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Issue of September 24, 2014
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iPhone 'junkie' goes through iGrief


August 27, 2014 | 09:01 AM

Approximately three seconds of static, followed by a deafening silence, served as the final cry for my trusty iPhone 4 Saturday afternoon, taken far too soon from this earth and sent to the great AT&T store in the sky at the hands of a Scag Turf Tiger zero-turn lawn mower.

Oh, it didn't get chopped to shreds, which would have been a quick and painless death far more deserving than what it received. This was more like a death via the stretching rack: slow and excruciating.

Did you know an iPhone fits perfectly between a Scag's mowing deck and the anti-scalp roller on the rear of said deck? Yeah, me neither.

While mowing a neighbor's yard and listening to Pandora's Doug Stone station (don't judge me), the phone unknowingly slipped from my pocket and into the perfectly-made slot on the Scag.

Question of the Week
As a cell phone user, would you be lost without your device for more than a day?
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I stopped the mower as soon as I heard the static, climbed down from the seat and saw the phone, which had already curled into a fetal position around the metal roller.

The first stage of grief is denial. I refused to believe this was happening to me, as I attempted to rescue the iPhone from where it was trapped.

After I finally recovered the phone, my heart sank: It's crisp, sexy, elegant lines had been reformed into something that resembled the famed banana phone Marty Brennaman used during rain delays for the Cincinnati Reds. My brother, Ben, described it as a taco.

Regardless, the iPhone had been turned into a mishmash of shattered glass, plastic innards and a few blades of grass. The screen protector was fine. Go figure.

After finishing the neighbor's yard, I stomped into my house. My wife asked what was wrong, and I flung the remains onto the living room floor. Anger, the second stage of grief, had set in.

I dug out the dirt that had packed into the charging slot, hoping there was still life left in the mangled mess. I muttered, "If it comes to life, I'll never mow grass while listening to an iPhone again!" Bargaining, the third stage of grief, was real. Nothing happened after I attached the phone to a power source.

It was dead.

For almost all of the next 48 hours, I was lost. No more Words With Friends. No more Twitter. No more email. No more Facebook. No more ALS ice-bucket challenges.

No phone, no Internet, no life.

It was so 1993.

Perhaps sensing my depression — the fourth stage of grief — people who saw my wife's Facebook picture of the phone seemed to join in my mourning as if the phone had a soul. They offered online condolences, friends at church put their hand on my shoulder and shared their own demolished phone stories. People even offered their old phones to hold me over until I could get another one and reconnect with the world.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when I was able to manage life without a cell phone. I didn't need one, it cost too much and we have (had) dial-up Internet at home.

Sadly, that time has long since sailed, due in large part to having a family and partially due to my job.

I didn't find out about the 6.0 earthquake in California that occurred early Sunday morning until mid-afternoon that day, when I saw it on television. While in the middle of a fantasy football draft Sunday afternoon, I wasn't able to go online and check the Week 4 schedule of the NFL season, when so many good teams are on a bye week. I couldn't call my wife Sunday evening to tell her my draft was over and I was going to be able to save her a trip to pick up our daughter from church.

I needed a fix from Dr. Feelgood before bed that night, so I swiped my wife's phone to check Twitter and learned that, an hour earlier, my next-door neighbor had sent a text saying her son had spotted a prowler outside their house.

According to Pew Research, 90 percent of American adults have a cell phone, with 58 percent of those having a smartphone. The survey says 67 percent of cell phone owners find themselves checking their device for messages, alerts or calls — even when they don't notice it ringing or vibrating — and that 44 percent of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn't miss any calls, text messages or other updates during the night. And 29 percent of cell phone owners describe their phone as something they "couldn't live without."

I'm guilty on all counts. And that's OK. Acceptance: the final stage of grief.

My name is Alan Stewart, and I'm a cell-phone junkie.

Twitter: @TCD_alan

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    Smart Phones
    August 28, 2014 | 08:50 AM

    Entertaining, excellently-written article. Made me smile. Thanks.

    Wayne Willis
  2. print email
    September 02, 2014 | 12:25 PM

    Please share this story with the employees of Foxconn. I'm sure they would share in the heartbreak. 1st world problems.

    J
  3. print email
    get with the times
    September 04, 2014 | 08:31 PM

    iphone 4? you're way due for an update anyway

    ronald p vincent
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