The other night, I was talking to Samantha on my cell. I was at home relaxing and she was on her way back from a Mary Kay appointment. We usually call each other when we are on our way home, beginning our time together a little earlier. Yeah, I know, it’s sweet. Anyway, nature called, so I got up from the couch and headed to the bathroom. I tucked the phone between my ear and my shoulder, leaned over and lifted the lid and seat on the toilet. The next thing I know - KERPLUNK! My phone slipped from its cradle and gravity did the rest, aiming my phone straight at the toilet bowl.
I snatched the phone from the bowl, grabbed a towel, and dashed for the kitchen, wiping as I went. I ripped open the pantry door, grabbed a zip-lock sandwich bag, and snatched an open bag of jasmine rice from the shelf. The outside now dry, my phone went into the bag, followed by as much of the rice as would fit. I only hoped everything I had read on the internet about using rice to save a phone from an unfortunate encounter with water would work.
With my phone now buried in a bag of rice, I immediately felt gratitude I hadn’t yet started to pee before my phone took its swan dive. That might have been a mess rice couldn’t have solved.
Now, a few days later, I am happy to report that my phone still holds a charge, makes all the necessary sounds, reacts to swipes on the screen, and appears dry. Unfortunately, I can’t see anything on the screen. It has managed to not run out of a charge even though the last time it was plugged in was two days ago. It remains sequestered in a bag of rice on my kitchen counter.
So, since Thursday night, I have been phoneless, unconnected, and untethered to the world.
In this age of instant connectability, living life without a cell phone has been odd. When I went to teach Friday, I told Samantha I would call her to meet for lunch. She asked if I even knew her phone number. I am happy to report that after ten years, I confidently have it memorized. But, I am not sure I have many others memorized. I tried to recall friends’ numbers, family numbers, and other important numbers. I got nothing. I know mine, Samantha’s, 911, and a smattering of useless numbers from my pre-cell phone childhood. Awesome, huh.
The next trouble I encountered was red lights. I hadn’t realized how much I depended on my iPhone to get me through the red lights I encounter during my day. I don’t use my phone while driving, except for directions or to talk. When stopped though, the story changes. I think I read most of Stephen King’s latest thriller 11/22/63 at stop lights through my Kindle app. I check the weather, as if I need digital confirmation for what I can see right outside my car window. I check my email. I text. I pay bills, reload my starbucks card, learn french.
Now that I don’t have my phone, what the hell am I supposed to do with red lights?
I can look at the wildflowers outside my window. I can acknowledge the other people around me (if they weren’t all on their cell phones). I can look up at the sky and experience the beauty of the planet on which we live. I can take a moment and let my mind be still.
In a way, I find it slightly ironic, and a bit pleasing, that this happened at the beginning of Spring Break. I get a vacation from my normal weekly life and at the same time, I get a vacation from my digital shackles. I appreciate being unavailable. I can only be reached if I want to be reached. I am free to sit here, writing my blog, without the distraction of text messages, facebook notifications, myfitnesspal bothering me about entering my breakfast, or any other distractions my phone thinks up. It is nice.
Try it. Try a day or two without your phone. Let people know you are disconnecting so they don’t worry - because they will. You know they will. Then put the phone away. Turn it off. Open yourself to the world out there.
Just don’t go about it the way I did. Water and phones don’t mix. Let’s hope the rice works.