Searching for a signal

I HAD always taken sending text messages for granted. I know that with a mere click of a button, I can connect and send messages to people wherever they might be without need of a computer or a telephone but I learned to appreciate its real value only recently.

I know I have become part of the three million texters in the country churning out 30 million messages a day, not because I want to but because I have to. Next to my ballpen, my cellphone has become a basic necessity.

I am charged P1.00 per message, and this means that, wherever I am, with a few exceptions, I can be reached through text. At P1 per text, it’s a steal compared to a call but in places where cell signals can be unrealiable, it could be nightmarish. One would even wish for ‘half-a-bar’ of signal displayed on the screen because text messages can pass through wafer-thin signals.

We were already traversing the bumpy jungle roads heading for the New People’s Army camp in a town in Surigao del Sur for a Mindanao tri-media assembly last month when it dawned on me that I forgot to get two of my jeans from the clothesline in the boarding house (they’re not expensive but I poured sweat to buy them).

Experience had taught me that if you are too lazy to get your clothes from the clothesline, somebody will do it for you but that would be the last time you’ll see your clothes.

Okay, I admit my forgetfulness as an incurable disease is no excuse. I had even put it in my cellphone reminders to get the jeans but I must have turned off the alarm because I only remembered it when we had already been on the road for five hours.

Then came the desperate searching for a signal to text my boardmate to get the jeans for me, but no matter how hard I pressed and stared at my cellphone, the screen remained blank.

We had to alight from the van several times and walk because the van can barely go up on the muddy, uphill road. In between puffing for air and wiping of sweat, I kept up with my desperate search for a signal, which was met with failure.

Drenched in sweat, my tired and frustrated spirits rose when I learned upon reaching the camp that antenna sockets for cellphones were installed but alas, only Nokia 5110 cellphones can be accomodated. Plugging my cellphone in the outlets is out of the question.

Plopping down on a nearby plank of wooden bench, I stared at what was once a pair of sandals on my feet. (Ever tried trekking up a muddy mountain road in your sandals before? Somehow the idea of wearing rubber shoes didn’t occur to silly old me until we reached the mountains).

Back to my desperate search for cell signals. I looked for spots in the camp where I could get a good enough signal to make a call — but without success. From time to time, the screen would display ‘one bar’ signal but when I pushed a button, it would disappear.

I ended up in a hilly part of the camp where finally, after much hand raising and back-stepping that I almost fell in a muddy pit, I was able to send a text message with a prayer that it would reach my next-door neighbor. It did and I know some thief was not happy about it.

With the wonders of technology, I disappointed some lurking thief from running off with my jeans. On the other hand, somebody has not spoken to me for one whole week because of that hard-to-get signal which helped me send a message to inform him I was in that area.
It’s a wonder how a few clicks on your cellphone can make someone feel good or loved, make a distress call, or even insult or offend someone.

If you’re unaware of it, Somebody up there is just a prayer away. He’d made it easier for us all to contact Him, no buttons to press, no P1.00 charges, and no desperate searching for signal is needed. In fact, He’s reachable anytime.

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