The scene was right out of a Kodak commercial: My ridiculously adorable bull terrier frolicked in the waves of the Gulf of Mexico at twilight, an enormous doggy smile plastered on her face. I just had to take a picture of this perfect moment on my phone, but it occurred to me that I should take an Instagram because then I could mess with the color and put a border around it and then make it even --- and within the nanosecond in which that unnecessary and moronic thought wave went from my brain to my fingertips -- SPLASH!
My three-month-old iPhone 5 fell in the gulf ruining my entire vacation and subsequently my life. I blamed the dog.
I have dropped electronic devices in water many times before and all of which I was able to salvage. One time my best friend spilled red wine in my laptop and it turned out just fine, luckily for our friendship. I rode a soaking log fume ride with a mesh handbag that contained a Gen 3 iPod and a blinged-out flip phone; both items survived, just some of bling fell off the phone. So, it never even occurred to me that my iPhone wouldn't make it through. I turned it on immediately and tried to take another picture (did I mention there was wine involved?).
My husband implored me to turn off the thing and leave it alone for the night, which I did and the next day it was half-working. I shut it back off for the duration of our trip; I was on vacation anyway and did I really need to be "on the grid" posting every moment on Facebook? Yes.
When we got home I put the phone in a sack of quinoa for lack of having any white rice in the house, which is what they tell you to do on the Internet. Quinoa doesn't really have the water-sucking properties that white rice does, but it does have a significant higher nutritional value. This was on a Monday and by Tuesday the phone appeared to be in some working order. Some being the operative word. The "O" key wasn't functioning, forcing me to find very creative ways to write "no" and "you" and "fuck off" to email recipients.
By Wednesday the phone had developed a mind of its own and was shooting off email responses at will. I received quite a few, "did you mean to send me a blank email?" from random people on my contact list. On Thursday the touch screen started to go and by Friday the phone refused to unlock. The only thing I was able to do was open Siri, whom I asked for help and she basically told me to fuck off, no "Os" needed on her part.
In addition to being stubborn, I am also lazy and pressed for time simultaneously and could not get the phone checked out until the following Tuesday. And so... I was without a working phone for roughly five days and guess what? I didn't die. It was almost liberating.
I had to write things down
I had a big project to complete that week that required me to run around town. Right before I was headed out into a world that lacks public Wi-Fi, it occurred to me that I would have to write a few things down in advance, which in turn made me have to think about things that I would need throughout the rest of the day. I haven't done this in ages. It might sound silly, but it was a challenge at first to predict addresses I might need, street names, directions, names of people that I had met multiple times and where the closest Smoothie King was in relation to my destination.
I drove safer than I have in years
Let's be frank with each other, none of us text and drive because it is incredibly dangerous, which is to say all of us text and drive but are well aware of how wrong this is and scoff at others who we see texting and driving in between texts. I try my damnedest not to do it, but every so often it happens. This coupled with looking at the phone for directions, chatting, Googling the fat content of Smoothie King shakes and watching videos of dogs sleep walking, has caused me to be something of an unfit driver. I fully admit it. But without my phone, I was alert, cautious and I was shocked that I had I ever did any of these things while operating a moving vehicle/killing machine.
I had to ignore emails and texts For a day here and there the phone was still alerting me of text messages but since I couldn't unlock the phone, I was unable to respond. At first this put me in a state of sheer panic; people will think I'm ignoring them! But after a day or so, I stopped worrying about it. I'd get back to them when I could and the world would go on, and it did.
I used it to my advantage
"Oh, I haven't checked Facebook today because I don't have a phone, so I was completely unaware that you're speed-walking a 1K to support your child's woodblock marching band and are soliciting donations. Sorry!" I watched an entire episode of a television program Of course I have many other pieces of electronic equipment available to suck my attention away from the television, but my phone is my diversion of choice. Why fully pay attention to a show when you could also be IMBDing all of the actors and playing Words with Friends? Without my go-to distraction, I just sat there and watched, and you'll never believe what happened? I didn't miss anything and wasn't at all confused at the end. Go figure.
I used my landline
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I set up a phone interview before it occurred to me that, "Shoot, I don't have a phone." And then I remembered that I pay AT&T $20 a month for a genuine, bonafide landline. The bonus of using the landline was that I had to sit still for the duration of the call because it's connected to a wall! I am sure I have never paid better attention to someone on the other end in my adult life.
I had to make actual plans and be on time I am perpetually late. To me, being anywhere within fifteen minutes after the time you are supposed to meet equates to being early. Without the crutch of a "running late" text, I was forced to give myself "extra time" to get to a destination. This was mind blowing.
I considered never replacing my phone That thought lasted all of 15 seconds, but it occurred to me no less.
Would I go without a phone for five days again? I sure would. I am considering doing it once a year like one of those self-inflicted GOOP elimination diets, a phone cleanse if you will. Try it for yourself; I promise you won't die.