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Phoning In The Discipline

, , , , | Related | April 23, 2018

(Since I’m an only child of a large family tree, I’m a bit of a loner, comparatively. I don’t mind being by myself and actually enjoy silence, which is the complete opposite of most of my family. One day, I take a roadtrip with my mom and members of her side of the family. We end up carpooling with one of my aunts, her husband, and their three kids. My uncle is driving, with me right behind him, and my aunt is in the passenger seat, with my mother directly behind her. All my cousins are shoved in the back. We’re all chatting amongst ourselves, but my aunt is admittedly monopolizing most of the conversation. After a while, I get bored and pull out my phone to read. I reason that, since no one is directly talking to me, and some of my cousins are also on their phone, this is all right.)

Aunt: “[My Name]! Are you paying attention?”

Me: “Huh? Oh, no, sorry.”

Aunt: “Ugh, your generation and phones. Always texting and never talking with the actual people around you!”

(I put away my phone to pay attention more to the conversation, but it turns out she didn’t want to say anything specific to me, as she’s sharing a story. After a few minutes, I pull my phone out again, but my aunt reaches over from her seat and plucks it away from my hands.)

Me: “Hey!”

Aunt: “I warned you already! Now you can’t use it for the rest of the ride!” *slips my phone into HER purse*

(I glance back at a cousin sitting behind me, who’s been on his phone this whole time.)

Me: “But—”

Aunt: “You had your chance. You’re being disrespectful!”

Mom: “She has a point, [My Name]. Besides, we’re traveling through the countryside. Why don’t you enjoy the view?”

(I’m frustrated, but decide not to argue. After trying and failing to pay attention to their conversation, I do what I normally do, and what anyone else probably does and has done without the aid of their phones: I daydream. My mind takes me to the medical article I was reading and branches out in crazy directions. After a while, however…)

Aunt: “[My Name]?”

Me: “Hm?”

(I look at my aunt, staring at me strangely.)

Aunt: “What… What are you thinking about, sweetie?”

(At that moment, I was remembering a surgical video where a doctor removed some sort of gnarly cyst from a patient’s back. Knowing that’s a squeamish and gross topic for most, I freeze.)

Me: “Uh… You don’t want to know.”

(I immediately look back out the window, but not before hearing my mom and uncle chuckle to themselves. We’re stuck driving for another hour before hitting a rest stop. After I’ve taken my bathroom break, my aunt approaches, wordlessly hands me my phone back, and passes me to use the bathroom.)

Me: “Uh…”

Mom: “Wow, I guess she really was bothered.”

Me: “Wait, what?”

Uncle: “Aw, she gave you back your phone? That’s the most quiet [Aunt] has been in years!

(Turns out, I was really zoned out and hadn’t noticed when they started talking about me. Specifically, my aunt freaked out and asked my mom what was wrong with me. My aunt wasn’t used to seeing any of her own kids staying calm while doing nothing, so when she saw me sitting there, dead-eyed and perfectly still, it had creeped the crap out of her. I didn’t help matters when she asked what I was thinking about, and it caused her to stay silent most of the ride, periodically looking over her shoulder at me, unnerved by it all. On the plus side, I was able to use my phone until we reached our destination. If anything, I was surprisingly more attentive when I needed to be, compared to my cousins who complained and fought with each other when our phones ended up having bad reception!)