I broke my iPhone. It was dumb, and it was my fault. I hadn't gotten the insurance on it, and hadn't bothered to get a decent case for it, either. Just a flimsy clear plastic one, so it almost looked like it didn't have a case, except for the scratches and sticky fingerprints. I had gone running the morning I broke it, and distinctly remember thinking "I should really get a better case for this thing" as I ran over the concrete sidewalks with it in my hand. I was determined to have every step counted on my Health Kit app, for some silly, obsessive reason probably related to my lingering delusion that I am actually in shape, rather than just in-shape-enough to continue to wear miniskirts and jeggings as I near the end of my twenties.
I successfully did not break my phone while holding it and running. However, I DID drop it as I pulled it out of my pocket on my three-minute walk to work (that's not a joke, it's a three-block/three-minute commute), because apparently I'm one of those people who can't go three minutes without checking their email/texts/Instagram. I drop my phone all the time because I'm clumsy but this time it finally landed face-down on some scraggely concrete and the screen cracked into a million tiny pieces. I actually tried to dust it off with the palm of my hand and appropriately received a glass splinter that immediately started to bleed. I knew I had had it coming to me. I knew I didn't properly value this thing I couldn't even afford to pay for all at once.
And yet, I panicked. I frantically texted my boyfriend on my laptop that "holy shit, I smashed my fucking phone", and proceeded to spend my lunch break on my coworker's phone with Apple Care trying to get an appointment to get mine fixed. The earliest slot they had was the following day, but the only time I could get there in the next four was that night. Long story short, I showed up at the Apple store a day before my appointment time, they kindly helped me anyway, and what followed as I waited for my iPhone to be fixed was nothing short of a transformative experience.
I had an hour to kill, without a phone, and surrounded by consumer opportunities. Apple stores don't exist in deserts, after all. I wandered around the mall where I had found myself, a most unusual habitat indeed. I self-soothed myself when I realized I couldn't even go on Instagram, or Google something unnecessary like "cat hats", or text my boyfriend a picture of the sign in front of Victoria's Secret: "Panty Party!!". He would have loved that. I took some deep breaths.
I had heard or read somewhere recently that Starbucks had just started serving wine and beer, at least in Seattle. I thought, hey, maybe I'll check that out. If it turned out that there was not actually wine involved, I was also in the mood for some chai or a lovely cup of peppermint tea. I had passed a couple of bars, which I occasionally like to be in by myself and talking to no one, but I was not in a bar mood, I was in a cafe mood. And Lo and Behold, miracle of miracles, I stumbled across a Starbucks in a mall in Seattle. And there was wine.
I did something I don't typically do, but I was feeling spontaneous so I asked for wine samples. They had two red blends on their menu, and by the way, nothing had prices, and I didn't ask, but still, why no prices?! Anyway, the girl behind the counter said normally NO but YES, only because she had a bottle of each that was already open. I was forever in her debt. They were distinctly different; I ordered the better one of course.
I grabbed a table in the back next to a college girl who appeared to be studying, and across from an older lady who appeared to be a weirdo. I sat there for awhile, sipping my wine and spying on everyone around me. That didn't last long, and I quickly pulled out the only things in my backpack I had to keep me occupied: a zine I had already read and a blank envelope I used to store my tips from the restaurant where I work on Sundays.
I reread a few pages of the zine, and then something incredible happened. I found myself with thoughts in my head that I wanted to put down on paper. I started scrawling words onto that envelope while intermittently laughing to myself and continuing to drink my wine. I was the crazy one but I did not care. This hasn't happened in a long time.
The barista who had rung me up came out from behind the counter and sat next to the college girl near me. 'Oh, that's cute', I thought, 'she's waiting for her boyfriend to get out of work'. But no, it appeared that they were just friends who were both dating other people but planning to leave the city very soon for separate study abroad programs. He was suspiciously complimentary of her, and kept suggesting that they hang out before she left for Cambodia/Spain/Uganda/Wherever. She sounded less interested but she was, after all, hanging around the Starbucks where her good dude friend worked. I could not stop listening. He stayed chatting with her way past when his break was supposed to end, but he didn't care because there was an extra person working that night, a new trainee. Makes sense.
I left before he went back to work, and silently thanked them both for such a great eavesdropping experience. I was feeling surprisingly positive as I left that Starbucks, despite the fact that I had broken a very expensive thing that I sadly relied on all day, every day. I was hoping that the screen was all that needed to be fixed, since I couldn't even really afford to pay for that repair. I also wanted to know if all of my data had been lost: photos, contact information, emails, the works. That was less important to me than just having my phone fixed, but still, it wouldn't be fun if that happened.
After waiting at the table with all of the other people who had smashed their phones' screens that day, a fabulously nerdy girl breezed over with my phone and rang me up for the repairs. Just the screen. She was about to leave when I blurted out, "Is my data gone??". Oh no, you're fine, she assured me. She bounced away. I sat in shock for a few minutes, then got up and drove home, numb and happy. My precious iPhone was back and I was never going to let anything bad happen to it ever again. But more importantly, I had gotten a break from having it. Just sitting in a cafe for an hour without a screen in my hand had been so refreshing. A nice reminder of life before smartphones, or even the internet. My brain still works.