This was a completely new experience for me. Caught so off guard, I had no idea how to act. Where do I go? What do I do? What the hell do I do with my hands? Am I allowed to make eye contact with people? What’s the protocol? So many questions and so few answers. One thing was vividly clear. I would have to find a way to survive almost two hours in the mall without my phone. I was…. Naked and Afraid!
Unlike the marginally popular cable TV series, I was not really naked. Good chance the title would have gone from Afraid to Alone had I been naked. No the nakedness was emotional, dare I say spiritual.
Before moving on let me just say this is not a treatise on the current smart phone culture. This will not be a plea for people to get their faces out of their smart phones and reconnect with humanity. Quite the contrary. I love my phone. I enjoy my phone. I’m not ashamed of my phone.
My phone can guide me to new places and play my music over the speakers of the Frankerprise (our mini-van). It allows me to walk through crowded, busy, places without engaging people. No way to even calculate the value of that.
More importantly, my phone tells me how far I am from any given pin on and given green on any given golf course. My phone knows how far I hit my 7 iron. It tracks how many fairways I hit. It just… gets me.
So no, this is not me smugly telling you that the people of earth have become too obsessed with their phones and have lost the ability to engage in the most basic human contact. This is me saying it sucks when said phone is taken away and you’re stuck at the mall forcing you to engage in the most basic human contact. It’s a very discombobulating feeling.
I kind of knew I was in trouble when I dropped my phone on the hardwood floor. Of course I dropped it face down so as to eliminate any protection from the phone cover and provide maximum damage potential. Mission accomplished. Complete shattering of the touch screen. I knew in my heart what that meant. I would have to journey to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in the mall. God those people love to talk to you and make you feel like one of them with all their customer servicey behavior. I hate that.
But my burden would be compounded. The joint was covered up. I mean at 10:05 in the a.m. it was packed. Every other store in the mall was like a mausoleum. This place, barely had room to walk. Genius 1 spots me and moves in.
He starts his assault on my disdain for people. By that I mean he used every cliche greeting short of the Ned Flanders from the Simpsons classic, “Hi-dilly Ho-dilly Neighbor!” But beyond that he was all bad news. A three hour wait meant an appointment two days from now. Yeah I had to go back. Twice in a week is just about my lifetime limit.
Well thank the Apple gods I had an appointment. Two days later the place was jammed again. Sullen but judgmental Ned Flanders greets me this time. When he finds I have an appointment he perks up, judgment abated. Another 3 hour wait for the non-appointees, he tells me. But not me, I go straight to the genius bar. I don’t drink but that’s OK cause I think the genius tag is an honorary thing, so it’s a push.
Fix-it Ned says he can change the glass in ten minutes. OK now they’re speaking my language. Hold the phone Fix-it Ned says, (haha see what I did there), glass change is ten minutes, but another hour or so, 90 minutes most likely, for the touch screen and all its glorious-ness to calibrate. An hour or what? Ned says, “When you come back you’ll have your phone all fixed or a brand new phone.” When I come back? I have to leave?! A new phone, that’s awesome, but that doesn’t help me for the next hour and a half Ned.
So out I go. Into the dark cruel world of the mall. When I crossed the threshold of the Apple Store into the mall I felt cold, naked even. The dark side of the force is strong here. I wasn’t even sure which way to turn. What do I do with my hands? I have nothing to hold, nothing to pretend to be so engrossed in allowing me to ignore all those around me. I need to move. My feet need to move in some direction.
Pretzels, I smell pretzels! I’ll go get a pretzel. That should take at least an hour right? I have no idea. Sadly it took much longer than it really should have. Old girl Annie, of Annie’s Pretzel fame, was gettin the 411 from a friend standing at her counter. Apparently there was some dust up with Gina and Mark at a rather raucous social engagement the night before. Mark was all like being a butt-hole and Gina was having none of that drama. Gina, as it turns out, doesn’t suffer butt-holes.
Good for you Gina. Raise the bar girl. Mark is a chooch, you know you can do better. OK so the mall may more fun than I thought. So the town crier finished her appointed rounds of gossip and toddled off to parts unknown, American Eagle Outfitters I would imagine. Or whatever place the kids gather these days. Never the less I had my pretzel and diet coke in short order and wandered off myself, contemplating the fate of Mark and Gina. Maybe those crazy kids can make it after all.
Well I had food, so that means I must need to report to the food court. A bold move considering I was without my shield. Nothing in my hands but a pretzel and a 20oz mall cup full of the nectar of the gods. Eye balls are everywhere. People looking, wanting to engage in some fashion. It was a mine field for sure. Navigated safely, I found a table. Harking to my Italian roots, my back is as close as can be to a wall. No whacking for this weary mall traveler.
Even after I sit down the issue of my hands keeps cropping up. I’m running out of pretzel. What the hell do I do when I have no more butter drenched twisted dough to jam in my face? It was a quandary.
People watching is good. I’ll people watch. Yeah the was a bad move. Doing that caused me to weep for humanity. I’ll just leave the food court experience like this. If Whitney Houston was right and children are our future, mall children in-particular, take the gas pipe now my friends we are doomed!
It occurred to me I had no way of knowing what time it was. I didn’t have my phone. I don’t wear a watch. No way to see the sky, although I’m not sure what that would get me. I dropped the phone off Wednesday afternoon, it could be Thursday already for all I knew. So I walked out to the Frankerprise and used the on-board computer (dashboard clock) to calculate my time and season. What felt like a millennia, was only 55 minutes.
OK I can meander through Sears Hardware for a good 15 minutes and then arrive at Apple 5 minutes later making me 10 minutes early. If the gods are happy and my nectar, (diet coke) holds out I should get to the Apple Store to find my phone ready to go. And that’s what happened.
A little anti-climactic really. But I had my phone.
My emotional clothes are back on. The world will keep turning for another day.
And now, thanks to Fix-it Ned, I won’t have to engage anyone in it.