Last week I received a mysterious call from a friend. His voice was animated but distant, as if he was hollering from inside a barrel, possibly while rolling around in the back of a truck.
“CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
I kept saying his name and saying I could hear him, but he clearly couldn’t hear me.
There followed silence and what sounded like more clunking.
Then I heard his voice again, still muffled and as if from a distance. Now he was yelling, “Hey Siri! Hey Siri! Hey Siri!”
“I can hear you,” I said. “Can you hear me?”
Then we disconnected.
I’m generally slow to alarm, but I was immediately uneasy. I knew this particular friend was on a three-day solo drive through a remote part of the West. He is also a tech whiz with a calm demeanor. Not the sort of fellow to go around helplessly yelling at his handset. I wondered if he was lying injured some distance from his phone. Or if he had been abducted.
I dialed him twice and both calls went straight to voicemail. So I sent him two texts and an email, pasting the same message into each in the hopes one might get through: “got phone call from you then disconnected and heard you talking to Siri just checking yr OK.”
Just then I got a text from an unfamiliar number: “Yo! This is (me).” (He used his name — I won’t.)
“Ah, good,” I texted with relief.
He replied: “Do you still have my car app?”
Well over a year ago I borrowed his vehicle. It’s one of those new ones that comes with its own app, and I had downloaded it to my phone. I checked, and sure enough, buried several screens deep beside the Yatzy, there it was.
I confirmed, and he texted back: “can you log in and unlock my car?”
And so it was, from a distance of 2,102 miles and three time zones, I tapped my phone, and shortly thereafter received a text from what was now obviously a phone he’d borrowed from a stranger: “he’s in.”
“Dude,” I texted back, “I feel like we just landed on Mars.”
“It’s a shining moment in human progress,” he replied. Then, “Holy cow that was a cluster****. Car key, phone, and Apple Watch, all locked in the car.”
He thanked me then, and we both prepared to go about our day. But then I got to thinking and texted him again: “Wait a minute … WERE YOU YELLING AT SIRI THROUGH THE WINDOW!?!?”
“LIKE A MAD MAN,” he replied.
As of this writing he is safely back home but we have yet to speak in person. I have exceptionally high hopes for the reenactment.
An original “Roughneck Grace” column exclusive to the Wisconsin State Journal. Audio versions may air on “Tent Show Radio” (tentshowradio.com). Read more from Michael Perry at www.sneezingcow.com.