into this little gimcrack.
Now, of course, we can’t even metabolize simple sugars without them.
One night, in those distant years, we were walking home along the Fondamenta San Basegio. All at once we were startled to hear a woman’s voice suddenly, very loud, right behind us.
“Cominciate a mangiare,” she stated firmly, striding past us. “Fra due minuti saro’ a casa.” [“You all start eating, I’ll be home in two minutes.”] She turned down the Calle de l’Avogaria and was gone.
We went left, over the bridge.
“Wow,” I said. “Good thing she had the cell phone. What would have happened if we were still back in the old days, when people couldn’t phone to say they were almost home?”
“The family would have starved,” Lino answered immediately. “There they are, all sitting around the table, with their knives and forks ready. But Mom isn’t home! What should we do? Should we wait? Should we start? Where is she? What’s gone wrong?”
He was in full sail now. “The police will finally break in, but it will be too late for most of them. The grandfather will already be dead, because he’s the weakest. He couldn’t hold out. The little boy will be barely alive, but that’s only because he was sneaking bits of pasta on the side. The rest of the family will be strewn about the table, unconscious.
“‘What happened?’ the police will cry.
“‘We couldn’t start eating,’ somebody will gasp out, barely able to talk. ‘Mom wasn’t home yet.’
“Thank God she had the phone.”