A day in the life (without a phone)


I drove to the office this morning in a reasonably good mood. Traffic was light; I’d managed to hit a lull, which doesn’t happen very often. I was in the parking garage, walking to the elevator, when the penny finally dropped.

I left my phone at home.

You’d think I would have realized it sooner, right? My drive to work can take anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic (longer, if the weather’s bad). That’s a lot of time in which to fail to notice that my phone is missing. It’s simple: I never use my phone while I’m driving. Before I leave the house, I stuff it in my bag. Then I take it out when I get out of the car. That’s mostly because I love to drive, and cell phones fuck up drivers. Yeah, I’m talking about you, guy-in-front-of-me-in-a-stupid-SUV-who’s-paying-more-attention-to-his-phone-than-the-road-and-can’t-stay-in-his-lane-to-save-his-life.

I’m going to push this tangent a little further and say one last thing about that: no, you (for general-populace values of “you”) can’t drive when you’re using your phone. You’re not the exception. You don’t have incredible multitasking skills. You clearly don’t even realize that you weave in and out of your lane, slow down and speed up randomly, and freak out-slash-piss off everyone around you. You do. I watch you. Put the fucking phone down.

But getting back to my absentee phone…

No problem, I thought. This has happened before. Ok, it happened once, and that was years ago, but I can survive without my phone for one day. Right?

Heck–this is an opportunity! I’ll keep track of how many times I reach for my phone, or even think about reaching for my phone. I can gain some insight into how dependent I am on it. It’ll be fun and educational!

My first concern was the obvious question: where is my phone? I’m assuming that I left it sitting on the bathroom counter. Luckily, the spousal unit works from home a lot, so I can find out pretty quickly. I reach for my phone so that I can text him…

I pull up Gmail on the computer (I know, right?!?!) and shoot him an email.

Now it’s time for the daily standup. It’s actually the first of three. I fidget during the entire thing, and realize it’s because I don’t have my phone in my hand. Good grief, this is ridiculous. I don’t even use it during standups. I go back to my desk and think, Did he respond yet? I reach for my phone…

Sigh. Ok, pull up Gmail on the computer again. Yes! Phone is safely at home, so at least I didn’t manage to lose it. I was pretty sure that was the case, but it’s nice to know for certain.

With the daily standups over, I now have to go to a weekly status meeting. I reach for my phone…

Ok. I hate meetings, but I do try to be courteous and leave my phone in my pocket. Occasionally, it comes in handy if I need to pull up the company website and look something up. Except now that idiot who talks all the goddamned time because he loves the sound of his own voice won’t stop talking about fantasy football (correction: he’s talking about how he doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about fantasy football, I shit you not) and now I really want to do something–anything–to tune him out. I reach for my phone…

I just need to get through this meeting. It’s nearly my turn to give my status update, and I realize that I can’t remember the name of that website we link to for this thing once a year, and I reach for my phone…

On Tuesdays, the standup/status meeting schedule means I can’t get coffee until after 10:30. I am NOT a morning person, so the idea of finding time to grab coffee between vaulting out of bed in a panic and getting to work is laughable. I realize that without my phone, I don’t have my stupid Starbuck’s app, so I’m going to have to use a card to pay for it. It occurs to me that I haven’t checked my bank balance in quite a while, so I reach for my phone…

Good friggin’… did I seriously just reach for my phone to check my bank balance because I realized that I don’t have my phone and can’t use it to pay for coffee?!

I manage to acquire coffee and go back to my desk, stuck somewhere between sulking over the fact that I don’t have my phone and loathing the fact that I can’t seem to go ten minutes without reaching for my phone. Work. I need to focus on work. Then I won’t think about my phone. I get the three things done that I need to get done, catch up on email, and then I realize that the replacement remote control that I ordered should be arriving… is it today or tomorrow? I reach for my phone…

Last Friday, I got home, changed clothes, ate dinner, screwed around for a bit, and then headed for my daily workout spot, which is my home office. It used to be the master bedroom, but when the spousal unit basically took over the living room AND the basement, I pointed out that using the biggest bedroom as a bedroom was a waste of space, since its only function is to hold a bed and store clothing. The small bedroom can easily do that. So I moved my office from the smallest bedroom to the biggest, and it now contains my computer stuff, a recliner, a television, all my gaming stuff, and a huge number of shelves, which hold books, software, and every geeky knickknack I’ve ever acquired. It also features a rowing machine. The rule is, I can only watch one hour of television if I spend the first 30 minutes (minimum) on the rowing machine. I finally got around to watching Mr. Robot, and I’m hooked, so I’m off to row to nowhere.

