Tales from the Cell Phone Crypt

by Martha Valerio

My phone died a few weeks ago while I was visiting Houston.

In 2019 this is not a big deal or at least it shouldn’t be since we have these nice little things called phone chargers.

But alas, I found myself alone, leaving the parking lot of the Houston Zoo and as I was pulling out my screen goes black. So, because I have been driving mindlessly, totally at the mercy of Siri’s directions for the past 8 years or so, I pull over and think:

“I’ll just give my phone a chance to charge and turn back on.“

Five, ten, twenty minutes pass by and my screen is still a horrid shade of lifeless black. I suddenly remembered my girlfriend had connected her phone in my car earlier in the week and then saying:

“Wow that’s strange, my battery percentage didn’t increase one bit.”

That’s when I realized I found myself in somewhat of a predicament. I was utterly, utterly lost. Quick fact about Houston...It's BIG, TEXAS BIG! It measures 655 square miles so really it could contain the cities of New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Miami!!!!

I couldn’t remember, not even remotely, how to make it back to my hotel. I knew the name of the hotel but not even the slightest clue of the address. When I asked the locals for directions to the name of my hotel they were no help! Some would just give me weird looks and say "Why don't you just look it up on your phone, use your GPS." *sigh* I mean, if I had that option, I wouldn't be here! (However, I don't blame them. Really, nowadays, people don't know how to give directions... who knows where north, south, east or even west are located... Not me!) I was in the medical area with next to no businesses around to ask to use a charger. The medical center here in Houston has it's own zipcode!!!! I stopped at quite a few different fast food places to ask to borrow a charger and quickly found out people just don’t help people these days, nor are they keen on letting you borrow their phone. Stopped at different gas stations to buy the charging box, but to no avail...they were all sold out! Really? Three gas stations...Really?

Panic started to set in as hours had now gone by and I still could not find someone to offer any kind of assistance. Finally, I pulled into a Denny’s and a good Samaritan allowed me to use their charger. I had never been so relieved in my life to see that little apple logo on my phone light up. Of course, as soon as it turned on I received a phone call from my husband who greeted me with a very enthusiastic “Why aren’t you answering your phone?!”.

As I drove back to the hotel to the sound of Siri’s sweet, sweet voice I pondered over the valuable life lessons learned that day. Such as:

1. Don’t let your phone get even close to dying when you’re alone and in a strange city.

2. Have a backup car charger or mobile charger. (Ironically, I have multiple mobile chargers, none of which I bothered to bring with me on this trip.)

3. Don’t be lazy! Write important information down or grab a business card of the hotel you’re staying at. You never know when knowing these details will save your day.

4. Phone dependency… it’s real. I have it. I’m sure most of us do. We don’t remember important phone numbers, addresses, or directions anymore. In most cases this is not an issue but when it is an issue; BOY is it an issue!

And last, but not least,

5. Be more aware. As a store owner, it opened my eyes to be more accommodating to people that are in need of any kind of help. Say, customers come into my business needing directions or need to use the bathroom, a cup of water, I want to be there for them.

I’m sure we all have our phone dependency horror stories, but I wanted to share mine to help another poor soul avoid the trauma! Let us know if you have gone through such a traumatic experience as such.

Happy Summer ventures! 

Martha