A couple of years ago, Facebook had a thing going around that said if you go into your Google Maps app, there is a feature called SOS. You add contacts to it, and if you are in an emergency situation, you turn this feature on and it will send a help message to the people on your list. It will also send pictures of whatever is going on around your phone. Well, I thought that sounded like a good idea. I’m one of those people who turns the “bee-boop” sound off on my phone buttons, just in case I’m ever kidnapped and need to make a phone call in secret. Yeah, I dream up dramatic scenarios I will never be in and try to prepare for them. Anyway, I thought this would be great for when I am eventually dragged off to my doom. So, I filled in my four contacts and promptly forgot about the whole thing… until yesterday.
My mom wanted me to come see her new house. We met up and decided she would follow me to Home Depot and then we would drive to her house from there. With those plans made, I dropped my phone in my purse, jumped in my car and headed down the road. I hadn’t been driving for more than a few minutes when my step dad sent me a text message that said “What?”
Well, I hadn’t sent him anything at all, so I just sent back “What, what?” I don’t normally text and drive, but something about his message caught my attention, it was just so out of the blue. Well, then he replied back saying that I had sent him an SOS message with two blurry pictures asking for HELP. I was also sending him updated map coordinates regarding my location.
In my head I’m thinking, no. I sent no such thing.
Well, it turns out I had. I somehow managed to toss my phone into my purse in such a way that it sent a message to four people telling them I had been kidnapped, needed help - SOS, and it actively sent them location points as I drove through the city. (OKAY, as I’m writing this, I’m going into my phone to see exactly what the steps are that my phone had to go through to do this, and I cannot figure it out. I have no idea how to even do this on purpose. My friend is Googling the steps for me right now. I’m not making this up).
After several intense seconds of internet research, it appears that the way to activate this feature is to hit the home button on my phone three times in a row or hit the sound and the power button at the same time. I had no idea.
So anyway, I’m trying to drive and assure my step dad that I am indeed fine, and my phone starts ringing. It’s my Richy, and he is now very concerned. He had also received the message that I am in some dire predicament along with two blurry pictures (of the inside of my purse no less) and map coordinates of my whereabouts. While assuring him I was fine, and still not understanding what happened, I can see mom in my rearview mirror. She is talking and gesturing on her phone too. Turns out when my best friend also got the help message and couldn’t reach me, she called my mom, who ALSO got the SOS alert. The only reason my mom wasn’t panicking was because she was behind me and could clearly see me and knew I hadn’t been chained up, drugged, or dropped off a pier.
It was nice to know that this feature does indeed work and that my chosen emergency contacts were in fact on top of it when I had an “emergency”. I now owe all of them a bottle of wine and a xanax for all the trouble, but hey, at least I know they all have my back.
I did finally figure out how to go in and turn the alert off so it would stop sending my location coordinates and pictures to everyone. Thank you to all of my friends and family who were looking out for me, and thank you Google Maps for upsetting four people with a compilation of health problems including anxiety, high blood pressure, and heart problems. We are now Googling the location of a good therapist.