Friday, April 29, 2011

Cellular Journey

So I just recently came back from a two week, well-deserved holiday in Florida and the Caribbean. Not only did I take a vacation physically, I think my brain took a vacation, too, because in the space of two weeks, I misplaced my purse, lost my cell phone, and missed my connecting flight home.

But it's the cell phone I want to reflect upon. I had an overnight layover during my trip, and used my cell phone as an alarm to wake me up for the early flight. No problem. When I got on the airplane, I thought, "I should turn my cell phone off." I reached into my purse to grab it, and... nothing there. I emptied the entire contents of my purse on the seat beside me and emptied individual pockets of my backpack. The phone was gone. Somewhere between waking up and boarding the airplane, I either set it down and didn't pick it up again, or it fell out of a pocket onto the streets of Toronto.

The lost phone was not really a big deal while I was on vacation. I had already spent a week in Florida without using it, and I knew I wouldn't have service in Turks and Caicos. I suspended the account online when I arrived in T&C, and didn't think twice about it for the rest of the week.

...I use multiple methods of communication, but it's really struck me this week where I specifically prefer to have my cell phone. As I mentioned, I missed my connecting flight home. My cell phone is my most reliable alarm when traveling. If I'd had it, I may not have slept in and missed the flight. And because I missed my flight, I needed to contact the friends picking me up, as well as my mom, whose house I was headed to once I'd landed. Texting would have been free. And while I'm not sure long distance on my cell would have cost any less than the payphone I ended up using, it just... would have been nicer to use my own phone. I could have sat down, for instance.

And not to mention the regular texts I was no longer able to send to friends. It surprised me on how many occasions I found myself saying, “guess I will have to tell them about that later” because I couldn’t just text in-the-moment about the cool song I found myself listening to, or the random thought I had, or that thing I just saw that reminded me of a particular person.

I arrived home Easter Sunday, and thankfully had the Monday off to sleep in and gather myself before heading back to my normal routine. Early in the evening I decided I should do groceries so I wouldn't be trying to rush around to do them later. It was a nice sunny day, so I grabbed my shoes, grabbed my purse, and was out the door. As soon as I'd pulled it shut, my brain (which was apparently still on vacation) realized that the keys to both my car and my house were still in the house. I had just locked myself out of my house. And because I'd been on vacation, I had removed the hide-a-key from its spot outside. So it was in the house, too. Neither neighbour had a spare key from the previous owner.

Then I remembered that the guy who’s keeping his car in my garage has a key—yes! I’ll just call him; but… shoot, I don’t know his phone number. His number’s in my cell phone... which I don’t have anyway. Fortunately, I remembered his wife’s cell number and called her from the neighbour’s phone. It was yet another reminder of how much I take access to my cell phone for granted.

Not wanting to shell out for a new phone, I opted to see if anyone had an old one kicking around that I could take off their hands. One of my friends let me know right away that she had a spare, and I picked it up from her right away. I started deleting her old contact list, and personalized the screen display and ring tones. I lifted the suspension of my phone service so that I could swap the number to her phone. In the end, though, I couldn’t transfer the number (note to self: Bell phones cannot become Telus phones).

I went to suspend the account again until I could get another phone. But apparently you can’t suspend your number more than once in 30 days. Great. Now my phone was active and could be utilized if anyone had found it. I decided to call my number. If it went straight to voice mail, I’d know the battery was dead and that phone was not in use. Sure enough, the phone went to voice mail, but in conjunction with relief, as I heard myself say, “Hi, you’ve reached Gina…” I suddenly missed my phone. I got an image of it in my head lying at a curb somewhere, unnoticed as it vibrated, as if to say, “find me! Find me!” I suddenly just wanted my phone, with my contact list, and my pictures, and my ring tones. The phone I could already navigate through. The phone I knew.

The next morning, I remembered that my respite family had gotten an iPhone before we all went to Disney, which meant—in theory—that they had a spare phone. And previously we had had the same cell phones. Sure enough, they had an extra. The back cover that holds the battery in didn’t stay very well, but I could have it if I wanted. I picked it up as soon as I could.

Today at lunch I successfully swapped the number over to my ‘new’ phone. I taped the back cover on. I re-created my contact list. And I texted my friends. ...Could I survive without a cell phone? Certainly. ...Do I want to? No, thanks. :)