Call of Nature
PHONY: author enjoying the outdoors

Technology can be a life-saver… but it can also be dangerous.

These thoughts came to me recently while I was lying on my back in a thorn bush under my bicycle next to a hillside path.

It was a warm day in England and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt but the barbs weremuch smaller than Devil’s claw so I doubt I would have drawn much blood if I had removed myself slowly.

The thing is, there were several stinging nettle plants mixed in with the thorns andthey were steadily pumping a painful toxin into my arms and legs so I really did want to get out as fast as I could.

When I tried to do that, however, I realised I was stuck. My head was below my feet,gravity was working against me, and I didn’t want to throw the bike farther downhill into the nettles and thorns.

Fortunately, my friend was still within shouting distance and she rushed back to lift the bike off me and help me unhook and climb my way back to the path.

At this point you may be asking yourselves why this mishap had me pondering technology.

Well, for one thing, if my friend hadn’t been close enough to hear my shouts I figured I would have been able to phone her, and for another, it reminded me of another tale that could have had a much worse ending.

A friend injured his leg when he fell into a stream while hiking last winter and he had to phone his companion to come back down the trail to help him out.

That’s the part that makes me say technology can be a lifesaver. The dangerous bit is a reference to what happened when Jim’s much younger walking mate arrived at the stream.

Before helping his companion out of the freezing water, the middle-aged man burst into laughter and pulled out his phone once again… this time to take a few photos.

That might have been forgivable if Jim was young and it was warm, but he is 80-years-old, it was cold and they had a long walk back to the car.

Is it really worth risking someone’s health, or even just their comfort, just to get a photograph?

Those thoughts were still passing through my mind when I got back to the path and I decided to focus on them to help me block out the puncture, scratch and stinging sensations that were coming from my arms and legs.

And instead of being irritated and miserable I decided to be upbeat and grateful Sal and I were carrying our phones.

The plan worked quite well right up to the point I shared my thoughts with my saviour.

That’s when she pointed out she had put her phone in the saddle bags that were strapped to my bike so I if I had tried to call her I would have had to answer the phone myself.

Her exact words were, ‘the phone was in the bag between you and the bike,’ which makes me think she was looking for it when she arrived…but she assures me she had no intention of taking a photo.

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