Tuesday, July 5, 2016


“Why I may not be smart enough for my Smart Phone.” 

About four months ago, I bit the bullet and bought my first “Smart Phone.”  I’d mainly used a phone for something called “making phone calls” up until then, but my pocket phone had crapped out, and, what-the-heck, why not try something new?  So, though my cell carrier, Consumer Cellular (great rates, actual humans performing customer service) I purchased what was, a year-and-a-half ago, a state of the art iPhone.  The thing is great.  It has more computing power than whatever they put on Apollo 13.  It does much more than I want it to do, which is simply make and take calls and serve as an answering machine upon which I might place a clever “leave a message” message. 

I don’t always carry it with me, but the other day, while I was building a garden shed a few miles from home, I decided to keep it in a spare pocket on my Carhart dungarees.

Carhart dungarees are the best. If you wear a pair of Carhart dungarees to the Home Depot, at check out, they automatically ask you if you are in their Pro Rewards Club.  Carharts are roomy and the canvas fabric never seems to wear out.  They have loops for not one, but two hammers.  (On this job, I did find out that if I put my 28 oz. framing hammer in one loop and my 16 oz Estwing in the other, the breeches had a tendency to slip off my rear and try to bunch up around my ankles – but that’s different story.)  Carharts have tons of pockets for nails and levels and squares and a bunch of stuff I don’t carry, so it was into one of these long, narrow receptacles on the thigh that I slipped my iPhone.

On the garden shed project, my extremely able work partner (Brother Tim) and I found ourselves shoveling gravel, horsing pier blocks into place, grappling freshly pressure treated dimension lumber, ferrying two-by-fours, bending squatting, reaching and hammering.  Somewhere along the way, when pulling an errant 16d sinker, my pry bar slipped off the nail head and whacked me smartly on what was already my bum knee.  Tough guy that I am, I paid it no mind.  (Pause here for eye rolls.)  About fifteen minutes later, I felt something moist on the calf associated with that bum knee.  Looking down, I discovered that the inside of my work pants were streaking a sticky, red substance. 

“I think I may be bleeding out,” I called to brother Tim.

“Can you grab that two-by and hold it right here while I hammer it into place?” he replied.

When we broke for lunch I headed in to drop my pants and survey the damage.  A small puncture was covered by a Band-aide® and all would be well for the remainder of our five hour and forty-five minute workday.

At home, I took my wallet and bandana out of the pants pockets, shook off some of the detritus that gathered in cuffs and crevasses, doffed the grossly filthy – but somehow satisfyingly so – work pants, sprayed them with some Zout® and tossed them into the washer. 

“If the blood stain doesn’t come out, I’ll have to come up with a good story to explain it – something better than not being competent with a pry bar.”

Samsung, iPhone’s most potent competitor, has recently run an add depicting a young man holding their product while he empties bottle after bottle of sparkling wine over the device.  Samsung’s entry in the smart phone market is waterproof.  My once-state-of-the-art iPhone 5S is not.  That, or it doesn’t like low sudsing detergents. 

Removing my Apple from the washer, which ironically is a Samsung, I switched the thing on and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I pictured the electrons and circuit boards somehow vigorously shaking themselves off like Edward, our lab-mix does when he climbs out of a swimming hole.  Eventually, the screen lit up.  Cool!  The blue-lit background now looked like very impressive photo of a cloudscape.  I kinda like it.  I called my wife.  She answered.  Some of the other functions revived, but it wouldn’t take messages and apparently I drowned Siri.  This would never do.  I’d become accustomed to a phone doing non-phone stuff, stuff that I actually probably couldn’t live without.

Today, I drove down to the Apple Store. 

“Houston,” I said, “We have a problem.”

“Do you need to see a technician?” the greeter asked.

“I think so.”

“Let me enter your name and you can have a seat at the Smart Bar.”

“I don’t think I can sit at the Smart Bar,” I replied.

“Why’s that?”

“Blood loss.”

The greeter crimped an eye and slowly, but courteously began to back away. 

“Seriously,” I said, “I left my iPhone in my pants pocket and ran it through the wash cycle.  Heavy soils.  You see, it’s because I’d…”

“Feel free to look about the store and I’ll send someone over to you.”

Epilogue:  The phone was indeed shot.  But because I’d purchased the Apple Care support plan, something I rarely do when I buy a product, full replacement was only $79 – well short of the $349 cost of purchasing a new one outright.  Maybe I should take a seat at the Smart Bar.

© 2016
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. Oh, I've been there, my friend: Several years back I rinsed-washed-and-repeated (and repeated and repeated) my phone inside my motorcycle jacket after a very dusty--but mighty enjoyable--weekend ride. Fortunately, it was a dumbphone, so replacement was inexpensive. To this day I haven't been able to trust myself with a very smart smartphone... I continue to opt for mediocre intelligence in my mobile devices.

    1. I still have my deactivated flip phone. (You know, come to think of it, there may be more than one reason to refer to it as a "flip" phone...)

  2. I finally joined the smart phone revolution about 6 months ago, but alas I am not smart enough for the smart bar either.

    It gets used for texts and the Starbucks app. I think I've attempted to use the camera once.

    At least you were smart enough to get the applecare.

    1. Two thoughts that I find interesting:
      1) Curious that a "phone" can accomplish so many un-phone functions, and
      b) Interesting how although two years ago we had no use for those functions, now many of 'em we can't live without...