I plugged in my iPhone in for a routine overnight charge when it began to reject its cord. "Bleep bleep," the display flashed, "bleep bleep." I removed the white lifeline, and plugged it back in. "Bleep bleep," it repeated – flash – "bleep bleep." Puzzlement.
The phone displayed twenty percent remaining battery life. I raced against time to get a charge into the fading phone – swapping cords, changing power sources, even trying the magical two-button-reboot. No luck; Siri died a slow death; fifteen percent, ten, five, zero, and the display went black.
A food blogger needs her phone. More than a medium of communication, my iPhone served dutifully as a camera, a radio, a social media check-in device (I’ve lost two mayorships since I’ve been without my phone). It’s a log of where I’ve been, what I’ve eaten, and offers insulation in awkward social settings and a diversion in boring ones. It wasn’t just a phone, it was an extension of my palm, a part of me. I dressed it in a purple Speck case, that had a slot for my drivers license, a credit card, and bit of cash. It was all I needed to move efficiently about society.
And there it was, my jailbroken iPhone, dead in my palm. Helpless and heartbroken, I gave my husband the news. Hoping for a miracle, he Googled the symptoms. He determined the cause of death to be the battery, and ordered a new one that night.
The first day without my phone, I was lost. I didn’t leave the house; I felt naked and vulnerable. How would the school reach me if there was an emergency? What if my car broke down? What if I missed an email? And, how? Lord! How did people move about before the advent of cell phones?
Diligently checking tracking numbers, I waited for the new battery to arrive. When it did, my husband set to operating. He spread a black cloth napkin on the kitchen table, and turned the dimmer switches all the way up. I watched the procedure the way people watch televised caesarian sections. But, there was a complication. When trying to remove the old battery, he realized his jeweler’s tools were not fit for the job. Botched! Dutifully, that night, he Googled again, and ordered the appropriate tools for the job. Again, I awaited delivery.
I was four days without my phone, and in the midst of a sensory adjustment period. In a crowd, a phone would ring out just as mine did, and I’d react, patting my pockets, then forlorn, remembering, I was iPhone-less. I felt awkward. What should I do with my hands when I’m walking? To fill the void in my palm, I began to carry my keys in my hand. And, what should I look at when I’m walking? Should I just look around? Perhaps, acknowledge people? Wave? Smile? A strange new world it was.
When the tools arrived, eight days after the time of death, my husband set to operating again. I watched as the old battery came out and the new one was secured in its place. Miraculously, my phone came on and showed a twenty percent charge, and mail began to download. We rejoiced at the resuscitation. "You are so smart!" I told my husband, and bestowed a big hug and kiss.
I picked up my premium phone, gazing into its aluminosilicate glass, and caressing its sleek, caseless, oleophobic coated frame, and plugged it in. "Bleep bleep" it responded - flash - "bleep bleep."
"Noooo!!" The phone was still rejecting the cord. The transplant was fruitless. So close to a cure, "Why?" I cried.
"That’s it," my husband said, not feeling quite as brilliant as he did a moment ago, "I give up, you’re going back to a Windows phone." But that was not acceptable. He may be a PC, but I’m a devoted Mac. "I’d rather have no phone at all!" Met with such resistance, and the fact that the phone was no longer covered by our service plan, my husband thought it economical to once again consult Google for another home remedy. This took days.
By day ten, the withdrawal symptoms began to recede and like any good romance, the separation anxiety began to quell. I started to enjoy having an extra hand available, for waving, or whatever. I tripped far less, too, as I was now looking up when I walked. I began, once again, to live in real time, and to talk to people, to look at trees, and to become aware that real birds chirp, too, not just apps. No longer distracted by vibrations and telegraph tones, I wonder, how rude had I become? How unsociable? How unhuman?
When my husband came to terms with the fact that he couldn’t cure my cell phone, I called Catcom in Montclair, an authorized Apple repair shop. After a diagnostic the iPhone professional determined that it could be one of three things: the board, the dock or the battery. We knew it wasn’t the battery, and since it worked fine when it briefly revived, we assumed it wasn’t the board.
The dock is on order from Apple, and I’m more than two weeks into not having a cell phone. I might call the shop next week to see if it’s fixed. To prevent a relapse, I’ll be changing my iPhone lifestyle. I will no longer downward dog with the brilliant LCD screen between my hands. I resolve to change my email setting from "push" to "manual." All those apps, with their vibrating, chirping, and swooshing notifications, are going to bite the dust, too. It will be a cellular phone that rings when someone calls – and nothing more than that.
This article first published by The Montclair Times of North Jersey Media Group.