A small rural town in the Midwest has no cellphone signal at all. Last
week I was driving thru that town and developed vehicle problems, late
at night. The only businesses that might have been open that late would
have been taverns, but they were closed.
I grabbed my cell intending to call a friend to come help me, but I got
"NO SERVICE". I grabbed my tools, popped open the hood, and began trying
to find the problem. That's when I noticed smoke coming across the roof
of a restaurant building. At first I thought it was just a chimney from
a wood stove or something like that, and the smoke was just rolling
across the roof. (It was cold that night). But just to be sure, I
grabbed my flashlight and walked over to the building and looked around.
I saw no flames, so I just assumed it was a chimney, but I could not see
any chimney either, since the smoke was covering my view of the roof,
with only a flashlight.
I went back to working on my car, and occasionally looked at that roof.
The smoke seemed to be getting less, so I just figured it was just a
chimney. One and a half hours later I was able to find the car problem,
which was repairable and did not require any new parts to get home
(corroded electrical connection). I got my car running, and looked at
that building one more time, and still saw no flames or sign of any
actual fire. I was tired and glad to have my car running again, and I
drove home, knowing that the next day I'd do a more permanent repair on
The next morning I went to the auto parts store to get what I needed,
and told the guy how I had gotten stranded in that small town last
night. He said "did you see the huge fire there?" I asked what burned.
He said the restaurant burned to the ground. I later found that someone
called in the fire about 3 hours after I initially saw the smoke. I
nearly became sick to my stomach after he told me.
Normally, I would have called 911 and suggested that they come and check
that building, and told them I dont see any actual fire, but it looks
suspicious. But I could not use my cellphone to make the call. If I had
seen an actual fire, I would have banged on house doors and hopefully
woke someone up, but I did not want to wake someone up because of smoke
coming from a chimney.
Ive felt sort of sick about this ever since, but even more angry because
that town has no means of calling for help in an emergency. Until 3 or 4
years ago, there was a payphone there, but that's now gone. So, to make
myself feel better, I called the phone company and asked them why the
payphone was removed. They said payphones are obsolete. I did not hold
back when I said "OBSOLETE MY ASS, WHEN THERE IS NO CELLPHONE SERVICE
THERE. THERE WAS ALREADY A BUILDING LOST, MUST SOMEONE DIE BEFORE
SOMETHING IS DONE?". I told the same thing to the sheriffs and fire
chief when I told them what I saw.
We supposedly have all this high technology these days. We have all
these laws to protect us from every damn thing, such as seatbelt laws,
smoking restrictions, product alerts over lead, and all sorts of other
toxics, and the list goes on. But are we really any safer? Maybe the
big cities are, but not these rural areas. They are worse off than they
used to be. There is no excuse that payphone can not still be there. Who
cares if it's obsolete. It's NOT OBSOLETE when that is all that can be
used in a town like that.
Anyhow, I do not and will not accept that answer. I have now contacted
some of the top politicians in the state and county, and will continue
to persue this until something is done. I was told they plan to install
a cellphone tower, but I found that was planned 4 years ago, and nothing
has been done. I said, "even if they do eventually build a cell tower,
what happens until then?" JUST PUT THE DAMN PAYPHONE BACK!
I'm sure the phone companies have lots of unused payphones, and all it
takes is a half hour of time and a few screws and some wire to connect
it. Why is that so difficult??????
By the way, the fire began in the attic and was caused by electrical
issues. Becase of a metal roof, it remained concealed.