Karma certainly is a swift vixen, isn't she? I was a few hours removed from editing Meaghan Ziemba’s column, Smartphone Shakes, for the latest issue of Wireless Design & Development magazine (PD&D’s sister) when I was retelling the story of her troubles following an incident involving a barroom toilet and her smartphone — nothing pairs well with such sleazy settings, particularly electronics.
While I am not completely ignorant to my own smartphone dependency, I thought that I may fare better than fidgety shakes had I ever become separated from my Motorola Electrify M. I specify the brand to merely shame myself for opting against the Samsung Galaxy S3; its predecessors had never done me wrong and while the Electrify’s price point was alluring (and its salesman convincing), the cheap plastic case makes it feel like a toy in my hand. I’m using Ken’s cellphone.
Last night (4/22/13) marked the first time Spring 2013 reared its head in Wisconsin. The evening was brisk, but ripe for a walk in the twilight with my small family. Typically, these ventures around the neighborhood are reserved for myself and Marshal, my aging dog that has yet to come to terms with his arthritis, but yesterday I was able to persuade my wife to join us and soak in the not-so-frigid temperature.
Carrie usually hangs back at the house reading, working, or improving her Freecell success rate, so I was elated when she chose to come along. However, I neglected two minor details: I never take my keys, because I never have a reason to lock the door behind me, and she never leaves home without securing the premises (insert dramatic, ominous tone). The walk was calming. I vented work-related concerns, she listened, and Marshal remained indifferent to anything two inches above the ground. We spoke of making such walks a nightly date until we stepped up to the back porch and she held the screen door open for me. She would do this for one of two reasons. 1) She was being cordial. 2) She was waiting for me to unlock the door, which is otherwise customary when returning home from any other task. Dread dropped to the pit of my stomach.
Neither of us grabbed a set of keys and, since the walk also served as a good opportunity to disconnect, we left our phones charging on the counter. Until recently, this wouldn’t have been a major issue. Had I not just fixed the lock on the bedroom window, we’d be in the house after a quick jimmy and some mild shin scraping. Unfortunately, I’m too proactive with home repairs (that are two years in the making).
I suddenly realized how small my disconnected world had become; the lone set of spare keys rest in the pocket of a good friend on the other side of town. However, this good friend, a great friend by all descriptions, is primarily contacted via text, speed dial, or Facebook. How did I not know the number for the man who was the alternate officiant at my wedding? After every window and door refused to budge, we started weighing the options. Which window should we break this time (repeat offenders nonetheless)? Where can I find a connected device to reach out to the key master?
I started across the street toward the home of a neighbor with whom I’ve held regular landscape-oriented conversations. Unfortunately, he mistook my hooded sweatshirt and shorts for the attire of a man in mid-kill-crazy rampage. I rode my bike to a few businesses down the street. The consensus? I wish I could help you out, but if you don’t leave the store now, I’m calling the police. I had no idea that I looked so menacing. The final option was the long bike ride to one of two destinations. 1) The friend’s home. 2) His mother’s house.
I took a gamble with the second option. I figured that it was more likely that she would be home and, in the event that I couldn’t reach Matt (let’s save a few characters and use his name), I would have access to a laptop to arrange a flop house for the night. Luckily, the lights were on and after proving my identity, I was invited in to use her phone and, much to his mother’s surprise, Matt answered the call from her home phone.
About thirty minutes later we were in my kitchen, laughing about the situation and discussing the inordinate amount of dependence we have on our mobile devices — we also talked about the level of person-to-person mistrust in this nation, but that is for another time.
While my “smartphone shakes” were the result of a late-night bike ride up an inordinately aggressive hill, I realize that, in less than a decade I’ve not only become too reliant on a buggy piece of plastic, but such trust has caused me to forget a few basic rules of homeownership. And as a whole, consumer electronics have served to further separate us by making it easier to stay connected. Stated simply, it’s time for a change — and a key hidden under the mat. At least I know that my home is secure.
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