One day in March, I was downloading an app for work. Suddenly, my phone began buzzing. And vibrating–so violently, it was skittering across the desk like a giant black bug. When I picked it up, it was hot to the touch. It spontaneously turned off. Then on. Then off again. The T-Mobile theme music jangled in a continuous, maddening loop. I didn’t want to open the battery case for fear of explosion, so I buried the phone at the bottom of my handbag, where it eventually stopped struggling and fell silent.
I drove to the nearest T-Mobile store, where my Samsung Galaxy was pronounced dead on arrival. More bad news: My one-year warranty had expired….eleven days earlier. Since I wasn’t eligible for a new phone yet, a replacement would cost $400. And no matter which phone I bought, I had to keep paying for the data plan. Oh, if I wanted out completely? That would be fine (and $200).
I was outraged. I’d stuck by T-Mobile when so many others had left for the iPhone and THIS was my thanks? The sales associate’s face registered no emotion. He’d heard it all before, I was sure. I huffed out the door with a $20 phone to use while I plotted my next move.
The following weeks were spent on long, painful calls to overseas customer service representatives. I denounced the cell phone industry and the injustice of it all. I ranted and raved. I sulked. I used my $20 phone that could do little more than make and receive calls.
And I started to really like it.
When we were out, I wasn’t checking Facebook. Or my to-do list app. Or the weather. There was, in fact, nothing to check. Better yet, the work emails that sent my mood south and my mind elsewhere? They were at home on my computer. And yes, they could wait.
Then one day, Sam and I were at an indoor playground. “Watch me! Look at me!” Sam yelled as he zoomed down the slide. I clapped my hands and laughed–and looked around: Every other mom’s eyes were cast down onto her phone. Three weeks earlier, my eyes would’ve been cast down too, mindlessly scrolling through Twitter.
I decided to make a change. I found a company (Credo) that advocates for causes I believe in–and that would buy me out of my contract. We got simple talk-and-text phones that save us more than $100 a month.
Like most busy moms, I sometimes struggle to be present when I’m with my kids. Working part-time from home means my work-life boundaries are perpetually fuzzy. When I’m home, the laptop and iPad call my name. So do the laundry, the dirty dishes, the pile of mail, and the empty cat food dish.
But now, when we’re at the zoo or the park or walking to preschool, the “ping” of a new email does not. Neither does Twitter. Or Facebook. I’m not looking down anymore when my son triumphantly crosses the monkey bars. I’m there.
And I gotta say, it’s nice to be back.