Letter: Tone deaf on cell service

Ron Maxwell writes in The Rappahannock News (“Tower of Babel,” Dec. 2) that he’s content to live in a county where he “can’t get [cellular] service and [is] happy to turn the thing off.” It bothers him, he says, to sit at restaurants where patrons “yammer” on the cell phone and to share a highway with teenagers texting while they drive. Even though he is willing to “confess to its usefulness,” he would prefer that we all just turn it off and contemplate the bucolic silence that surrounds us.

It is ironic that this bit of rhetoric appeared the same day as a front-page article that reports that more of our citizens are lining up at the food bank . . . .

How much easier would it be for the unemployed Rappahannock citizen if he or she could actually receive that phone call when a prospective employer calls? What about those of you who currently have jobs? Might it be easier for us to work from home, to call a sick child, or to phone an ambulance when the need is urgent?

The need for cellular service in Rappahannock County is a non-issue for most people this time around. Mr. Maxwell is just trying to make an issue when there is none. Anyone who lives here knows that cell coverage in the county is like those photos of North Korea shown at night: the ghostly darkness is medieval.

As for texting and driving cell phones and the Internet have become such an indispensable part of our daily lives that even the police have a computer in their car. Ten years ago — when Sprint was shouted down by what George Bernard Shaw would call the members of the idle rich class (MIRC) — there was no YouTube, Facebook, Google nor Twitter, and teenagers actually made voice phone calls. Now cellular service is as necessary as electricity but not yet ubiquitous for us in this particular county. To deny it to those who need it most would be cruel and elitist. Would that actually happen this time in the the throes of the Great Recession? Would anyone try to derail any slight uptick in commerce that might abate the misery around us? I would hope not.

Walker Elliott Rowe

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