The kids are off to college; Victoria in Savannah and Antonio in Boston. They are both in cities (albeit different types), but because there is plenty of action in both, Patricia and I do not want to take the risk of them taking public transportation or walking home late at night, so we had them set up Uber accounts with credit cards that we pay for. We are happy to do so and just expect the kids to not take advantage of our pocketbook. My eldest is a bit frugal and occasionally uses the option. My youngest, on the other hand, is a man about town and has been talked to a few times to reel it in. This story is about him and Uber.
I am friends with my kids on Snapchat and they are very comfortable allowing Patricia and I to locate them for piece of mind. I understand some parents disagree with being able to locate their college-aged kids. That’s fine. I completely disagree and get comfort knowing they are at their dorms late night on the weekends, although my son and his friends have been known to take a jaunt into Boston late night for social activities. I like to keep tabs on this behavior as well.
One Saturday night this fall I had fallen asleep on the couch about 9pm watching TV and woke up around 11:30pm, a little stiff from sleeping on the couch. As I was stretching and headed to bed, I figured I would check on my kiddos to make sure they were safe in their dorms. Victoria was in a familiar place on my screen, in the comfort of her dorm, but as I located Antonio I noticed he was in the North End of Boston. No concern there, except just before I clicked off, his icon moved. I figured he was on his way back to the dorm, but I just wanted to make sure so I watched for a minute. Unexpectedly, he was going in the opposite direction of his dorm. I continued to watch; the icon was driving toward Everett, MA. I’m thinking, “Why the hell is he going to Everett?” Now, I’m wide awake and curious. “Maybe he is dropping off someone he met?” The icon stayed dormant for about five minutes and then it was back on the move. I texted him, “Why did you go to Everett?” No answer, which is unlike him, but I figured he probably was chatting with a bud and not looking at his phone.
He was now headed in the direction of his dorm, but it wasn’t that simple. Because over the next hour I watched him drive all over the city and land just off the VFW Parkway and not at his dorm. I called and texted, but no reply. Needless to say, I was freaking out. Then it dawned on me, I am friends with his pals on Snapchat and I can see their locations too. So I look and two of his friends are in the North End. I actually feel a little relieved, because I now believe I pieced things together. I Snap one of his buds and told him I was trying to get ahold of Antonio, and did he know where he was. Immediately his bud answered me and said, “Antonio is with me, he is fine, he left his phone at the dorm.” Now I know this is untrue to some extent, because I can see the phone just off the VFW Parkway. So I said, “Can you please give Antonio your phone to call me.”
My phone rang shortly thereafter and Antonio was on the line. He proceeded to tell me he left his phone at the dorm by mistake. I told him, “No, you didn’t.” He was confused. I then said to him, “You didn’t leave your phone in the dorm, you dropped it in the Uber, I have been watching it drive around the city for the past hour and a half.” He apologized and then proceeded to tell me how liberating it was not to have his phone with him and that he was enjoying the moment. I was just happy he was safe, as a million scenarios ran through my head during his phone’s Uber journey.
The next day the Uber driver took the phone to his dorm for a reasonable fee and we added a couple of rules to “when you go off campus”. We have had a few laughs about the experience and some friends say it serves me right for following him on a location app. I was an 18 year old boy once and I have to tell you, I still want to know where he is at this age. I told the kids over break that I will pay for their phones for the rest of their lives if they let me locate them from time to time. They laughed and said, “Sure dad, we would tell you anyway.” You may agree or disagree, but no matter their age, I will always worry about them. Besides, I enjoy following them on their adventures.