I didn’t drop it in water, didn’t let it slip down the stairs, didn’t hand it to my son to be thrown to the tile ground at the supermarket. I had just hung up from a call (“Julie, please call me when you get that amendment signed”) and placed it on the counter. When I picked it up again to text the babysitter to let her know I was going to be a little late picking up my son, nothing. Just my stunned, ghostly reflection staring back at me from black screen as I fumbled with the power button, home button, power button, home button. Nothing happened. I felt a rising panic. My phone was broken. Gone forever. It had served me well for three and a half years, and now it was a brick. How was I going to function without my phone?? I have a child under 12 months old and I work from home half the time!
I had the babysitters phone number written down somewhere, but where? I began rummaging through my purse, kitchen drawers, the stack of junk on top of the fridge. I don’t have any phone numbers memorized outside of my immediate family, and I remember texting them the sitters number… did they save it? I picked up the house phone, which is practically antique and never used, and dialed my son’s father. No answer. I called him three more times and left him a message that I knew he wouldn’t listen to- “my phone is broken. Call me on this number PLEASE.” I dialed my mom and my sisters next, and when I got no answer from them either, I ran to my laptop and opened a new e-mail item to my son’s father. “My phone is broken. I need the babysitter’s number. I just called you four times and left a message. Call me back on that number or email me here.” There was a better chance he would respond to my email than my phone calls.
While I waited for him to respond, I tried to figure out what to do next. I had an old flip phone somewhere in the house, but it wasn’t charged and I definitely didn’t have the charger. Could Verizon charge it for me and switch service to that phone? I’d already used my upgrade in January on a new iPhone, the screen of which was now cracked irreparably after I’d thrown it (mature, right?) at my son’s father/then-husband in a wine-fueled argument and it had tumbled down three flights of cement stairs outside our apartment. I was currently using my old iPhone 4 that was three years old and wasn’t due for an upgrade until January 2016. And I’m cheap and broke, so a new smartphone was out of the question now. What if Verizon couldn’t restore the old flip phone? I prayed I could buy a used phone or simple, standard phone for a reasonable price, otherwise I’d have to go without until I could figure something out or find someone I knew with an unused Verizon phone they could sell to me, or, preferably, just give to me out of the kindness of their heart. I hadn’t backed up my phone in over a year, so most of my contacts would be lost. I shuddered at having to do the mass e-mail thing begging for phone numbers, and I don’t have Facebook, so if I didn’t have someone’s e-mail then I wouldn’t get their number until I heard from them. It dawned on my how little I suddenly cared about having a smartphone. Faced with the fact that I may have to revert to the cellular technology of 10 years ago with my little Motorola flip phone as my back up, all I cared about was being able to get ahold of people. All that other stuff that comes attached to the smartphone- e-mail on the go, twitter, my banking apps, internet surfing whenever I want it- how important is all that, really? I work on a computer 8 hours a day, and have a computer at home, so what’s the point of having one literally attached to my hip? It wasn’t too long ago that I didn’t even own a cell phone, and if I needed to talk to someone I had to call them on the house phone or from a pay phone or go find them. I’d become so used to having my phone as my little personal assistant and entertainment-on-the-go that I’d forgotten what life was like before it. I pushed the power button again- nothing. I plugged the phone into the charger in my bedroom and left it there for the remainder of the day.
My ex returned my e-mail. “Thanks for letting me know. The sitters number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.” I immediately dialed her from my house phone. She didn’t answer, either. I left her a message that I would be fifteen- well, now, thirty minutes late picking up my son, and to call me back on this number if there were any issues since my phone was broken. When I returned to my inbox, the signed amendment was there waiting for me. My company uses Microsoft Lync messenger, so I IMed one of my coworkers and asked her to call Cathy to let her know I had the signed document and would upload it for processing. I gave my coworker my home phone number and asked her to share it with Cathy and any others who may need it.
And then I felt calm. I would go to Verizon after picking up my son and see what they could do to help. But really, would it be so bad if I had to go without a phone for a bit? I thought of no more text messages, just phone calls, no more email buzzing incessantly at me during dinner or late at night, no more CNN Breaking News updates in real time, and I felt at ease. I could do this no phone thing. No problem.
Well, in the end, Verizon fixed my iPhone. Apparently there is a reset trick that, like, everyone knows but me, and the sales rep did that to my phone and sent me on my way. So my phonepocalypse only lasted about 5 hours. But still, it was a learning experience. I deleted most of my apps. I bought an address book and wrote down every single contact in my phone, and put colored post-it tabs on the pages that have my son’s sitter, pediatrician, and grandparents on his father’s side. I turned off notifications on my phone, and I removed my work e-mail account. I’m definitely not where I was ten years ago, and I’m not back to the technology basics, but it’s definitely better than the phone obsessed me that existed a week ago. And the changes were easier than I thought. Maybe, just maybe, when I upgrade in 2016, I’ll treat myself to the simplest of flip phones there is. Maybe.