Phonetics

This is a tale of survival. I share it with the intent of helping others if ever they find themselves in the same harrowing circumstances. Take heed, people, because if I can survive without a phone for 48 hours, there is hope for us all.

Your iPhone makes a very specific sound when it smacks the hard, unforgiving ground. It is the sound of dread. It is the heavy exhale when you hope only screen repair is in your future but the possibility of a new phone purchase looms over you like the Grim Reaper.

That catastrophic noise rang out approximately 500 miles and seven hours from home. You know, when most inconvenient events occur. When I bent down to retrieve my battered phone, my life flashed before my eyes. OK, maybe not my life per se but my social life. I mean, my phone is the only thing that makes me even remotely cool.

Given the fact that my phone was already a little cracked with the case peeling off the back, the damage looked passable at first inspection. That was until I tried to push a button or two. The screen was not cooperating at all. If I hit the text icon there was nothing … NOTHING.

Who am I if not a texter?

I was torn between dramatically wailing and trying to hide the whole situation from my husband whom, I swear, has never had a cracked screen in his life. Seriously, he should be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most meticulous iPhone owner in history.

But far from home and children who send approximately 30 texts an hour, I had to fess up. The phone was going to be an epic “I told you so moment” for my husband, and I was going to have to suck it up because he was my lifeline home.

Sigh.

But what is it about a broken phone that we just cannot accept? We turn it off and on. We charge it to full capacity. Soak it in rice. We keep pushing the buttons thinking they will suddenly start working. Not having a phone is one thing, but having it and not being able to use it is one of Dante’s nine circles of hell.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a total loss. If I had 15 minutes to spare, I could fumble my way through contacts and make one phone call. However, I couldn’t swipe, scroll or type anything else. If a new text came in, I could see it and the reply bar just dared me to try it every time.

If I pushed even one letter, the phone became possessed, randomly typing nonsense without me touching anything. The following was a reply to my poor son

“Mmmmmmm yes Hmmxc znnnnnn b mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”

This message was some odd hybrid of talk to text and the keyboard letters above the reply space. Thank God the send button didn’t work. Because no son needs to get texts from mom starting off with

“mmmmmm yes”

I made do with my husband’s phone, but it was not nearly as much fun. He kept asking for it back like I was a liability or something. What does he know anyway?

I had a seven-hour car ride home on I-95 on a Sunday without a phone. Let that sink in for a minute. I couldn’t read the books I had downloaded, check email or anything fun. My FOMO was running high. Traveling with another couple meant I was not in my usual shotgun position but relegated to the backseat of the car instead.

I had never really been back there before. Wow. No wonder my kids want to run errands with me; they have it made. There is an electrical outlet, phone charger, individualized temperature settings and reclining captain’s seats.

I unearthed my computer from the cargo area and plugged her in. Without a hot spot, though, I had limited options; just reading and writing like a one-room schoolhouse.

Boring.

As I sat in the backseat staring out the window, I was transported back to when I was a child taking road trips with my parents. Even though I swore I would die of boredom back then, no one ever actually did. We just stared out the window, talked, listened to static-filled radio and the miles flew by.

And that is how I survived without my phone. I remembered life before I had one. I listened to some talk radio and football games, chatted with my fellow passengers and got glimpses of scenery I would have otherwise missed,

By Monday morning, I had actually gotten used to it and wasn’t even attempting to read texts anymore. I didn’t rush to the screen repair shop when it opened because the urgency was gone.

Maybe we should all “break” our phones occasionally and let it ground us again. I didn’t just survive, I thrived.

Mostly.

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