It is Spring Break, 2019. That means we are all going to die.
I’m serious—sort of. A spring break in Lower Alabama, and Northwest Florida, means that a simple drive to the grocery store is a deadly tactical maneuver. Spring breakers are on the highways, and they are too busy texting to drive a car.
They steer with their knees, glancing at phones, avoiding eye-contact, texting such vital sentiments as:
Today, I passed three car wrecks on the way to get my dry cleaning. Outside the vehicles stood young men and young women who were crying on officers’ shoulders, traumatized by the horrifying reality of coming scarily close to almost losing their cellphones.
Things have changed. Last week, I was in Nashville, using the public restroom in a crowded place. I entered the mens’ room to find every stall occupied.
There, standing before eight urinals were eight young men who were—I am sorry to get too personal—using their cellphones.
That poor janitor.
Sure, I know society has become technologically advanced, I’m no fool. Still, I miss the days when a fella could visit the bathroom without waiting for the guy ahead of him to finish writing an email to his boss.
My cousin’s son is in town for spring vacation this week. He texted me yesterday to see what I was up to. He is twenty-two years old, and his texts are hard for me to understand because he abbreviates everything.
“How R U,” he texted—no question mark.
“Hey!” I wrote—I took the time to add an exclamation point because that is the kind of guy I am.
He texted in reply: “WYD?”
“You’re gonna have to be a little more clear.”
“LOL! It means ‘What are you doing?’”
“I’m texting a twenty-two-year-old.”
Give me strength, Lord.
I didn’t want to ask, but I had to. I asked him what “IKR?” meant.
“LOL!” he wrote. “It means ‘I know, right?’ Everyone uses that phrase, Sean.”
Yeah? Well my mother also had a phrase. It involved the theoretical scenario of watching your friends jump off a bridge.
This afternoon, I walked into Winn-Dixie. The place was more crowded than I have ever seen it. In the canned-vegetable aisle, I almost lost my life when the Boy With the Dragon Tattoo almost severed my achilles with his shopping cart.
He and his friends were racing shopping buggies. The boy’s race basket contained two passengers: Girl with the Spongebob Tattoo, and Sorority Sister with Eggplant-Colored Hair.
The opposing team was led by: Guy with Tackle Box Contents Embedded in His Face, and a girl who was wearing a bathing suit that was actually two RC Cola caps strategically positioned.
They rocketed past me and clipped my heel. I almost had a heart attack, but no harm was done.
Boy with the Dragon Tattoo said, “Sorry, bro! So sorry, bro! You’re not mad are you, bro?”
“Of course not,” Bro said. “Accidents happen.”
“I know right?” said the Girl with the Purple Hair, then she used her cellphone to snap a picture of me.
When I finished shopping I took my place in a long line of kids in beach clothes whose carts were piled high with the essential spring-break items like: potato chips, Spaghettios, Captain Crunch, plastic shovels and pails, Velveeta, and King James Bibles.
But something was wrong. Nobody in these shopping lines was talking to one another. It was a curious sight to behold.
Young people with their mouths closed. I declare.
Long ago, I remember spring break trips with my friends, all we did was talk. In fact, our activities were really excuses to do more talking. We talked until our voices were sore.
Not these kids. They were holding glowing screens. It was so quiet, you could have heard a lemon drop.
I felt sort of bad for the youth of America. They might not ever know the glory of casual conversation in a grocery store. Or worse, they might miss out on the exhilaration of conversation with the opposite gender.
There’s a lot to be said for the thrill of conversation. Sure, these kids might know how to abbreviate words, but I wonder if they aren’t being shorted somehow.
The cashier scanned my items. We exchanged a sympathetic glance. This poor woman has been dealing with spring breakers all day.
“How’re you holding up?” I asked.
“Actually, I’m okay,” she said. “These kids don’t say much, they just sorta play on their phones and keep quiet. Half the time they never even look away from the screen.”
The cashier read my total, I paid with cash, she handed over my receipt. We made eye-contact for a few brief moments.
“Wow,” she said. “You know, it’s funny, you’re the first customer not looking at a phone who I’ve made eye-contact with today.”
“LOL,” I said.
“IKR?” she said.
Drive safe out there.