HELP!! THE WORLD
My 22 year old son graduated from
college last May with a degree in something or other, and immediately
found a low-paying, menial job that certainly did not require a college
It was in an office,
though, and after a GRUELING six months of working 37 hours a week, he
decided it was time for an extended vacation. So with his meager savings
in hand, he headed off for a two month trip to South America with his
"Thanks for the
education, sucker," he said as I watched him pack his bag right after
Christmas. "Iíll be in touch."
My little boy was going
far, far away. I remember when I travelled while in college in the 70ís.
My parents had no idea where I was, how I was doing, or if I was still
alive. Iíd send occasional letters, but that was about it.
"You canít afford to
use your cell phone in foreign countries," I said. "How will we
He looked at me like all
children look at their Neanderthal parentsówith disdain. "Havenít
you heard of WhatsApp?" he asked.
"How about Viber?"
"How about Skype?"
Victory. I did know all
about Skype. Iíve even used it a few times when I was in another country
to call home. I let him know that it was nice to know we could Skype (itís
now a verb) him or he could Skype us. Pretty cool.
"No one uses Skype
anymore," he explained. "Itís for old people. You need to have
an internet connection and pay two cents per minute or something. With
WhatsApp and Viber you can text or call for free."
I am so
"yesterday." So I went on my phone and downloaded WhatsApp and
Viber for a grand total of 99 cents. Then I took my little boy to the
airport and watched him walk away for his big adventure in a land far, far
Fifteen hours later I got a
text on my phone from WhatsApp. "Landed in Santiago, Chile. Anybody
miss me yet?"
This was going to be a
little different than my college travels. The world is getting smaller
every day. My little boy wasnít so far away after all.
I might have missed
watching the Super Bowl with him a couple of weeks later, but as he sat in
front of a television somewhere in Patagonia, we kept a constant texting
"49ers suck," he wrote
during the first half. "Bring in Alex Smith."
"Kaepernick is the
man," he wrote during the second half. "Letís frigging
It was weird. He was in
Patagonia, I was in Marin County, and it was like he was next door. And I
could have picked up my cell phone and called him on Viber for free
anytime I wanted.
I didnít, though, because
you got to give him his space. In fact, weíd go a few days without any
communication, just to show how independent heíd become.
But I was thankful for the
technology when I happened to glance at the USA Today travel section and
noticed a small paragraph on the corner of the page headlined "Cancel
Your Trip To Machu Piccu."
That was my sonís last
stop, two weeks in Peru and the Cusco region, including a hike to the Inca
ruins at Machu Piccu. Unfortunately, the State Department had issued a
travel alert warning of kidnappings in the area that were targeting
In the old days, he never
would have known. But now all I had to do was text or call. So I texted
him and let him know about the alert. Being the most cautious child that
ever walked the earth, he quickly cancelled his trip to Machu Piccu.
"Glad to hear
it," I texted back. "If you got kidnapped, it would put me in a
terrible spot deciding how much ransom you were worth. Iím thinking $500
but I might go a little higher."
thank you," he wrote back. Iíll give them that offer up
A few days later he
and his girlfriend were safely home, about two weeks before they were
scheduled to return, thanks to the cancelled Machu Piccu and Peru portion.
I didnít even ask
when he would start looking for a job. I knew to wait at least two weeks.