Off The Grid

Run silent, run free

Run silent, run free

Two years ago, when I moved to Toronto for a job, I was mandated to carry a cellphone for the first time in my life. Prior to that, it had become a personal challenge (and no small point of peculiar pride) that I was able to live without this most intrusive of technological crutches for as long as I did.

My sons did not understand my reluctance. ‘How can you work in broadcasting and not have a cellphone?”, they’d ask. “Are you Amish?”

After I was given a company cellphone I fought the almost inevitable reliance..the addiction…that comes with feeling constantly connected. I did not want to be one of those guys you see texting on a beach in Maui. I did not want the gnawing anxiety that comes with cyber-separation.

At the end of last month, after giving notice at my job, I left Toronto and returned to my family home on the west coast. And I have yet to reconnect the cellphone. I don’t miss it. I really don’t.

I don’t expect anyone who has grown up in a world that now operates by its thumbs to want it any other way. But there are some of us who savour a memory of a life free of sudden vibration and irritating ditties. When you went home from work…you actually went home from work. You didn’t carry it with you. You were not always available to the boss…and if you happened to be the boss, you were not always ‘on call’. Frankly, no one has ever paid me enough to command my attention (even remotely) for 24 hours a day. On the other hand, I’ve never been the boss.

I will probably have to fire up the cellphone again..perhaps, sooner than I’d really like. I may not quite be done with the workaday world. We’ll see. But the last couple of weeks have been consumed with toiling around my home…including long hours spent in the garden. There are only humming bees and gurgling fountains out there amid the roses and calla lilies and delphiniums. It’s hard to imagine that just two weeks ago the cellphone was the first thing I looked at when I awoke and the last thing I saw before sleep.

You tell me what’s the better way to live.


19 Responses to “Off The Grid”

  1. Brian Baker Says:

    Dave, I envy you for a couple of reasons–giving up the electronic “collar” AND heading for the west coast. Around here, it’s beeping, buzzing and ringing pretty well 24/7. And I really don’t need to explain the lure of the B.C, do I? Wishing you much peace and happiness out there and best wishes for future endeavours! Cheers!

    • Thanks Brian. The west coast can be gorgeous this time of year..or not. It’s the month of November I dread. November, in general, has not a damn thing to recommend it.

    I had a similar feeling about cell phones but then as the kids grew up I set up a family phone plan. I couldn’t believe how much more my kids would ‘talk’ with me via text messaging and sometimes we would use the phones to tease each other (I might text them from downstairs to let them know dinner is ready to get a laugh out of them).
    While I’ve done what I can to avoid the pull to purchase the latest and greatest phone, I am glad for the opportunity to connect with my kids.
    … but then, I don’t have a garden. Perhaps if I did, I would feel very differently.

    • Suzanne,
      I found the texting feature useful as well. I spent a lot of time chatting with the kids in those two years away. I don’t think they ever quite grasped the concept that there are different time zones in this country, though.

  3. Good Morning Dave, another excellent article from you, great thoughts & writing, imho – I do have a cell phone for “emergency” calls only – I did have to use it while travelling on the 401 highway last year due to a blown tire, it came in very handy to call CAA – it has its moments, to me, they are few & far between, thankfully – I enjoyed my visit to Gibsons, could easily retire out there – at the EatVancouver festival I messed up my Hollandaise sauce & was the example of what not to do, and I bowed to the crowd as gracefully as I could when I was set out from the crowd by the teacher and it was my pleasure to screw it up so that others could learn from my mistakes! – I get so much back from your articles Dave, thank you, I like to know that there are others that feel similar to me on the cell phone, thanks for your article here on this! – what I liked to hear most from you today, is that I will have more opportunities to view your future “workaday” events, whatever they may be – Happy Father’s Day Dave, with or without a cell phone, your boys are very fortunate to have you in their life, as is your life partner and all of us Dave Gerry fans as well, I hope the weather is nice for you out there in Beautiful B.C.