That was when I realized that the remote was missing, and once again cursed the fact that modern televisions, for some reason, have stopped putting power buttons on the fucking television. I searched everywhere. This is my office, not the bloody living room, so the remote lives in one of two places: either on the arm of the recliner (within reach of the rowing machine) or on the TV stand. Except it’s in neither of those places. So I searched. And searched. My working theory is that the two kittens did something with it. It’s a reasonable assumption–they get into everything and manage to pull shit I didn’t even know I had out of portable holes and drag it all over the house–but how far could two kittens move a remote? The spousal unit senses a disturbance in the Force, and starts helping with the search.

The remote is nowhere to be found.

That was when it occurred to me that Friday is trash day, and my gaze immediately leapt to the trashcan that I keep between the recliner and the rowing machine. Soooo… right next to where the remote would have been, if it was on the arm of the chair. The trashcan is empty. (It’s not actually a trashcan, it’s a cardboard box. I designed a neat geometric pattern and painted the room in a four-color palette with accent walls, but when it came to getting a trashcan, I found a vaguely-trashcan-shaped box, stuck it there temporarily, and never got around to getting a real one. Sometimes I’m classy like that.) I asked the spousal unit if he’d emptied my trash before putting it out on the curb, but I already knew the answer. The bloody kittens knocked the bloody remote into the bloody trashcan, probably cackling maniacally all the while, and the spousal unit dumped it and never noticed a thing. I ended up on the rowing machine listening to a couple of SModcasts, fuming. (Yes, it’s vaguely possible that I might’ve knocked it off the chair myself and never realized it… but no. Evil kittens.)

Feel the evil.

I wanted to check to make sure that I was remembering the correct link for the SModcast site, because listening to Kevin Smith mangle the names of Game of Thrones characters is both funny and infuriating, so I reached for my phone…

Even with the damn computer right in front of me, I still reached for my phone.

Now I have to go to the bathroom. I reach for my phone…

They’re remodeling the bathrooms in the building, and it’s our turn, so I either have to go down one floor or up two floors. I remember, with annoyance (again), that the remodel included removing all of the horizontal surfaces in the stalls, so there’s no longer a handy place to put my phone down when I need both hands free. Then I reach for my phone…

Holy crap, going to the bathroom is boring without something to read. I used to take books in there, even when I was only going to be a few minutes, but with a phone, one can take all the books into the bathroom. Without a phone, I’m staring at the stall door, thinking about what a seriously boring shade of beige they’ve chosen. I could be thinking about something else–anything else–but I refuse to even try. I’m wallowing in my multi-part misery. I’m annoyed and inconvenienced by the lack of phoneage, I’m pissed off that I’m annoyed and inconvenienced by the lack of phoneage, I’m irritated about how much I can’t stop thinking about my phone, and I’m thoroughly disgusted with myself.

Fine. Fine! I’ll listen to my angry playlist on my pho…

Shit. I can’t even post a really angry song of the day on Twitter to relieve my feelings, because I have two-motherfucking-step verification, and I don’t have my backup codes. (Did I get backup codes? Dammit…)

Then I hear a phone buzzing on a desk, and I reach for my…

And then I seriously consider throwing something at my office mate for flaunting her phone-having status in front of me. It’s deliberate. I just know it.

It’s 11:32 AM.

Eventually, the day does end. The sky’s pretty grey, and I’m not certain if I need to put my coat on. It looks kind of cold. What’s the temperature? I reach for my phone and are you SERIOUSLY telling me that I have to go OUTSIDE to find out how cold it is?!?!?

There’s a pretty fucking obvious moral to this story, right? “We’re too attached to technology!” “We need to unplug!” “We rely too much on devices!” “Machines own our souls!!!”

Wrong. The goddamned moral of the story is DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT YOUR PHONE.

But put it down when you’re driving. Srsly. Distracted driving is bad, mkay?

Also this.

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