“What’s the worst that can happen?”
It’s a phrase I utter at least half a dozen times a week, often to ease my children’s fears in an uncomfortable situation.
Apparently, the answer is you could be trapped atop a mountain for two and a half hours without any electronic gadgets. But I’m getting ahead of myself there.
Recently, my family and I went on the great American vacation, packing up the minivan and travelling across this great nation of ours. In our case, we headed south to Georgia to create some family memories.
Throughout most of the week, the only memory I had was of children staring at iPods instead of enjoying the natural beauty of the beach near Savannah for the first half of the week or of Stone Mountain for the last portion of it.
They were more interested in playing games or watching videos than enjoying the family part of the family vacation. That’s when my wife and I banned electronic devices from coming with us on our excursions.
One day, my smart phone and my wife’s Smartphone banned themselves, as they both ran out of battery life right before we returned to Stone Mountain, a magnificent granite rock near Atlanta. We left them behind to charge, and I uttered those fateful words: “What’s the worst that can happen?”
As soon as we boarded a lift car to visit the top of the mountain, we learned the answer. As we pulled away on what appeared to be a storm-free day, the operator of the car announced lightning had been sighted five miles away, and we’d be stuck atop the mountain for a little while. The only safe place there would be at the visitor’s center atop the mountain. On the bright side, we’d have a spectacular view of the lightning from there, he said.
There we were, 1,800 feet up in the air with no cell phones, with no electronic games. It’s hard to call it stranded, since we had an air conditioned building complete with a snack bar and gift shop. But trapped seems fair, since 250 of us no longer controlled our own fates until that summer storm passed through.
Without any electronic devices to divert our attention, we did the only thing we could: We invented games.
It started with the old children’s game of telephone, as we whispered a message from one person to another to see how the message changed as it went through all five of us. A surprising number of messages ended up involving toilets.
Then we tried the popular time-waster “I went on a picnic.” We’ve all probably played it before, as you move through the alphabet, saying what you’d bring on a picnic starting with each letter. About halfway through the game, we changed it to “I got stuck on a mountain.” We had some unusual necessities on that list, including another mountain, a nightlight, opera music and popcorn to cover M, N, O and P.
Interestingly enough, no one said they’d bring an iPod.
We wanted to create family memories on this trip. My guess is nothing will top that time we got stuck on top of a mountain without any electronics and lived to tell.
That’s not the worst thing that could’ve happened.