    • Thanks Karen. Gibsons is a great spot. I wouldn’t mind buying and keeping my next boat up there…and I love the Sunshine Coast. I have a good friend with a place near Roberts Creek and it is a small slice of heaven.
      Did your hollandaise bind? Angie has taught me a great trick with hollandaise, which is to whisk a shard of an ice cube in there if it seizes…and it instantly relaxes the sauce.

      • Hey Dave, Robert’s Creek is where my sister-in-law lives! – they keep a post on their fridge, for who sees the Cruise Ship first, their view of Nanaimo is spectacular – the other day they saw a submarine, a brand new category for their list – the hollandaise sauce separated because I was scared it was going to cook to become some kind of egg slurpy – I’ll try your ice cube trick for the next time I mess it up (bound to happen!), sounds great, thank you Dave, hope you had a great Dad’s Day, Phil Mickleson is fortunate to have come in 2nd, again, good for him!

      • Yes, Phil. I enjoy golf so much more now that I don’t play it anymore.

  4. Although I can relate to your discomfort with the intrusive nature of technology ,I am obligated to admit I am tied to my cell. This however is by choice. It represents a connection to family and friends I would otherwise miss. I can send or receive messages from those close to me no matter where their hectic lives might take them. Enjoy the quiet respite but please continue to post, your witty insights bring a bright spot to my day and I am sure I am not alone.

  5. gailcarey Says:

    I think you’ve chosen the best life Dave. I have a cell phone that I very rarely use. Life is way too complicated these days. Keep it as simple as possible, I say. I will miss seeing you on the t.v. Hope life is good to you out there in B.C.

  6. Dave…I am happy to hear that you have returned to your home out west. While I still miss your wit and humour on morning television I expect you are glad to be back to your roots! Keep on posting…love your take on life!

  7. Hello, Dave. I wish you and your family and friends all the best. I found your approach intelligent and creative and I am glad that all of us can keep receiving news via this method from time-to-time. I know BC well, many good times for you again. I get frustrated with cell phones and it is the control button. Some people just turn them off. I found the texting comments from others useful. Take good care. Lynne, a traveller (Toronto)

  8. Dave: believe I fixed my name shown here. No reply necessary. Lynne

  9. Welcome back to BC, Dave! I use my cell phone when we go out of town and for emergency only. I had the phone company to turn off the text messaging feature on my phone. It is good to read you again.

  10. My son and I always discussed your wording; Ethan is 18 but quotes Shakespeare? Is this healthy?

    But, I digress. Will truly miss your guidance on Global.

    Will miss your stories Dave!

  11. Dave! Hadn’t seen you on Global for a while and now I know why. I’m so sad I won’t be able to see your stories on tv anymore, but happy for you that you’re back home. TMS isn’t the same without you.

    I have a cellphone…an old school one with no camera, no internet and it’s NEVER charged, so it’s like I don’t have one. People look at me like I’m an alien when they ask for my cell number so they can text me, and I tell them they can’t. I think if I ever do get an iPhone or Blackberry , I’ll keep on telling everyone I don’t have one. I can’t imagine being “on call” for everyone I know.

    Funny how those same people complain about not having any money, but manage to find it for their monthly cell fees. Apparently this is now a necessity. Not for me…I’m still breathing. Maybe it is an age thing. When I was a kid, the most exciting thing to have was a tape recorder.

    • Hi Lisa,
      Well, I’ll probably keep my hand in broadcasting a bit…just enough to keep me motivated but not so it feels like a grind. I had a tape recorder as a kid too….a reel to reel unit. And I used to stick it under the sofa in the living room whenever my parents had a cocktail so I could tape the ‘adult’ conversations. None of which I understood. The other great electronic device was the transistor radio, which I would hide under my pillow at night so I could listen to music. Cheap thrills for a kinder, gentler life.

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