My phone is dead.

Really dead.  Even the stripes are gone.  It lived a way longer life than it should have.  It deserves a rest.  (Please, please, nobody say that in front of my car, it might get ideas, too.)  In fact, I bear some responsibility, and it took me days to figure out that it was subconscious phone destruction.

See, a couple of weeks ago, my mother went to Brussels for a visit.  There was an airport mishap. My phone started ringing before I woke up with people looking for a middleman.  The first message I got was, “Katherine? I am at the airport in baggage claim? And something horrible has happened to your sister? I can’t find her so I know something horrible has happened, and I don’t know what to do, and….sob….WHY DON’T YOU EVER ANSWER YOUR PHONE?…sob.”   The second message I got was, “Hey! So sorry, I left my phone at home.  We can’t find Mom. If she calls you, tell here we’re here.”  There was groggy cursing, and skyping of overseas cell phones, and communication of the fact that all parties involved and calling me were 50 feet apart, but couldn’t see each other, and then my sister’s translator boyfriend started cursing unhelpful airport personnel out fluently in a variety of languages.

At this point I was late for work, and set my phone on the edge of the shower, knowing I was still the middleman.  My resourceful mother calls me again, and I direct her 50 feet away to my sister, on the other side of security at baggage claim.  And then my phone slipped out of my hand and a little piece went flying up into the air.  I realized six hours later that it was still wet from being answered in the shower.  That evening my phone and I were drenched by the flying beer at the Pour House, and the next day the water bottle in my purse leaked on it. It stayed dead for about three days, and amazingly, it turned itself back on as I was in the parking lot ready to buy a new one.  The next day, I dropped it again.  This time it went all floppy, but held itself together by one single wire.  I held it together with a rubber band until I got my Christmas bonus.

“I’m looking at your old phone, and I’m thinking you’re the girl who wants to pay the $9.99 a month for insurance on the new one,” says the guy at Verizon, when I go to get my new one.  He’s right.  He’s a smartass. But he’s right.

My new one isn’t here yet.  Right after I ordered my new phone, the sound died on my old one.  I could text for a couple of days, then the screen went striped.  It’s all over. It was taunting me with beeps for incoming texts which I couldn’t read, so I laid it to rest.  Being phoneless for a couple of holiday weeks was unintentional, or at least only subconsciously intentional, but all things considered, it’s been fine.

I didn’t get sentimental until the just before the screen went, when I scrolled through my stored texts and pictures one last time.  There was a picture of the Sears Tower in the snow, from my first day in Chicago. There were first-day-of school pictures of my niece and nephew.  There was a text from the day we had the first Intimidating Food Party, when one by one, every guest sent a panicked “Running late!” message, and it all turned out great.  There was a celebratory Obama/snow day message, and a message from the day I won the Motorco Spelling Bee, and a text from the day the SWAT team raided my house with riot shields thinking there was an intruder inside.  There was a text from my sister, saying, “hiking fab. icy lake. underwear. Alarmed old fisherman, ha!” which if you know my sister, captures a lot of her, in a good way. There was a message from a memorable evening out, stating, “We found that guy. He’s over here.”  And a related text, saying cryptically, “I swear I just saw (names withheld to protect the dignity of all involved, if it’s not already too late for that) outside of Snoopy’s talking to a pregnant black guy in a wife beater.” There were lots of stories witnessed by that beat-up phone, one way or the other.

My new phone is a huge step up.  I’m sure it’ll do all kinds of things I can’t begin to imagine. There will be a portable personal assistant who will do my bidding, and I will be able to skype my family from anywhere.  But it’s not here yet. Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy a little quietude.  If anyone needs me, send up a smoke signal.

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2 Responses to Incommunicado

  1. I saved yours because a) it was hilarious, and b) it was obvious from such a concise, beautifully crafted sliver of a message that you, friend, are a writer.

  2. Arrie says:

    This is simply beautiful. While I might lobby that you should’ve upgraded a long time ago (you’re going to love it, I promise), I’m sad you’ve lost those messages. When I upgraded, I lost a precious picture of my best friend, adorably pregnant, holding up a sign with my name on it at the train station.

    People outwardly bemoan their dependence on their phones, forgetting they can be tiny journals of sorts, in the end. I’m glad you got sentimental about a little piece of technology. And I’m so proud to see my own message featured.

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