Adventures in Phonelessness

This last week, I decided to take a trip to Los Angeles to visit some old college friends.  Naturally, my phone broke before I got there.

I didn’t think it would be a problem.  The phone still functioned as a phone.  That is to say… I knew the phone was communicating with the sky.  I could see it receive texts, and at one point, I received a phone call.  The problem was: my touchscreen no longer displayed anything, and, as is the case with most smartphones, the touchscreen is the interface with which we navigate the phone.  Without a functioning touchscreen, the phone was useless.

…so I brought it in to the [Network] Store.

Me“The touchscreen is broken.”
Employee“I see.  I don’t know what to tell you.”
“Can it be fixed?”
“Nope.”
“But… but it’s still functioning as a phone.  See the green flashing light?  That means I received a text.  Hence, the phone is still sending information.”
“Yes, but the touchscreen is broken.”
“I know!  But it’s still a phone!  It still connects to other phones!  If a dial pops off a rotary phone, it doesn’t stop being a phone!”
“Without a functioning touchscreen, your phone is a doorstop.  Forever.”
“But… but… … is there anything I can do?”
“Well, you’re due for an upgrade in August.”

…so I entered Los Angeles without a phone.  But really, we’re not too far from the 90’s.  Surely I’d be able to meet up with people phoneless, like we did in the good ol’ days.  After all, are we really that dependent on technology we barely had a couple years ago?

…so I saddled up in Starbucks with my laptop and signed onto Facebook.

To: William Johnson
Hey Bill.  I’m in Los Angeles.  Wanna hang out?
By the way, I don’t have a phone.  This is my only form of communication.

…and then I sat there and sipped my coffee, staring at my Facebook page for an hour.  Two hours.  Another coffee.  Wrote a blog post.  Three hours.  Another coffee.

To: Doctor Quack
Hey Q.  Yeah, I’m free tonight.  Where do you want to meet?

To: William Johnson
I’ll drive to your place.  I’ll be there in a couple hours.

Another hour.  Another coffee (decaf).  Webcomics.

To: Doctor Quack
I’m in the process of moving, so I might be at the new apartment, or between them.

To: William Johnson
What’s the new address?

Another hour, a pastry, a chai tea (redundant) latte…

I’ll save you the rest of the tedium, Reader; surely you understand.  A simple logistical conversation would last days.  Plans would expire before they were even planned.  Every morning, I would wake up and stare at my Facebook page for hours before any sort of definitive action could be made.  Even a simple meet up for dinner or coffee would require my undivided attention throughout the morning and afternoon, wasting away the precious minutes and hours of my vacation staring at my news feed.  I didn’t even have numbers, and the friends with which I actually did meet seldom had numbers of other friends.

Eventually I decided to take matters into my own hands and proactively drive to people’s residences, unannounced.  I showed up at the apartment complex of my dear brother and rang the buzzer.
No answer.
I walked out onto the street and looked up at his balcony door.  The light was on.  I went back to the buzzer.
No answer.
I walked into the alleyway where I knew his bedroom window to be and called his name into the alley.
No answer.
I briefly considered climbing the balcony and breaking in through his balcony door, but I realized, as this was Van Nuys, it was probably a bad idea.  I sat at the entrance to the apartment complex for a while, and then I left.  The next day he told me he had been out shopping during that time.

(Understand, Reader, you cannot trust a buzzer in Los Angeles.  Just because a buzzer buzzes does not mean the buzzing goes anywhere.  One cannot express the resigned futility of someone sitting phoneless at the entrance of an apartment complex.  Even if plans are made (i.e. “I’ll be at your place at 7:30 sharp”), how is one to communicate with an apartment-dweller when the management arbitrarily decides everyone already has a phone, and thus buzzers are useless to maintain?)

When discussing the face of poverty in America, I often hear people scoff at how the impoverished still often have modern conveniences like cell phones, and that maybe if they didn’t spend their money on frivolous and decadent electronics they would be able to save enough money to survive without loans/welfare/assistance… etc.  I’m sorry folks, but this isn’t the 1930’s anymore.  Electronics are cheap and time is expensive.  As much as I hate to admit it, our society is structured on the availability of fast and direct communication. Without a phone, you are a nobody – or rather, you are some guy breaking into your brother’s apartment, and it’s really quite difficult to break out of your unfortunate economic situation while breaking into your brother’s apartment.

Oh, who have we become?  We are but hounds at the mercy of our phone-leashes, without which we stray, lost and wild, into the unforgiving wilderness of frustrated impatience, or rather, reluctant ineptitude.

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About Doctor Quack

Just another bonehead with an internet connection.
This entry was posted in Autobiography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Adventures in Phonelessness

  1. Afroxander says:

    Do you have a gmail account? You could’ve called your friend via the phone chat option in gmail at no charge.

  2. You should try calling people using say Skype, or GChat, or many other methods. While definitely not as convenient as a phone, you can pull it off as long as you have a laptop and some Wi-Fi. You can get Wi-Fi anywhere, by just looking for some open networks wherever you are.

  3. Christina says:

    Hehehe, so true! I read the part where you were waiting for facebook messages to pop up and was thinking perhaps skype would have been good for you, or twitter? But see, exactly your point. It’s more social media conduits and not a real solution if you’re sitting in a cafe without a phone…

  4. cinderslug says:

    Darn it, I’m in Los Angeles.. if you happen to be in need of some company next time you’re in town, I’d love to get a message from you.

  5. your blog always makes my day! lol.

  6. Damn… I’m so screwed. Firstly, I only have a semi-smart phone. Second, my alerts for texts are often silenced. Third… I screen my calls… and sometimes I just forget to have my phone with me altogether. Fourth… I don’t have a LAN line. 😉

  7. aver1 says:

    scary isn’t it?

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