It was in the mid-1980s, before the age of cell phones. What did over-achieving, workaholic professionals carry so that their companies could have unlimited access to them at every possible moment? Pocket pagers.
Pocket pagers were the greatest invention since Britain thought up indentured servants for their colonies! It was great for companies whose goal was indeed to have unlimited access to their employees…even when they were off, or on their personal vacations, or during the middle of the night when they were asleep, or shopping, at church, or well…anything outside the office. This insured that companies could target their “special” employees for this very great privilege of carrying the pocket pager. It was packaged in wording sure to illicit the proper feeling of being indispensable to the hard-working, faithful, and dependable employee. “Just in case we have a question that only you know the answer to,” …or “You’re the only one who has a clue what’s going on around here!” It worked, and their faithful employee never had a true day off again. He was on call 24/7. This new generation of indentured servants were as well-compensated for the privilege as their predecessors had been. The length of their servitude was the entire period of time that they worked for the company.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the personal and true example of one man, who due to being indispensable to his company had not taken his family on a vacation in almost three years. The man was not compensated in any way for his lost vacation time, because indentured servants are not compensated.
This man’s family consisted of a wife and three young sons, ages four, six, and eight. The family had rented a cabin on a lake, with no TV or phone. The boys were excited about fishing, hiking, and swimming with their mom and dad; especially their dad whom, quite frankly, they didn’t get to spend much time with. While the cabin in the woods did not have a telephone, the man was told it was necessary that he carry the pocket pager just in case he was needed by his company.
It was the end of the family’s first day at the cabin. They had gone fishing and fed the ducks at the lake and had a cook-out for supper. Many plans for the rest of the week were talked about, and the boys were so excited that their parents worried that they wouldn’t sleep a wink all night! Then the page came. The man needed to leave to go find a phone to call work. While he was gone, the mother and children gathered in a circle and held hands and prayed, each in his own way, that God would intervene so that “Daddy didn’t have to go back to work.” It had been so long since they had all been together like this, and they were sick at the thought of it ending, but knew that’s what usually happened when the pager went off.
The man came back and told them the bad news. Something had happened at work in his department, and as head of the department, he was the one responsible to see that it was fixed. He had told the employee who paged him what to do, but he really wasn’t holding out much hope. The man wanted to travel home the next day, leaving his family at the lake cabin… hoping to rejoin them after a few days. He was heartsick at the thought of the boys missing the time at the cabin. The wife was concerned about being at the lake alone with three small boys and no phone! In all likelihood, the entire family would be going back home in the morning. Only one small measure of hope was held out. The man had told his employee to page him if he managed to fix the problem during the night. The employee was to put in all 9s in the pager. This would be the signal that all was well, and for the man to know he could stay at the cabin with his family. Before she drifted off to sleep his wife had the thought, “Instead of nines, he should put in all sevens.” The wife knew that seven was a number that represented God, and if this problem resolved and their long-awaited vacation was not interrupted, it would be because God Himself had fixed whatever the problem was. This was what she and her sons had prayed for.
Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, the pager went off. The man stumbled across the room and looked at it. He stood there in silence for a minute. His wife impatiently asked, “Well? Is it all nines?” The man, sounding confused, said, “No. They must have misunderstood me, because I distinctly said to put in all nines. Instead, there are all sevens across this screen! Well, great. We don’t have to leave!”
The man and his family went on to enjoy every single day of their vacation. God was on duty, and no one bothered them again.