It was late afternoon, and my son’s class was returning from an overnight trip in the mountains. My cell phone–usually set to set to silent but, because of the class trip, now set to ring loudly–interrupted my thoughts. Looking up from my work, I fully expected to see a familiar name from “my contacts.” Instead, an unfamiliar number appeared on the screen.
In the seconds before I tapped the green “answer” button, Cortisol surged through my bloodstream and my blood pressure began to rise. I swallowed quickly, trying to get my heart out of my throat.
What it is about a ringing phone that makes us assume the worst?
“Hi, it’s me.” My son’s tired, hoarse voice confirmed my brain’s automatic-worry response.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” I swallowed again; my mouth was so dry I could barely speak.
“Yeah, I’m fine. We just got back to school and Ms. B. told me to call you, because my duffel bag was loaded on the wrong bus. There were 4 other schools there, you know.”
I didn’t know. Now that I knew he was okay, I didn’t really need to know anything else.
Enjoying the rush of relief, I reacted slowly to this new information.
“Wait…where is the school?” I prayed silently: Please let it be nearby. I didn’t want to drive downtown.
He named a local elementary school, no more than three miles from our house. Finally, undaunted by worries about rush-hour traffic, I reassured him that we would pick up his bag together. Then I returned the phone settings to “silent.”
Maybe I ought to find a less-jarring ring tone.