01 March 2011


On Friday, February 18, 2011, at approximately 4:30 AM, I lost my phone.

I spent my last moments with my phone as follows.  I was in Newark Airport, about to board the morning's first flight bound for Houston.  I was sitting near the departure gate on something that resembled a radiator.  I took my phone out of its black leather case, opened it up, and checked in with work, Facebook and, possibly, Twitter.  I may have sent a text message or e-mail to my at-home helper, who was dogsitting in my absence.  I carefully tapped "settings" and put the phone into airplane mode, and then I closed it and tucked it away somewhere.  My purse?  A pocket?  It doesn't matter, because an hour later, it was gone forever.

The flight crew searched the plane carefully for it.  The TSA denied having seen it at all.  Continental Airlines - well, don't get me started about Continental.  They are about to be swallowed by United, and I take that as a sign that there is some sort of justice in the world.

My phone was a Motorola Droid, about two years old.  When I got it, it replaced a Blackberry and was just about the hottest thing on the market.  It integrated perfectly with my Gmail, played Pandora Radio on my bedside table, woke me with a pleasant alarm each morning, and kept me connected to both my office and my family.  Its ringtone, a silly robotic voice that said "droyyyyd" every time I got a text message, sent everyone around me into giggles.  I caused a sensation in my office by being the first person to make the leap from Blackberry to Something Else. 

My husband also got a Droid at the same time I did, but he didn't like it.  I, on the other hand, embraced it.  Sure, it was different, and hard to learn at first.  The touch screen is a little temperamental.  But I love gadgets and am always up for a leap into a new technology.  I was the first person I knew, for example, to have a Kindle.  I carry a netbook almost everywhere (even in my knitting bag, if you can imagine such a marriage of high- and low-tech hobbies).  I love my iPod; in addition to listening to podcasts and music, I use it to play Scrabble on a daily basis with a former colleague right here in New York and a friend who lives an ocean away.  I'm on both Twitter and Facebook, and, as you know, I keep a blog.  In short, I feel that, for a woman of my age, I am fairly well up-to-date.

Imagine my devastation at having lost my phone.

At first, I panicked.  I made everyone stand there and wait in the Houston airport while we scoured the plane.  My purse is one of those L.L.Bean "healthy back" quasi-backpack deals, with a big outside pocket from which my phone could have easily slipped.  How would I stay in touch with my office?  Keep track of my kids?  Chat with my husband?  Delegate tasks to the nanny?  Obsessively check my e-mail for dispatches from my mom?

My mom.  Here's a woman, bright, professional, and well-educated, surrounded by people who love her, active in her community and connected to her family, and only just learning to send e-mails.  Here's a woman who raised four children without benefit of ATM card, cell phone, Facebook, or text messages.  No Peg Perego convertible double stroller.  No extra set of sneakers at the gym.  No Weight Watchers iPhone app.  Her best friend lived down the street, and when she needed a chat, she actually got up, grabbed her keys, and headed down to Susie's house for a cup of coffee.  (When Susie moved away, my mom wrote her letters.  Letters.  On paper, with a postage stamp.  Imagine.)  There was no nanny.  There was Grandma.  There were also the other ladies on our street:  Mrs. Burton next door, Mrs. Colldeweih on the corner, Mrs. Lundberg down the hill.  They all had cookies and Band-Aids and backyards.  As far as I know, none of them had cell phones.  And yet, they managed to communicate, and to look out for each other's kids whenever necessary.

My mom probably doesn't know this, but she is an inspiration to me in many ways.  I went more than a week without a phone.  I checked my work e-mail only once, from a laptop, and, in my absence, the company had neither gone under nor experienced any crises that could not be handled by the people I left behind.  I managed to make lunch plans without text messages or phone calls.  (I sat on a couch with my knitting, and someone actually walked up to me and asked what my lunch plans were.  "I don't have any - shall we walk downtown and see what the soup of the day is?"  It was that easy.)

But then I returned home.  I went back to work.  School started again.  There were errands and e-mails and voice messages and texts from the kids, and I was missing a lot of it.  After work, my husband and I stopped at the Verizon store to get me a new phone.

I was surprised to learn that, after two years, I was eligible for an upgrade in equipment. 

I am now the proud new owner of an iPhone.

I spent about an hour last night configuring it, loading my music onto it, setting up both of my e-mail accounts, selecting a suitable background photo, and figuring out how to use the phone as an alarm clock.  It woke me this morning with a pleasant ring called "Xylophone."  The dogs leapt to life at the sound, just as they had when the Droid went off every morning.  As though nothing had changed, and all was right again with their world.

Have a wonderful day, and stay connected.

1 comment:

Rev. K.T. said...

I've often wondered what it might do to me to go unplugged. I'm sure I overuse electronics to communicate. But there are people like you that I wouldn't even know had there never been a bulletin board online. So while I have those friends that I see on a daily basis, my closest friends are those whose distance disappears thanks to technology. Can't wait to see you live and in person!