Friday, April 5, 2013

The stages of phone grief

A few days ago, my phone died the final death.  It was my first smart phone, the first phone with which I could check e-mail and facebook and twitter.  It made texting 1,000 times easier than with my old phone.  I loved that phone.  I loved that phone with the unnatural love of a woman who is fundamentally shy and socially anxious, with a fear of talking on the phone, who finally found a way to feel connected without sitting at a computer. I don’t call people, but I can chat with my bestie in our ongoing scrabble game, show my parents and mother-in-law pics of their grandbabies, and share funny things the kids say or just funny things that I think.  I recognize that sometimes it’s good to unplug, and I also recognize that maybe I have a little eensy-weensy problem with unplugging.  It has been pointed out to me, believe me.  But I can’t help it.  I’m attached.  Attached to feeling connected, attached to checking in without having to face my phobia of calling people, attached to Word Hero or Drop7 or Candy Crush or whatever game is my waiting-room game du jour.  I’m attached to my phone.

I’ve dropped it a few times.  It had a crack or two across the screen, not a spiderweb, just a few minor cracks.  It was just so sexy, all sleek and smooth, without a protective cover.  It felt good in my hand, and slid into my pants so easily.  Bzzzzzz.  Mmmm, I love you phone. 

And then it happened.  I was crouched on the floor in the coat room of the Maryland Science Center, trying to get a shot of my kids and their cousin, all of whom had wedged themselves into adjacent cubbies as if to say, “Please, please, mommy, take our picture.”  Except I dropped my phone.  And there was a disheartening clunk.  I picked it up, my heart in my throat, but no… no new cracks!  Had I dodged a bullet?  It had turned off in the fall, and when I pushed the power button, it showed some weird lines not in any way resembling anything.  Uh oh.

Stage 1 of phone grief:  Denial.  My phone isn’t dead.  It’s just stuck in some weird mode.  It will be OK.  You remove the battery and put it back in.  Fingers crossed.  It’s all going to be OK.  If you’re me, you stay at this stage for quite some time, removing and replacing the battery three or four times to be really sure.  And then again an hour later, just in case it went into spontaneous remission.

Stage 2: The forgetting.  Let’s say you’re still at the science center.  And your kids are playing with a sort of simulated tornado thing.  You reach for your phone to take a photo… and then you remember.  Shit.  You have no phone.  This stage was particularly difficult for me.  Even after I got home, I kept reaching into my pocket, not feeling my phone, and thinking… “Where’s my phone?  Oh, right… it’s dead.”  And then I would weep.  Not really.  Just on the inside.  This happened over and over until I finally just put my dead phone in my pocket and carried it around so I would stop wondering where it was. 

Stage 3: The realization.  You realize… I don’t have a phone!  Crap!  This hit me hard when driving home from the science center.  I had to drive without a phone.  What if my car broke down?  What if I got into an accident?  What if my husband was trying to reach me?  What if aliens chose me for first contact and I couldn’t get a photo of them to upload to facebook?  Shit.  I don’t have a phone.

Stage 4: The research.  OK.  You’re going to need a new phone.  You are beginning to accept it, even though your dead phone is still in your pocket like a freakish security blanket.  You begin evaluating options for a new phone. 

Stage 5: The new phone.  If you’re me, within a few hours you’re at a store getting your new phone.  Because seriously, how are you going to watch the Idol results show without multitasking on your phone?  I mean, you can’t just sit and watch that schlock.  You vaguely listen in case someone doesn’t suck, glance up at the fashion so you can pretend you have your finger on some kind of pulse and don’t just wear jeans or yoga pants every day, and screw around on your phone.  No?  Just me?  So anyway, you need a new phone, like, 5 minutes ago.

Stage 6: The transition.  You have your new phone.  It’s annoyingly different from your old phone.  The buttons are in the wrong place.  You can’t figure out how to turn off the little beep that happens with every single keystroke.  It keeps autocorrecting f*cking to ducking and doesn’t have douchebag in its dictionary.  You have to add all of your favorite slang and swear words into the dictionary again.  For a minute you think you have lost all of your old Word Hero statistics and have to start in the unrated league again, but then it remembers your username and puts you back in Diamond where you belong.  Whew.  You take the memory card out of your old phone, caress its lifeless form in a loving goodbye, and put all of your photos and videos into your new phone. 

Stage 7: Love again.  Your new phone is so shiny.  It’s 4G.  It’s sexy.  Wow, it can take a burst of photos, and the camera is really much better across the board.  The screen is so big and bright.  Photos upload to facebook in, like, seconds without error messages.  You get a nice protective case for your new love, and promise to treat it better.  You love again.  It buzzes in your pocket.  The buzz is stronger.  You smile.

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