My Life in the Footsteps of Technology

Delta Winds cover 2008Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


My Life in the Footsteps of Technology

Shaunna Branham

Most Americans have to deal without some type of technology at a point in their lives. For myself, technology wasn't something I thought about, even though I used it every day. Just because it was at my fingertips didn't make it a hot commodity to me. Or so I believed.

Growing up just north of San Francisco, in a small speck of a city, I never noticed technology. I mean, we had two televisions, one in the living room and another in the bedroom. We also had a vacuum cleaner and a coffee maker. That was all one needed. It wasn't until later in life that I realized how much I was really missing out. A friend of mine pointed out my lack of a microwave, a cell phone (when they were the size of a remote), and a car.

My mom wasn't a chef, but when she cooked it was amazing. When I asked her about a microwave, she told me, "If you want soggy tasteless food, get a job and buy your own microwave."

"But everyone else has one; plus it will cook everything ten times faster." I felt I was right. I mean everyone had a microwave. Why couldn't we? She gave me that get-the-hell-away-from-me look so I did. But I was out to set her straight; a microwave would be a good addition to our home. So I saved and I saved and about five months later I bought a microwave. I couldn't wait to try it out. Unfortunately it was what my mom said it would be. I placed some leftover fried chicken in the microwave and set it for five minutes-the longest five minutes I was ever going to wait. When it finally blared calling for me to remove what I believed would be a piece of heaven, I found a soggy shriveled-up chicken leg screaming for help. It was wet on the outside and dry on the inside. I only ever used the microwave after that to heat water for tea. This was only my first stop to heartbreak with technology.

By the time I was fifteen I finally understood what a cell phone was, and I knew I needed to get one. My social status at school was in the middle. If it weren't for those I grew up with, I'd probably be at rock bottom. But everyone I knew carried around these pop-tart size phones that blatantly went off in class while a lecture was going on. I'd walk past a crowd of girls calling the crowd of guys at the other end of the hall. I'd wonder what they were saying, hoping they weren't talking about me. I felt it was time to take action.

"Mom, what if something happened to me at school, and I'd need to call you?"

"That's what public phones are for."

My mom always made us kids keep a quarter in our pockets just in case we had to call her in an emergency. I think I had carried mine for two years.

"What if I can't find a pay phone? Besides, you can get a cell phone for you, too."

"If you want a cell phone, get a job and buy one."

I didn't see the harm in having a cell phone. We needed to keep in touch during emergencies, so I got a job. With my first paycheck I rushed out and bought a cell phone. I signed on the dotted line and didn't think twice because I had a cell phone and couldn't wait to show it off. After the free first month, a bill arrived in the mail: $285! That became the end of the cell phone for me. I figured it was cheaper to carry a quarter around in my pocket. After some time, I convinced myself it was okay that I didn't have a cell phone because what I really wanted was a car.

I continued to work and saved over $1500 in a year. My next trip was to the auto dealer. A group of my friends had gotten their driver's licenses and their parents let them drive to school. I didn't have a driver's license or even know how to drive, but I wanted a car plus I had $1500. I was 0 for 2 with my mom, but I knew I could convince her to help get me a car and I was too young to do it by myself.

"Mom, everyone at school drives. I'm the only one who takes the bus."

"No! Your sisters take the bus!"

"Mom! Please! I have money. All you have to do is go with me down to a dealership, sign the papers, and give them the money!" See, I had it all planned out.

"What about payments? Insurance? A driver's license? Can you keep your job for about another fifty years?"

"All of that comes after the car!"

"NO!" She gave me that look before I could even say another word.

I was on my own again. Since I wasn't able to go to a dealership, I looked in the paper and saw an '87 Toyota wagon for $1000. It was a sign. I got a twelve-year-old car, but I got to keep $500 in my pocket. I met up with the seller of the car and it looked good, I guess. I wasn't sure what I was doing.

"So what do you think?"

"It's nice. I'll need to think it over so I'll be back"

"The car might not be here when you get back. An older lady was looking to buy it for $1300."

"Oh no . . . okay. I'll take it!"

He handed me the keys and I gave him the money. "Oh, yeah, it needs a battery."

I got behind the wheel and started off up the hill. I couldn't wait to drive past the school so everyone could see what I got. I managed to make it about five blocks carelessly swerving up the hill before I hit a parked car. I got out to check the damage. Not much, only a broken taillight for them and a scratched bumper for me. As I turned to get back in the car, I saw it rolling down the hill. Cars dodged and darted out of the way. I chased after it not knowing what would happen if I caught up with it. But before I could reach the car, it smashed into a light pole. And that was the end of that. I ended up paying a $300 fine and $189.99 for the taillight. Strike three. After that I found myself in a slump. I didn't care what gadget everyone had because I knew something would probably end up going wrong if I got it.

I still to this day use my microwave, a new one, to heat water for tea only. Everything cooks, bakes, or reheats in my oven, and I'm okay with it. I will admit that after three more failed attempts to own a cell phone I have one now. Thank God for MetroPCS. And after having the worst luck with cars I'm doing a little better. Technology is a big deal to a lot of people, and I found out if you don't try to keep up with everyone you'll be okay without it. For me the repeated attempts to purchase a phone were worth it because I have two small kids and I get worried about how they are doing. For the same reason I found it necessary to keep trying for a car after some initial setbacks: My mom totaled my first Camry, my second Camry was hit from the back and totaled, my Suburban died on me after two weeks of owning it, and my current cars, a Dakota and Bonneville, together wouldn't make a whole car. I'm okay with technology.