When All Else Failed

Tonight is the fourth and final night of this week’s road trip and I’ll be back home tomorrow evening. The weather has been outstanding these last few days with below average temperatures and low humidity. I’ve taken advantage of it by spending a lot of time on long walks in the neighborhoods around the hotel. Tonight, I wanted to do something a little different so I decided to take in a movie.

It’s at this point that I should back up a little, and tell you that a few days ago a friend and co-worker who knows I’m a radio amateur, told me about seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and he made a point of telling me that ham radio plays a small role in the movie.

That was a good enough for me, so after work I headed directly to the Regal 16, a mammoth “cave” of sixteen theaters with enough entertainment and air conditioning under one roof to qualify as one of the many wonders of the world. Tickets for the non-3D early show at 5pm were $10.50 a pop although flashing my AARP card got me in the door for eight bucks.

It pays to get old and I’ve started taking advantage every chance I get.

The movie was a little better than just “okay” and I enjoyed it though, this isn’t a review or a spoiler. What I found most interesting was watching, and waiting, for that part that included ham radio. As the movie portrayed civilization descending into a dystopian nightmare, it wasn’t hard to see what was probably coming – ham radio as the only communications link with the “outside” world. And sure enough, that’s precisely how it played out.

In case you’re wondering, we briefly saw what appeared to be an older Kenwood transceiver, maybe a TS-820, setting on a shelf with a lot of other gear, all somehow magically connected to a computer with a display that looked like it might be running some sort of digital communication – though every call for help in the movie was done via phone.

Ham radio finds itself wrapped up in mainstream productions and attractions more often than you might think. But almost every time it’s in this same vein. Total breakdown of society that creates a world that suddenly needs ham radio. And often, though not in this particular movie, the radio operator is portrayed as some oddball nerd who couldn’t get laid with a fistful of pardons in a women’s prison.

Hollywood’s view of us is rarely, if ever, accurate. But let’s face it, we’ve spent the last several decades vociferously proclaiming ourselves to be the last link in a breaking chain when things come unglued. “When all else fails” is our mantra but I’m convinced that every time we say that, the rest of the world hears “hams are pathetic nerds who only have value in the event of Armageddon”.

If we want to be portrayed in a better light, perhaps it’s time we modify our message?

Author: Jeff Davis