Prior to stowing their gear in the Escalade, Danielle inspected the contents of each kids’ backpack. Nothing but laptops, tablets, game consoles, ear buds, speakers and VR goggles. She didn’t find a single toothbrush or apparel of any kind.
Should she tell them about the cabin’s lack of WiFi, phone reception or even television?
No. Merry Christmas!
They’d shoot up their final media fix in the Escalade through one of its three Internet-enabled screens. Then what? Cold turkey? Would their be withdrawals?
Danielle stopped at a big box grocery retailer on the way to Manzanita. The kids didn’t want to join her shopping. They streamed shows or snap chatted with friends in Finland and Fredonia.
She loaded up on salty snacks, frozen breakfasts, lunches and dinners, canned energy drinks and bottled mochas. When she hit the wine aisle, she debated which box of rose to purchase. Two days alone with her kids, no Internet? She chose the one with 72 tiny glasses silhouetted on the packaging.
No one said a word on the drive. The kids wore headphones or ear buds. Danielle almost wished she could rip a fart for some kind of reaction, anything, but nothing bubbled in the intestines.
She found a radio station playing 80s and 90s Christmas tunes. She turned it up, settled in, and drove Highway 26 into the Coast Range. The higher she climbed, the thicker the fog. She really didn’t know what she was doing, which is probably what most good parenting is. You just know when you need a change to try and become a team.
Two hours later the Escalade turned into a narrow and potholed driveway canopied by cedars and hemlocks. Lichen hung down from the branches and brushed the hood of the vehicle. Danielle drove slowly and the kids asked what was going on. All was quiet on the reception front.
Danielle killed the Cadillac and got out. Holy shit! The cabin was tinier than some of the tiny homes for the homeless in Portland. And the homeless had WiFi in their tiny homes!
She hustled the kids out and they carried their gear to the cabin. Danielle punched in the security code and they stepped inside. She switched on the lights. The décor was straight out Lewis and Clark’s cabin with some coastal watercolors and glass floats throw in for good measure.
“Kids, I have something to tell you.”
She explained. Their faces blanched. Their lips quivered. Their knees buckled. They marched into the cabin like prisoners of a cyber war that had kicked their ass. How long until they broke and went insane? Or ran away? They didn’t know how to run away, because they never ran.
They had never been without digital devices in their entire lives.
They were about to.
Steve Jobs wept.