Monday, June 1, 2015

Requiem for a Cell Phone

I realize it’s missing one evening when I prepare to go downtown to help Master Gardeners plant pots and beds at the City Market--my little clamshell phone with its tether bearing my talisman purchased in Hong Kong signifying my birth in the Year of the Rooster.

A quick search of likely places yields no phone, and I have no choice but to leave without it, which makes me nervous in this busy season for my garden design company. I’m potentially missing calls from clients and installers, not to mention friends, family, and doctors’ offices.

Next morning the need to locate my connection-to-the-world takes top priority. I call my cell from our landline. In the past I had been able to track it down by listening for its distinctive ring, but no deal this time. Instead of hearing a ringtone on the other end of the line, I’m immediately switched to voicemail, so there’s no opportunity to track a location.

Then commences a thorough search of my car—I find a dish and a dessicated chicken bone under the passenger seat, but no phone. I search my garden tool collection in the trunk, then my purse, my office, the bedroom, the pockets of my gardening clothes, my bathrobe, the back patio—all places where the frequently disappearing device has been found before—no luck.

I retrace my steps from the day before, calling the nursery where I purchased milkweed plants and the client where I laid out the bed for their new Monarch Waystation. No, they haven’t seen my phone. I resume searching in all the likely places around the house and car to no avail. I finally have to tell myself to stop obsessing and get on with the day. My cell will turn up sometime.

Now truth be told, my little retro flip-open device has been giving me trouble lately. For one thing, it has a habit of jumping out of my pocket. I remember how two weeks ago my friend Marcia called to say she found what she thought was my cellphone out in her backyard where we had been consulting about what to plant in the two new raised beds by her deck. She wouldn’t have noticed it except that it kept ringing with incoming calls. In the ensuing weeks it failed to hold a charge more than a day so I was constantly having to juice it up. Then it started beeping at odd times, and not responding properly to functions I requested. It’s clearly time to replace the device; I just haven’t had the time to figure out what to replace it with. But losing it like this, in the midst of spring landscaping projects, is the last thing I need.

That evening I distract myself with a meeting of the local Horticultural Society, hearing about their good works, travels to noteworthy gardens, and plans for the future. While driving home in the relaxed state induced by two hours of slide presentations, greeting old friends, and consuming tasty refreshments, my mind begins to put the pieces of the cellphone puzzle together. In a flash of insight I know what has happened! My phone is lying on highway I-465 somewhere between the exits to Keystone Avenue and Meridian Street.

How did my cell phone meet this untimely end? Why, the little punk had jumped out of my pocket again while I was marking out the Monarch Waystation at my client’s. I spied its puny gray and black body on the grass and placed it on the right edge of my car windshield for safekeeping. While driving home on I-465 I noticed an intermittent sound like gravel hitting the windshield. That struck me as odd, but I figured it was just stones kicked up from recent construction on the highway, and after a while the noise stopped.

My gestalt now explains what that noise was. It was the sound of my rooster charm on the cell’s tether, snapping in the wind and tapping the windshield, trying to warn me of impending doom. I was hearing it, but I wasn’t listening.

Rest in peace--and probably several pieces after tangling with the semi traffic on that busy highway--my old clamshell friend and business partner. I’m off to the phone store to choose your replacement. And maybe I’ll delve into a new generation of devices that, if this ever happens again, which it surely must, will practically be able to call me for help.


  1. RIP, puny cell phone. It was time for a more modern one anyway. Enjoyed reading this! :)

  2. I think you'll like the magical capabilities of your new phone. Good luck!