The iPhone at the Bottom of the Pool
Ah, it’s good to be back from vacation, so I can unleash more hyperbolic nonsense upon an unsuspecting world. Later this summer, the family and I will head back East for a week at my parents’ place in New Hampshire, but for this week with my kids, a trip to Glenwood Springs, Colorado for rafting, hiking, and swimming seemed like an absolutely perfect getaway. That is, right until my son dropped my cell phone straight into the sulfury springs at our hotel.
We’ve all had it happen. You realized moments too late that your phone was still in the pockets of the jeans you gave to your partner after they asked you if had any dirty clothes that needed washing. You made the consequential lapse of judgment to send a text while in the restroom only to lose your grip and find your phone spiraling towards an inverted position leaning against the urinal cake. You woke up hung over and realized you had wet yourself and the phone that was still in your pocket. One way or another, we have all watched our phone die before our very eyes. It is a painful moment indeed.
In my case, my son had it tucked between two towels he was carrying over to our table. He picked them up, and out it sputtered, taking two bounces on the concrete before wheeling in the air with the grace of a leaping ballerina only to fall with a dainty splash into the pool waters that instantly corroded all of the circuitry contained therein. When I brought it to the repair shop, they merely laughed at me with an air that smacked of humored condescension. Apparently, the natural springs make for quite the recuperative salve for the human body; they are not, however, quite so revitalizing for portable electronic devices. The tech nerd behind the counter, somehow now cooler because he at least had a phone that wasn’t worthless, seemed to revel in his delivering of his final verdict that I needed a new phone. When asked what I should do with my old one, he merely chuckled and responded under his breath, “You could let your son play with it.”
Ok, I probably had that coming, but this really was going to take awhile. By the time I got home and got a replacement phone shipped to my house, it was going to be a full week without a phone. I gasped. This was going to suck.
But, you know what? It didn’t. Yes, it left me without a digital camera I could carry around and take pictures with of our vacation time together, but you know what I had instead? Memories. Yes, it was difficult communicating with my girlfriend while she was back at home working and I was a hundred miles away with the kiddos, but you know whom I spent my time communicating with instead? The people right there in front of me.
Instead of checking my email and posting nonsense on Facebook, I jumped in the pool with my kids, I rode rides with them, we chatted it up and played silly games together while we stranded in line. I enjoyed their company in a way I sometimes forget to do. When they are not a distraction from reading about what a bunch of people I rarely see anymore are posting on social media or checking the score of a baseball game I don’t actually care about because it’s still only June and the baseball season goes on forever for crying out loud, my kids are amazingly entertaining. Minus a sunscreen in the eye episode that bordered on a nuclear emotional breakdown, they had me in stitches the entire time. I was, for once, present with the people I love most.
And gosh did they appreciate it. You could tell by their enthusiasm and unbridled joy that they were, consciously or not, receptive of the opportunity to spend real time together. They rejoiced at the chance to have their dad actually watch every time they tried a backflip or a new dive into the pool. They beamed at me as they dragged me from place to place to show me various things they had found. And they audibly chuckled as they told me their favorite parts of the day between interspersed bites of a hot dog.
I am not telling you anything you don’t already know for yourself. We are all know that we are too addicted to our devices and that we are in desperate need of a wake up call to put the damn things away and spend more quality time with the people that matter most. We have all seen that family at the restaurant, each of them on their devices while blithely ignoring everyone else at the table, and thought to ourselves that our whole society has dissolved into a bland mass of emotionally distant fools who have lost the ability or patience for interpersonal communication. We know it, but feel powerless to do anything about it.
So go have your kid throw your phone in the pool. Or let them take it up on your balcony and hurl it down mercilessly onto the awaiting pavement below. Cover it in raw meat and feed it to a tiger in the jungle so that you can use the phone’s GPS tracking services to know where the predator is at any given moment. Or save yourself $600 and just put it away for a week. Whatever your solution, take a break from your phone. You may just find you like your family.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 Words or Less every TUESDAY and FRIDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com