“You know, I was at church the other day and something weird happened.”
“No one’s phone went off.”
“Who is No-one?” my friend asked.
“Nobody’s phone went off! There was no disturbance!”
And that was the start of it. The new me. The next day my smartphone fell down my apartment garbage chute. Ker-plunk! Accidentally or was it on purpose? Only my subconscious knows! It didn’t cost much anyway. Super small squinty-eyed-cracked-dim-screen, and five years old. Android had already given up on it. No more updates. So, no big loss. I sauntered into the phone store.
“I want something cheap!”
That salesperson was rude. “Cereal box cheap? Or were you thinking of something a little more usable?”
“The cheapest you got!”
He had to go looking, all bent over. A cabinet opened, followed by sliding noises, and ample groans. Then when he stood back up, he hit his head!
“I don’t recommend this," he said, holding a dusty box and rubbing the back of his head. “But it is less than fifty dollars.”
“How much less?”
“What can it do?”
He made this weird face. “Uh you talk into it, and you can hear people?”
What a nifty phone. Silent as all get out! No constant notifications, alarms, updates, or spam calls. I took it places, a flip phone it was. I felt like a secret agent, flip the phone open, and Kirk beams me up! Or better, close it, instant phaser! Kablooey you Klingons! But then the problems started.
The boss was upset. “Have you gone dark all of a sudden?”
“What do you mean?”
“I texted you! No response!” I showed her my phone.
“What is that?” she asked.
“You have to call me.”
“What!” she shouted.
They say that the average person spends up to five hours each day scrolling on their smartphone. I start to wait outside my apartment building. For the Amazon person. The one with the speeding white van that always screeches to a halt. Out tumbles a young man, a blur up the apartment driveway, hardly looking at me.
“Hi there! What’s your name? How are you doing today?”
He never stopped running! A brown box falls out of his arms, and out onto the steps. He turns to go. Is that why Amazon boxes always have a curved arrow on them? Does it plot an escape route?
“Nice talking to you!”
He gives me such a weird look and gets on his smartphone right away. Is he going to video me for a crazy customer Youtube video? Oh, I almost forgot. They take a picture of every delivery. But this picture just wasn’t quite right, I’m in front of the box he dropped. So, he shifts to the side and so do I! He runs to where he can get a clear shot and I shift to block him!
“Talk to me!”
He gives me the finger and off he goes, a picture of me in my Amazon delivery email, not one word from him!
My new dumbphone, what a treasure. I have so much more time for callers! A telemarketer calls me.
“Is this Jim Caravel?”
“It is. How are you today?”
“Fine. I would like to…”
“Hey, where are you calling from?”
“Where are you calling from?”
“Pakistan. Now we have a great offer for you…”
“Where are you in Pakistan?”
He tells me he is calling from Islamabad. And I regale him with everything I know about Islamabad from Google Earth! From my computer, I get the exact address where he works. Then I ask him how good the Biryani is at Ginka Mall, you know whether he likes his beef and rice with yogurt or salad. He says it’s not too bad, but he prefers to get Seekh Kabab, chicken only from the stall at the other end of the mall. He's expecting a baby soon. I mean his wife is. I think I’ll send him a postcard!
I sold my self-driving car. It got so I never paid attention. I would never tell my car which route to take or how fast to go and it never slowed down for the pretty ladies or let me say hello to a neighbor.
I take the bus to work now. Dead silence on the bus. Funeral homes are not this quiet! Everyone is hunched over, eyeballs on white or black rectangles, fingers at attention. One lady plopped down in the last seat available, right next to me.
“Hi! How are you today!”
“Err fine?” She rolls her eyeballs, with this idiotic grin, gripping her rectangle tight.
“You're fine? That’s good to hear! Do you know that people with welcome mats outside their homes can be the most unfriendly people on the planet?”
She hops up and to the back of the bus, she goes. What is it? Bad breath?
There was just one thing I didn’t like about my dumbphone. No dating apps. It was a real pain, to be honest. I would set up a date on my computer and then she would be a no-show! I would set up another date and I would be a no-show! How could this be?
I tried telling them I had a dumbphone and messaging didn’t work. They just didn’t get it.
So, my mom gave me some advice. She said to not sweat it. I’m still young, only twenty-five! Get involved in the community she said. Stop being such a loner. Become a part of things, volunteer.
So, I had to get involved in the community, stop being such a loner, become a part of things and volunteer. I started with the food bank and graduated to the Red Cross blood donor clinics and senior citizen homes.
When it came time to get married, my bride was all in white! Met her at the senior citizen’s home. Pretty as a picture.
But maybe using a dumbphone was a dumb move after all. I went back to using a smartphone. Showed up at that phone shop and bought a shiny new one. That dating app worked great; all my friends were online. My boss was so happy. I blocked the telemarketers; bought another self-driving car and stopped chasing Amazon drivers. And you know that advice my mother gave? It was great. I’m in love with my wife and she is only fifty-eight!