A recent trip home following a concert by the Drive-By Truckers in Iowa City brought home the reality of how our location can be tracked by others. And here’s a news flash… it’s not being done as a result of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
My wife Aggie and I planned to attend the concert with another couple. After one of them couldn’t attend, we made the decision to pick up our friend, Tracy, at her house and drop her off on the way back. My wife, never one to miss a good night’s sleep, decided to sleep in the back seat of our Ford Escape on the way home from Iowa City.
She was still asleep when we dropped Tracy off. Aggie rustled around in the back, said goodnight to Tracy and informed me she was staying in the back seat to sleep.
The rustling in the back seat is important to this story, as that’s when we assume Aggie hit 911 on her phone, which rang into a dispatcher’s office. Since there was no answer from Aggie, the dispatcher remained on the line and notified authorities.
By the time I was in the next town, a Buchanan County Sheriff deputy pulled me over, asking if I had a cell phone in the car. It was 12:30 a.m.
The deputy already knew that I was driving the car the call was coming from. When I told him no one from this vehicle had called 911, he assured me that he could hear our very conversation through his dispatcher.
Imagine what went through the deputy’s mind. No call was made from my cell phone and I was the only person he saw in the vehicle. That is, until he looked in the back seat and saw my wife below the window.
What followed was a request for my license, vehicle registration and a quick summary of where we had been that evening. Everything the deputy did was professional, courteous and above board.
Eventually, he asked Aggie to step out of the vehicle to talk with him out of my earshot. He asked her if she was really OK and told her she didn’t need to get back into the car with me if she felt threatened.
Soon Aggie was back in the car, the officer assured us we had done nothing wrong and we were on our way.
The last thing I want is for someone to be able to track me. But I never worried about that when I receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
As for my cell phone, each month I actually receive a summary from my phone carrier about the places I have been. It’s a trade-off. For the convenience of having a cell phone, I put up with that phone keeping tabs on me. Every time I get that summary, I have to shake my head at people who choose not to get vaccinated because they fear being tracked by the government. I’m pretty sure most of them have a cell phone.
I hope no one I know is ever kidnapped or threatened by a spouse or partner. But if they are, it’s comforting to know the technology is there that can possibly help keep them safe if they can activate 911.
Aggie and I have been married for over 38 years. While she doesn’t attend as many concerts as me, I think it’s a safe bet the ride home from this one will be one we won’t forget, even if she did sleep most of the way home.