I may have mentioned my fear of phones. It played a bizarre role in my winding career path and continues to leave me paralyzed in the face of ordering food. (I just know they’ll ask what kind of crust I want, and I just… don’t… know!)
Wendi and I have had flip phones for years, a practical necessity for people with a long commute through sparsely populated areas. Recently we’ve been having trouble getting reception in our own home, and having long since run through the contracted service duration we started looking into switching providers.
It was Wendi who suggested getting iPhones. I never asked her why. I had never really considered one. I have an iPad, and that pretty much serves my mobile needs. I didn’t feel any particular need for a smart phone of any kind. Dumb phones are terrifying enough, frankly. But I didn’t see any pressing reason to argue against it.
So last weekend we got our new iPhones.
For several days I got to know it, and I have to say I became downright enthusiastic about the device. As an object, it’s much less scary than a phone — probably because I wasn’t using it to call anyone. I downloaded some games and quickly became addicted to one where you bake bread to control cats. I sent a number of texts to Wendi. I followed my social networking feeds. I carried it with me everywhere.
Then I used it as a phone.
There’s this thing called FaceTime, which is basically a phone call with video. I knew that it existed, but I never intended to use it. One of the few blessings of phones is that you can talk without having to put on pants. So when I was talking to my brother it was purely a voice call.
I was wearing pants anyway.
While I was blathering about something or other, the line went dead. I’m afraid it always takes me a few minutes to realize that there’s nobody on the other end anymore. A bit annoyed that our new provider was proving to be just as unreliable, I pulled the phone in front of me so I could glare uselessly at it.
The product manager of my current project was looking back at me.
I mentioned that I had pants on, but up top I only had on an A-shirt. I hadn’t shaved in two days, and my bedhead was full in its untamed glory.
The manager asked warily if I needed anything.
“Nope,” I said, already hanging up.
It seems that FaceTime is perfectly designed to reinforce my fear of phones.
In the days since this incident I’ve been rebuilding a trust relationship with my iPhone, mostly by using the non-phone features. I still take it everywhere, which I never could bring myself to do with my previous cel phones. The dread of my face dialing up a video chat with a random contact is going to take a while to get over, but I’m hopeful that I can learn how to prevent that.
It might take a lot longer for that manager to recover from seeing me in my feral weekend state.