According to Dr Google it has a name. Cell Phone Loss Anxiety. I discovered I was suffering from this ghastly condition when my phone slid off my knee and disappeared into the dark interior of the sticky cab. For the first time in eight years this essential part of 21st Century living wasn’t within the desperate grasp of my SNS manicured fingers.
I was at the airport and excited to be spending three days in the Barossa. Wine, wine and more wine. I checked in, oblivious to the loss. At airport security, I was still relaxed. I removed my jacket and popped all my belongings into the grey tray. I walked through and gave the customs official a thankful smile for not being subjected to a through pat down. My girlfriend was not so lucky but by the look of it they were doing a nice job and I think she was secretly enjoying it. As I collected my stuff a simple single thought crashed into my barely awake brain. Where was my phone? My lovely pink new iPhone 8. A phone I looked at when I didn’t need to look at it. Its closeness providing some kind of security. From what? I’ve no idea.
I used to be good. With my first iPhone on family holidays I used to go cold turkey. It was easier then somehow. I still had something called a ‘camera.’ An historic piece of equipment we carried around separately to the phone. I was so proud of my de-connection from all things social and online. I couldn’t do it now. The memory of those innocent years causes my throat to tighten and long dormant eczema to break out on my neck.
I routed around my handbag. No phone. Opal card, front door key, doggie poo bag and old piece of wrapped gum but no phone. My movements were slightly more panicked second time around. I scrambled harder. Nothing.
‘I’ve lost my phone,’ I shouted to no one in particular. ‘I’ve lost my phone.’
My friends appeared at my side. Looks of abject horror on their faces. I could tell what they were thinking. ‘Thank god it isn’t me.’
‘When did you last have it?’ one said using one of the most ridiculous sentences known to man. My frazzled mind joined in though. I was desperate. I ran through the morning. Locking the house. Feeding the dog. Closing the gate. Yes, I definitely had it. Sitting in cab.
‘The taxi,’ I shouted. I was illuminated then. My face a mix of mad and deranged joy. ‘I left it in the cab.’
‘Bugger,’ the other friend said. ‘He’ll have sold it already.’
What? My new sense of optimism crashed. Then the clever one out of the four of us said,
‘I’ll call you.’
‘Yes, yes…ring me…ring me.’ I was jumping up and down now and passers-by had started to notice.
‘No answer,’ she said.
‘Try again.’ I wasn’t going to give up so easy. She raised her eyes but did as I asked. I felt like we were suddenly in an episode of The Amazing Race. Working together to solve clues. But sod a multi-million-dollar prize. The rescue of my phone was far more important. This time somebody answered.
‘Yes,’ my friend said. ‘Pink? Yes, it is. Thank you so much.’
Memory recalls I fist pumped. She cut off the call.
‘He’s going to take it home for you.’
‘You’re really lucky,’ my other friend said.
I followed everybody through duty free. I was exhausted. In the queue for coffee it dawned on me. I would be without my phone for four days. Already I noticed I was different. I ordered my cappuccino and waited. It was a long wait. Around me heads were down. Eyes locked onto screens. What else do you do with unneeded time? I stood still. I looked around. I fiddled with the zip on my jacket. No email. No Facebook. No texts. No Twitter. No WhatsApp. No way for anybody to get in touch except through another device. A device not by my side. A device not within my control. No weather. No instant connection. No looking up immediate answers. My coffee was ready and in a panic, I took at huge gulp and burnt the top of my mouth.
We boarded the plane. I didn’t have to put my phone in flight mode. I sat still. I checked out the emergency procedures card. I tapped my fingernails on the armrest. A challenge was about to begin. I was free falling. I wasn’t going to survive. When somebody says you can’t have something you want it even more. No chocolate and you dream about the massive bar you’re going to buy from the petrol station on the way home. No phone. It wasn’t fair. I think at this point I stamped my foot on the cabin floor.
Anyway, as you can guess. I did survive. Nothing happened. My friends took the photos of us tipsy trying various wines. In the holiday cottage, I had no control over the music but that was okay. For the first time in ages I let go. There were various moments when I noticed everybody tip tapping on their phones. I sipped my Rose and was still. I observed. After the initial shock was over and done with, my brain recovered from years of device induced slumber. I didn’t have my phone to immediately switch on when I woke. So, I slept some more. I stood outside and took in the views of the Barossa. For a long-weekend I appreciated the here and now. There is life without a phone and I learnt something. I think I actually like it better. I think I may have to lose my phone more often…
Sorry…that was a lie for artistic purposes…I pray I never have to go through that bloody nightmare again.