Pulling into the post office parking lot in Nederland, I glanced at my cell phone. As I touched the Message icon, I was surprised to see three new text messages, including one from my friend Carrie.
“I’m in Nederland today, want to grab a cup of coffee?”
I hadn’t seen Carrie in quite some time and thought how nice it would be to spend some time catching up with her. Then I saw the time and date of the message — Saturday, 3:44 p.m. I instantly felt guilty that he had taken me three days to respond, sending her a message back.
“Carrie, we don’t have cell service at our house, so only now got your message — sorry!”
I can’t tell you how often this scenario has occurred during the eight years we have lived here, where I’ve either gotten cell phone voice mails or text messages several days after the fact. I’m sure many of my friends think I’m just plain rude, since the whole idea behind texting is in fact “instant messaging.”
Our lack of cell service is a function of topography when living in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. While the Town of Nederland proper does have cell service, we live outside of town, just beyond a ridge thus blocking the signal from the town’s only cell tower. Many residents of Colorado face a similar issue, living in canyons or beyond mountain ridges in rural areas.
Just before we moved here, there was no cell service anywhere in the vicinity of Nederland. And in fact, when Verizon proposed building a tower, it became quite a contentious issue. Business owners liked the idea, yet some residents as well as the town trustees, thought a tower would mar the natural setting of the small mountain town. Eventually, Verizon won out, thus bringing the town into the 21st century.
Years ago I met some friends from Washington, DC for dinner and they too said they would text me next time they visited the area. I had to explain our plight once again.
“Actually, we don’t get cell service at our house. So if you are going to be in the area, you’ll need to call our home phone.”
“What do you mean you don’t have cell service, that’s not possible. Everyone has cell phone service now.”
No matter how much I assured him we didn’t, he just didn’t believe me.
When I managed the local mining museum, I had to explain to volunteers how best to get a hold of me in a very sequential manner.
“First, you should call our home phone, then you should call my cell phone, and leave a message. But you should leave a voice mail on my home phone too in case I’m out walking the dogs or something.”
Still, with so many people these days who strictly use their cell phone, people continue to text me constantly, only to not receive a reply from me until the next time I go to town. Which for me can be two or three days, since if I don’t have to go to work or shopping, I don’t necessarily even leave our neighborhood. I guess old habits die hard.
While clearly our urban friends saw this as a major inconvenience, I’ve come to appreciate it as a blessing. No ringing of phones at the dinner table, no pinging of instant messages as we sit visiting with friends on our deck. The lack of cell service contributes to the atmosphere of peace and serenity that we sought when we bought our mountain top retreat.
As we’ve hosted house guests through the years, we’ve gotten some interesting reactions. Some are clearly annoyed by being cut off from technology and not having that instant connection with the outside world. Others find it refreshing to spend time appreciating the beauty of the outdoors without the constant distraction of their phone.
For me, I find it a reprieve from the constant stresses of daily life. When I’m at home, I want to enjoy the peace and quiet. After all, the reason we sought our mountain home was to get away from it all.