Everyone does it. You’re sitting around with a group of friends and someone asks a question about what something means, or where someplace is, and at least one person, if not more, will whip out their phone to quickly Google the answer. In less than 20 seconds, the group has the answer to their burning question. It’s an amazing, and yet very spoiled, way to live! Instant answers may be momentarily satisfying, but what did the group miss out on by finding the answer that quickly? They possibly lost out on a fun and lively conversation among each other, as they attempted to puzzle out the answer. Each person would have contributed their knowledge on the subject, creating the kind of diverse discussion that can only occur when you have several different points of view.
So, here’s a thought: what if, every once in a while, instead of Googling, you asked the people around you, or reveled in the simple pleasure of walking over to your bookshelf to find the answer, or, better yet–called your Dad or Mom.
I remember when I was living alone for the first time, in a city where I knew no one, in a house I had purchased. Home ownership comes with many things; unexpected repairs being the most prevalent and vexing.
Whenever something broke, or I purchased something that needed assembly, the first thing I did, without hesitation, was to call my Dad for help. Granted, this was before smartphones, and also before YouTube contained so many instructional videos, so it definitely wasn’t my first thought to get on my computer for answers. I remember those conversations with my Dad well. He liked being asked. He liked puzzling something out with the added challenge of doing it over the phone. And it served to keep us connected and calling each other more.
In one instance my thermostat became fried with one near-touch of my finger in the dry, winter Colorado air, when a thick spark of static electricity arced into it. With impending nightfall and freezing temperatures upon me, I called my Dad in a panic when the thermostat would not kick on the heat.
What followed was a scenario worthy of a MacGyver episode. If you are too young to know who MacGyver is, I’ll give you a minute to, you know.
It was 8:30pm and Dad knew that Home Depot closed at nine (things Dads know), so I rushed over there to buy a new thermostat. Once home I called Dad again, and as we discussed securing the new thermostat to the wall I reminded him I didn’t own a power drill. I could tell he made a mental note about that, and sure enough, a DeWalt power drill showed up under the Christmas tree the next month 😉 Once he realized I had no way to fasten the new thermostat to the wall and thus have it internally leveled in order to work properly, we entered the MacGyver part of the operation.
After wiring the new thermostat to the wall, it hung there like a sad sail without wind. My Dad instructed me to go out to the garage and find the extra speaker wire he had coiled up and placed on a shelf after my parents had helped move me in. I had no idea it was even there. Speaker wire in hand, he then walked me through cutting back the rubber insulation from the wire, and exposing a piece copper wire about two inches long to cut off. As the temperature in the house fell fast, and thoughts of burst pipes and flooded basements, and costly bills for a single woman filled my head, I didn’t ask questions, I just did what Dad said, with the MacGyver theme song in the back of my head.
He had me wrap one end of the wire around a metal connection in the wall where the thermostat would normally be secured. Then, I stretched the other end of the wire out and lightly touched it to a certain place on the back of the exposed thermostat (don’t ask me where exactly, I was too scared that I would be electrically shocked to really pay attention) and after a beat of silence in which I waited to be lit up, I heard the furnace fire up below. With a whoop of elation I let Dad know the good news and he was just as happy as I was. He then asked me if my new boyfriend could come to the house soon and put the thermostat on the wall (was this a test for said new boyfriend?), and I confirmed that he could do that soon so I wouldn’t be stuck touching the wire to the thermostat each time I wanted heat (although it was quite fun).
I have never forgotten that night and the phone call with my Dad. It wasn’t just his ingenuity that I remember. I felt supported, and it was about more than a thermostat, it spoke to a deeper level about life after divorce and living on my own. And I’m sure he felt needed again for the first time in a while, since previously my husband would take care of home repairs.
So, the next time you automatically reach for your phone in order to figure something out, consider calling your Dad. Or your Mom. Or your best friend, cousin, boyfriend, girlfriend, coworker–you get the idea. They might appreciate the call more than you know and you might find you needed more connection than simply solving your problem.
I’m not hating on Google. I adore Google. But it’s good to remember life before it.