Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Too smartphone

I was going to say, I don't know what I'd do without my smartphone; but since last night, when I fell off the jetty into five feet of water with my smartphone in my pocket, I know all too well. I'd reach for it all the time, I'd miss it, I'd want it and from time to time I'd even need it. They're so smart these days that not only do they contain your life, they have lives of their own. If I lose my smartphone in the big city, I just have to log on to the internet and the phone will tell me which cafe I left it in, wipe its own memory remotely on command, and/or display a message with my contact details when someone tries to use it; which means I can retrieve my smartphone and have a latte to celebrate.

What happened was that I walked to the bottom of the jetty to set the stern anchor on the rowing boat, something I have to do every night if I don't want the boat to get caught under the jetty on the rising tide, and sink. I hadn't scrubbed the walkway for a few weeks, so it was pretty slick, and when I swung the anchor behind me a couple of times and let go, my feet went from under me and I went with the anchor. I swallowed a fair amount of seawater and felt a sensation somewhere in the grey area between extreme surprise and mild shock. Even in mid-fall, before hitting the water, I had reached for my smartphone in the hope that I could somehow hold it above my head and keep it dry - I was prepared to die to save my smartphone - but I never even got my hand into my pocket. Instead, I found the the phone through the fabric and cupped it tightly against my left thigh. What was I thinking, that my hand was waterproof? The thing is, in extreme emergencies like this - a child in the water, a dog in danger of drowning, a smartphone at risk - you don't think at all, you just react.

When, standing in the shallows, I finally managed to extricate the phone from the sodden and clinging folds of my trousers, I discovered it was still on - as a matter of fact, the screen looked perfectly normal. Relieved beyond words, I fumbled with the back until the battery popped out; strode - stumbled - up the foreshore to the cabin, shed my clothes and fished out Lynn's hairdryer from a basket in the bedroom; where I stood, naked and shivering, holding the smartphone in one hand and the hairdryer in the other, and praying that my first aid was effective, and in time. Sad to say, it was neither. After perhaps five minutes I decided to replace the battery and turn it on..

Now, you don't want to find this out for yourself, so you're going to have to take my word for it. When an Android smartphone knows that it is sick beyond help, three smug-looking little androids skateboard across the bottom of the screen doing an SOS dance in semaphore. It's as if, on its deathbed, the phone has decided to have the last laugh by going beyond smart and into the realms of smart-ass. I couldn't help smiling, but I'm determined not to allow my next smartphone to become so familiar.
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