Over the weekend, through a fortuitous combination of a sneezing fit and too much Pokemon Go, I once again smashed my damn iPhone.
So, yesterday, off to our our local Apple store I went, which happens to be located at The Grove. For anyone who doesn’t know, The Grove is a high-end, oft-joked-about outdoor mall in Los Angeles that I actually think is totally awesome. Hyper-consumerism is gross and all that jazz, granted, but I still have a soft spot for malls, most likely derived from my mall-crawling early teenage years (full disclosure—though I’m dubious of this ‘fact’ in hindsight, I was, so I was told at the time, the first male employee of the mall accessories store Claire’s Boutique).
Plus The Grove has a Disney-esque animated fountain, a relatively pointless but charming trolley you can ride from one end of the mall to the other, and painfully friendly staff at every turn. And the place is adjacent to Los Angeles’ Original Farmers Market and all its food vendors.
So, in short, not a bad place to spend an hour while they replace the glass display on your iPhone in my humble opinion. First stop—Fritzi’s for their most excellent sous vide vegan carrot dog on the pretzel bun.
But then, in a sudden shock, I realized I didn’t have my phone with me; thus no way to take a picture to visually sing the accolades of said most excellent sous vide vegan carrot dog on social media; thus no way to check my work email, personal email, and other work email; thus no way research and re-remember how to dungeon master for the next night’s long-awaited Dungeons and Dragons game; thus no way to play the aforementioned affronting Pokemon Go and “catch them all!”
After shock quickly panged into a mild dismay, I somewhat morosely ordered my most excellent sous vide vegan carrot dog (with vegan chili, grilled onions, and grilled peppers—they really are good), and took my seat. Then, I breathed deep, took a look around, and realized it was totally fucking awesome not to have my phone. I sat, and instead of falling into a black hole of work and clicking and liking and commenting and read tiny, tiny words, I thought. About whatever, really. About how great it was that I had the freedom and flexibility to enjoy a very lovely day in a very lovely place. I explored my mind and fell into that old, all-too-neglected black hole. I zoned out. I noticed all the interesting people walking around. I slowly ate my most excellent sous vide vegan carrot dog full of rapt enjoyment, right away, without trying to find the best angle and light for the thing.
We’ve done our fair share of deliberate unplugging, and opting in and out of things in life is a constant source of conversation for us, but nothing beats totally not even having the option to opt in.
So I wandered around The Grove for a bit more, perusing some stores, making note of some books at the giant chain bookstore that I could purchase at one of our city’s many fine small bookstores, and asking some strangers for the time every now and then (all of whom looked at me like I was a crazy person—who doesn’t have a phone with a clock on it‽). I then wandered blithely and cheerfully back over to the Apple store roughly an hour later, happy to check the chore off my list of things to do but somewhat reluctant to willfully chain myself back to the rest of the world.
The kindly Apple store Genius guy handed me my phone…at which point I realized I had roughly one thousand messages that had come through in that hour, chief among them, ones that read something along the lines of “HOLY FUCK DUDE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD’S ON FIRE ARE YOU OKAY”‽
With Katie back east for the week, and me out re-finding my phone-less self, that left our adorable dog Owen at home alone in what, by all immediate accounts, was a vast inferno. Clearly freaked out, I quickly got to texting our neighbor…who calmly…and somehow cooly (this guy makes even the most mundane task seem cool somehow; DJs, man) that there was not only one fire but TWO in the ‘hood—a giant mansion was blazing up at the same time as a 15 acre brush fire that was happily both one ridge line away and well-under control at that point.
Which is when I realized maybe technology’s not all that bad after all. I even got a handy and impressive electronic notice on my all-too-recently estranged iPhone after rushing home that the brush fire was out and evacuees were free to return to their homes. While simultaneously texting a friend, ordering a Lyft, and firing up Pokemon Go.
Maybe next time, life-changing epiphany. Maybe next time.