Waiting for the Buzz
I heard it. It wasn’t much of a sound, an all-but-imperceptible buzz, the faint rattle of my silenced cell phone as it’s vibration resonated through the top of the filing cabinet, but I heard it. I heard it, and I could not ignore it.
“Mrs. H___’s social studies classes have homework. Complete the handout on the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine.”
I stopped working to read that. Mrs. H___’s social studies classes have homework. Complete the handout on the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine. I stopped working, stood up from my desk, walked over to my phone, checked the update, and read it.
This was an alert from the “Remind” app that the teachers at my childrens’ schools are using. I get about six of these each day.
I made it all the way through college without a planner. All the other girls, all those type-A kids who competed with one another for front row seats, took their Franklin-Covey planners everywhere. They left them sitting out on their desks like baby monitors. Not me. I had a different system; a tried-and-true method I called waiting for the buzz.
Waiting for the buzz entailed waiting for the other kids in class to start anxiously discussing deadlines.
“Oh my gosh, that motor speech paper is due Thursday, and I need at least 8 more sources!”
“Holy cow, I heard that voice/resonance final takes the entire hour to finish – and it’s Monday! I’m not ready!”
I listened to them fret. When the panic got hot enough, I knew it was time to get busy, and so I’d write motor speech ppr Thur on a post-it note and then staple the note to my purse strap, or I’d write voice final Mon on the heel of my thumb. Now I have all these apps, and they remind me regardless of whether or not I wish to be reminded.
“Picture day is tomorrow.”
“Wear green to school on the 10th to support literacy.”
“Please bring index cards for science tomorrow if you have them. :)”
The Remind app is the latest nag my phone has aquired, but it is certainly not the only one. The orthodontist’s office reminds me of my daughter’s upcoming appointments by calling my phone, leaving a voice mail, sending a text, and sending an email. They all come through at once like this:
These reminders aren’t always about my kids, though. I get quite a few about myself.
Every night, at nine o’ clock, the South Beach Diet app reminds me to log my food. South Beach uses these entries to make little bar graphs for me:
When all of the bars are blue and close to the right side of the graph, it means I have won for the day. Won what, I’m not sure. Dr. Arthur Agatston’s approval, maybe. Perhaps he gets a little update on my progress and, in the privacy of his Miami home, nods his head and smiles. That Ginger, he thinks to himself, she is really sticking to the plan.
When I eat too much of something, when I exceed the fat, sodium or carbohydrates I meant to eat in a day, the bar for that particular nutrient turns an angry red. Please observe yesterday’s graph, which indicates I had a carb-tastic day.
If I buy an item on Etsy but don’t review the seller right away, the Etsy app is quick to get on my case. “You still have items to review,” it says. Etsy can take a hint, though, and it gives up pretty quickly, which is more that i can say for the “Run Keeper” app.
“You thought this was the perfect time a while back…remember?” That is pretty needy for a free app – the digital equivalent of Barbara Streisand giving Neil Diamond the what-for for never bringing her flowers.
All these little chirps and chimes, they’re awful, but I really do need them. My memory is lousy, I’m too old to use my own hands for notepads, and the calender on my phone is cluttered to the point of being unusable for all of the birthdays that Facebook has taken the liberty of adding. It is distressing to come to terms with how depended you are on something outside of yourself. (And yes, I know this is going to get worse when we finally break down and get our middle-schooler a phone. The buzz around that has already started. Don’t remind me.)