Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Ode to the iPhone

The day before the Tornado, I got a new iphone 4. White. It was lovely.

The iphone 4 is a thing of beauty. It is sleek, with a high definition screen with a front and rear facing camera. 

I was blissfully aware and grateful that summer was about to start, and I had a new phone capable of video, photo, and millions of other things. I was completely smitten with my new phone in every way.

With my cell company, I am only eligible for a new phone with a two-year contract and I must wait until my previous two years is up before I can get a new one. I've had my old phone over 2 years.

In Joplin, we now categorize things as 'before' the Tornado or 'after' the Tornado, because amidst the swirling destructive funnel cloud, time actually stood still for a few minutes and then rebooted. So many people looked death in the eyes, realizing immediately that life is finite.

Everything that ever has been or ever was is completely subject to the power of wind, a storm can forever instill a fear of future storms.

I look around the city that I love and can count dozens of friends and family that used to live here, but have moved away, seeking housing in other towns or states.

Everything that we held on to as 'normal' has been skewed, changed, or destroyed.

During the tornado, I was grateful for my phone.

Although some service was limited, I had trouble calling from certain areas because towers were down or jammed, I sent lots of text messages and received so many voicemails that my mailbox was too full to get any more.

Of the few phone calls I made that night, I remember calling my boss to tell her that I wouldn't make it to school the next day--a sub plan was on my desk. I remember talking to a few family members from out of state, trying to remain as calm as possible so that I didn't scare them when I explained what they were seeing on the weather channel was even more horrifying in person--and that I couldn't reach my mom by phone, so I was trying to get to her by car, then by foot.

I took photos of nearly everything that I saw, even though many of the images from that night are burned into my brain, forever. I even took a couple of videos. In fact, the first videos on my phone are from that night, seeing the destruction in Joplin for the first time.

The night of the tornado, I finally got online around 3:00 a.m. and I was able to post pictures and status updates letting my friends know what was going on. Internet was down all around town, but I could get on Facebook and I could check my email on my phone.

The photos in this post are from the 2,2010 photos on my iphone...I try to document everything. I can't help it. If there is something I want to remember on Facebook, I take a screenshot so that I have the information later.

Fast forward about 24 days. After using my phone nearly non-stop to look up phone numbers and contact apartment complexes, I finally found housing for my mom and got her moved into her new place. 

On the morning of June 15th, I was at the Joplin airport, ready to head out of town to visit my brother and nephew in Arizona for a week--a much needed break from all of the destruction.

While waiting for security to open at 6:00 a.m., I went into the bathroom with my carry-on and slid my iphone into my back pocket. BAD IDEA. Just before sitting down, it slid from my jeans into the toilet with a big splash! I didn't realize it immediately, but as soon as I saw my poor, white iphone bobbing like a turd  I reached down and plucked it from the water. I tried to dry it the best I could with my shirt and then some paper towels. Luckily, the bathrooms are very new and surprisingly clean--I remember noting before even going into the stall.

My phone shut itself off within three minutes. I assumed that it was fried and horror, dread and anger set in. I was angry with myself, I was angry that I wouldn't be able to contact my brother and tell him what gate I would be at in Las Vegas, I was angry that I wouldn't be able to check on my mom--her injured foot wasn't looking so good before I left. I was extremely pissed that I fried my iphone in less than a month of owning it.

 It is quite sickening to see the tornado damage from the sky. I took two photos. One is of a lush, tree filled neighborhood and the other is a destroyed neighborhood. Keep in mind, this is one small chunk...the devastation goes on for miles like this.

You can see blue tarps covering the rooftops of some homes and buildings. This is a photo of what is normal.

The next 48 hours without my phone were so frustrating. I had to borrow phones from people, and if I didn't know someone's phone number, I had no way to contact them. Seriously, how many phone numbers do you have memorized anymore?

Without my phone I couldn't check the time, weather, texts, play words with friends, check my calendar, check facebook, take photos, take videos, check my email, look up a map, use pandora to exercise.

I know that lots of people in Joplin lost everything and I was on vacation, in Arizona, beside the lake and I had a home to go home to...but still...the idea that I was 2,000 miles from home with no way to contact anyone and no phone numbers...and no way to get my phone fixed...I was more stressed and panicked that I have ever felt.  All the what-ifs plagued my mind. What if I get lost? What if my debit card gets lost? What if I need to access the internet about my flight? What if I need to call a doctor in Joplin for my mom? What if my mom's foot gets infected? What if someone tries to contact me from FEMA?

I had trouble falling asleep and woke up in a complete frenzie because I had no idea what time it was, and I always play words with friends first thing in the morning and last thing before I fall alseep.

I put my phone in a bag of rice and set it outside in the dry Arizona air for a day.

I left it in the ziplock bag of rice until Sunday. I maintained an extreme level of patience despite my panic.

Finally, I could stand it no longer. I drove it to the AT&T store to ask them if they would open up the back of it for me so I could make sure it was dry before I turned it on.

The girl at the store was less than helpful, she told me she couldn't and wouldn't touch it. I should drive to the Apple store in Vegas and plead my case with them. I told her it would be useless, my warranty was void the moment it came into contact with water.

When I got back to the beach house, I decided to call Apple customer support to see what they could do.

The lady on the phone was SO nice and sympathetic. She understood that it had been an accident and offered me several options.

First though, she said--'try to turn it on'...the damage has been done by now.

I reminded her that it was probably dead, so she told me to charge it for 30 minutes and she would call back and I could turn it on with her on the phone.

When she called back, I held down both buttons for what seemed like forever, and nothing happened...then I saw an apple flicker....then the dead battery symbol....while it charged, I took out the SIM card and gave her the serial number...a few minutes later, it flashed back to life!

The battery was completely dead, but by god it was alive!!

I didn't have to spend $199 to get a new phone..or $599...or whatever...based on the options she quoted me at first...my phone was ALIVE!

Don't get me wrong, I love my family and I was having a great trip.

I was spending lots of time reading....but when you are staying at a lake house with 4 males....and the only thing on T.V. is either cartoons or deadliest catch...you find yourself in dire need of a distraction.


From the moment it turned on until the end of my trip, I was using my phone almost nonstop. I took tons of photos and even downloaded the last book in my book series and finished it off with my Kindle reader.

Anyway, I had a great trip. I am glad to be home, and really glad to have my iphone working again.

I'm off to the gym...walking...with pandora playing....

the great white toilet shark lives again.....

1 comment:

Rachel said...

What a relief! I'm so happy to hear that the universe smiled on you a little, after what seems like so much incredible yuck.
And I love Words With Friends too! I'm mrs.breadpony on there. Wanna start a game?! :)