Compared to most seasonal locations that I have lived & worked, this spot in Death Valley feels really remote and cut off from civilization. Actually a main highway goes right passed the store I work in, so technically I still see a bit of civilization often. But its the ONLY store for miles (and believe me when I say its small). I ain’t Off-Grid either the way most people would think. I have access to a bathroom with running water and electricity and functional air condition. I just am not tripping over a daily use of gadgets that require modern technology.
At the moment I have no phone to call anyone or send text messages, no laptop, no mp3 player, no radio, and no television or portable DVD player to keep up-to-date every minute of every day. I can’t just check someone’s page on facebook any time of day whenever the mood strikes. It’s like I just sent myself to rehab for an addiction from “information overload”. About 6 months ago, I had gone out to eat at a seafood buffet with my friend Robin. A family with a bunch of kids were sitting at a table next to us. Everyone was talking with each other except for one girl who might have been Jr. High school aged. She was glued to her phone during the entire meal, never saying a single word to her family. I thought it was odd and rude. That lack of polite proper manners might be considered normal for most of society now-a-days, but it isn’t normal to me.
I never even had a cell phone until I went to Alaska in 2012. Then I bought a cheap flip phone at Walgreens, that I had to pay for minutes anytime I did use it. I think every text message cost a minute also. It didn’t allow games, movies, or have apps downloaded on it. But it was good for applying to jobs while I was there. Eventually about a year after returning to Arizona, I got an unlimited Android phone that I used every day..yes I had become an annoying zombie with my nose stuck to a screen. Even when I moved to a remote area of Arizona with no wifi, I was able to play games and read ebooks on my tablet or take pictures with the tablet, so I was still glued to a screen during my free time on days off from work.
Well recently my USB cable decided not to charge my phone or tablet. (Something that happens every 3-4 months). So now I am using the public computer in the employee lounge (community room) to order a new one. I now have to mostly entertain myself without technology…modern gadgets. Oh gee, what did we do before any of those devices were invented?
Some people may debate on how modern technology like the internet has made life easier. I will agree with that to some degree, but instead of watching the news and seeing the president spout off his many ways to “make America great again”, I have no problem of shutting the world out temporarily to make my own life great….or at least good enough again. Yes I actually like living in my own little bubble cut off from the world’s problems. It’s like I don’t know how to handle so much “over-stimulation” from civilization and I feel a need to just back away from it all…every few months. If the Amish can do it throughout their lifetime then I can do it for a few months. Yes living without such conveniences can actually be more relaxing and stress-free.
I have a car that I only use about once every 3 weeks. It takes me about 3-5 minutes to walk to work or to the employee dining room, so I don’t have to deal with traffic on the road, and absolutely no desire to deal with anyone’s road rage during rush hour. Usually I have to drive about 20 miles before anything will even come on the radio in the car. Then usually the first channel to come onto the radio is some npr news talk show and usually it’s about some political person that I know nothing about.
I am one of those people that still collects paper maps. I have never owned a GPS and see no reason to start now. Oh sure, a couple years ago when I was on a greyhound bus, I was in Florida going to Georgia and somehow my phone was able to get Google maps to show me where I was….which let me Screensave a mini pic of my location and post it on Facebook. It was a good way for my aunt and cousin to know where I was so they could know when to pick me up from the bus stop in GA.
Before accepting a job at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley, I took the opportunity to ask a few of their past employees about living here. I wanted to know what they liked and/or disliked about the place. A few of the people mentioned how the internet service was almost non-existent. Today I am laughing at that because I am OK with horrible wifi. When guests come into the store and ask me about how to use our wifi, I almost want to yell at them…..you are on vacation with your family, so pay attention to them and not your darn phone.
Well I have the day off from work today, so I will spend the rest of the day cleaning out my closet. Sometime in the next week or two, the company will be renovating the rooms on my side of the building and I will have to stay in their hotel again. But I have to get all my stuff moved out of my dorm room first for whenever they are ready to start the renovation. Usually they have the bad timing of waiting until I am already at work to tell me that I have to move. This time I want to make sure I am ready before they are.