An email that was both welcome and aggravating showed up in my inbox this week.
It was welcome because it confirmed my phone was in good hands. It was aggravating because those hands weren’t mine.
The email was in reply to a “thanks for finding my phone” note I had sent to a colleague. I discovered she found it when I got home from my job in Washington, D.C., early Monday afternoon.
Since I was on the road and clearly unreachable, my co-worker had used my phone to track down my wife, who left me a note about it the old-fashioned way – on paper.
I was relieved to see that note taped to the door leading into our house from the garage. I had just spent much of my commute in a mild panic, repeatedly going through every nook and cranny of my backpack, where I usually throw my phone when I leave work. Eventually, I had to give up and tell myself that it wasn’t really lost, that I had simply forgotten it.
When I was greeted by my wife’s paper note, I immediately wanted to thank my co-worker. But since I didn’t have my phone to call, text or send an email, I was forced to use our daughter’s laptop. It seemed huge compared to my phone. It made me feel like I was typing on the piano in our living room.
Later that day, I checked the piano (sorry, the laptop) to find my colleague had sent a reply and then signed off with the innocent wish that I “enjoy being unplugged.”
She was simply trying to make me feel better by suggesting that not having the convenience of the internet at my fingertips isn’t such a bad thing, that being unplugged once in a while can, in fact, be a good thing.
I don’t disagree. However, I prefer it to be a planned thing.
After reading her reply, I checked the time, did the math and was crestfallen when I figured out that I was going to have to spend the next 31 hours, 45 minutes and 26 seconds without my phone.
I thought about seeking solace from our big dog Rodney. Unfortunately, he appeared lost in his own countdown. Even though he was sprawled on the floor in front of my chair, he was alert and seemed to be intent on the digital clock on our DVR, no doubt counting the minutes until my wife usually arrives back home from her own job.
I kept checking the clock, too, because for nearly 32-hours I had to make do without the device that is more than just a simple phone. It’s my brain and my entertainment system wrapped in one.
Its calendar keeps me from misplacing the kids. I read and listen to books on it and use it to stream my favorite shows to the TV. I’ve even been known to write columns like this one on it, not to mention the time I waste using it to check Facebook and Twitter.
For 32-hours, I felt like Thor from “The Avengers,” who, when bereft of his hammer had to deal with life without superpowers. He had to prove himself worthy to get it back.
I’m just glad all I had to do to be reunited with my phone was to show up for my next shift at work.
Because if I’d had to prove myself, I’d probably still be plunking the keys on my daughter’s clunky laptop.