“This is why we can’t have nice things.”

This is what happens when you Google, "You Kill Phones."

This is what happens when you Google, “You Kill Phones.”

Friday morning, 9 a.m., I experienced the joys of losing a phone to the ever-wretched enemy of technology: H2O.

After an unnecessarily long, goose-chase adventure to the AT&T Store and its neighboring Walmarts and Best Buys, I finally returned home and cued up the replacement mobile device. The apps were downloaded and the accounts were synced! I decided to take the new whip for a spin.

Everything seemed to be in order — the Facebook button took me to Facebook; the Pandora button took me to Pandora; the Gmail button took me to Gmail! But, when I opened my old email account, there was something there that hadn’t been there before. Posted proudly at the top of my inbox was a new message from Silver-B. The new phone whistled her unfamiliar “you’ve got mail” tune.

Hesitantly, my phone-typing thumb grazed the link, and before me was revealed a single sentence from my old man — three simple words:

You Kill Phones.

I read this sentence, and re-read it. At first, I was appalled! Me, a killer? No, not me. I am a caregiver. I give because I care. I care and I take care. I take care of things! I take care of people! I take care of business! But then, I thought about the phone… Not the phone in my hand, but the phone from this morning — such a wretched memory — I tried to block it out, but it was too late. Burned into my frontal lobe was the scarring image of my iPhone 4, bubbling helplessly, drowning slowly at the bottom of a toilet bowl.

imagesIt was me. I did it! I killed that phone!

But did one casualty make me a real killer? It was an accident (an accident I blame entirely on Gap for failing to make women’s back jean-pockets secure enough to hold cell phones)! It wasn’t my fault!

As I prepared to draft my defensive response/plea of innocence to Silver-B, the flickering home-screen of the phones who came before appeared in my mind. They dragged their broken flip screens and moaned their dammit-you-dropped-me-again‘s, haunting me tirelessly. I realized I had to do the right thing. I had to tell the truth. I had to let their frozen, electronic spirits free.

Introducing, The History of Cell Phones Owned By Chelsea, a short (painful) story, by Chumley6789

In 2003, Chelsea received her first cell phone — a handsome, all-black flip phone with caller ID and a black & white screen. As few of her friends had phones at the time, the mobile device remained tucked snugly in the side-pocket of her backpack for most of its comfortable life (Survival!).

This phone was replaced some birthday or christmas later, making way for the shiny new LG something-or-other with the color screen (Survival!).

Next came the camera-phone… not exactly sure when this came along, but this new technology carried Chelsea reliably through the rest of High School, into her freshman year of college (Dun, dun, dun…).

It was a good start — two healthy cell phones — but everything about to change. The fall of 2007 marked Chelsea’s first phone-murder. Stranded in a train station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Chelsea, hungry and frustrated, aggressively opened her color-camera-flip to check the time (again). Failing to control her new-found-collegiate-volleyball-super-strength, Chelsea’s flip phone flipped, cracking at the hinge and opening much further than its usual 180 degrees. Victim number one — severed at the waist.

Some Nokia cheapy stood in (and survived!) until Christmas of 2009, when Chelsea received her first “smart” phone — another LG something-or-other with a touch screen and optional slide up keyboard…………

This phone was killed in Denmark in 2010. Victim number two — frozen to death in the cruel scandinavian winter.

For the next four years, Chelsea cycled through a half-dozen $12 flip phones, guiding her dependably through her senior year of college, six months in Long Island Wine Country, and a wild double-season outdoor adventure in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Not surprisingly, five of the six were lost: one to general wear and tear (over-flipped at the hinge…again…), one to an iced tea in her University Dining Hall, one to the roof of the family van, and two to rain (colorado rainy season… it’s no joke). Victims three, four, five, six, and…….. (sigh) seven.



The final flip lasted until the summer of iPhone 4.

iPhone 4 cost 99 cents (and a two-year commitment). Incredibly, iPhone 4 was loved and cared for eight long months.

Friday, it fell in the toilet.

With lightning speed and ninja-like reflexes, Chelsea grabbed iPhone 4 and pulled it from its watery doom! She swaddled it and rocked it and stuck it in rice, but it was too late — iPhone 4 was lost. Forever. Victim number eight — drowned in the Oval Office. 

The End?

Now for some reflection:

I think, perhaps, that my bad luck with technology is directly related to how often I use whatever it is which gets destroyed. Of course, some folks (like Silver-B) can go their long technology-driven lives without breaking or losing these little boxes of electricity, but it is my (unresearched) opinion that such people are few and far between. Or rather, the 20-somethings category of phone users more commonly experience this rough and tumble relationship with technology.

Back to correlating damage and use, my phone-survivors primarily survived prior to 2005. While my cell phone use was much lower then compared to now, I cannot assume that I dropped the black & white brick any fewer times than my iPhone 4 — it just handled my tough love better. Today we cannot simply spend $300 on a new Samsung Galaxy; we must also spend $200 on an Otterbox Life Case to protect the fragile device from our inevitable human nature. All these new tablets and phone-watches (?) and push-to-start vehicles — we are forgetting what we humans are capable of (building and destroying); we are building robots for robots.

Admittedly, I spend a lot of time on facebook, and check emails frequently, and enjoy the convenience of having a half-decent camera on me at all times; but this most recent phone disaster has me questioning whether these fragile phones are worth the money. I spent 99 cents on an iPhone 4 — I spent $40 on a piece of crap droid that just so happens to allow for spotty facebook access and in-and-out Pandora Radio use. Why does this make any sense? They give you the phone cheap to keep you on the plan, but apparently the phones are not what costs them anything. Technology grows and changes so often that the devices we purchase at 300% of their true value drop resale value to almost nothing — like 99 cents — after a few short months. It’s crap, and it doesn’t make sense to me.

At 24, almost every penny I make goes to bills and grocery (and occasional nights on the town — I live in Austin after all!). Whatever I manage to save should go to something awesome — a plane ticket, or a 60lb hiking pack, or a down payment on a used Subaru Forester; not some mini-computer that can’t handle normal Chelsea wear-and-tear.

Perhaps I am completely alone in this — and that’s ok — but I vow never again to spend more than $20 on a cell phone. Already, this new droid annoys me. If I can’t have an “old model” iPhone for 99 cents, I’d rather leave the smartphone’s in the dust. Who needs them? Adventures are better with static through the radio, and a well-loved road atlas with bent corners, and a $12 flip phone tucked away in the glove box.

Log out. Power down. (Save money.) Be happy.

2 thoughts on ““This is why we can’t have nice things.”

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