The emergency room sliding glass doors whooshed open as my husband ventured out to the darkened streets of Brooklyn. He was searching for a phone charger. As you might guess, this late night hunt was not on our trip’s itinerary.
We had landed in an unfamiliar neighborhood after abruptly leaving my dear cousin’s most beautiful Prospect Park wedding. My father had experienced a surprise medical situation. (Dad’s fine, thanks.) Fortunately, we enjoyed the important nuptial highlights before the sudden switcharoo in plans.
As the hospital clock ticked along with the beeps and boops of medical machinery, my husband and I had been sending thumbs-up photos and updates to the gang at the reception. But within a few hours, both of our cell batteries hit the red zone.
A certain desperation kicks in when one has to text important information over “low battery” warnings. This was not a time for messages like “lol” and “I have a hangnail derp derp derp.” Some serious communicating was going on.
I asked a few folks around the ER if there happened to be any spare chargers around. With all the wires bursting out of walls and rolling gadgetry, I was injected with a false hope that just one cord would fit in an iPhone port. But as they say in that particular city, fuggeddaboudit. We were on our own, and the stores were nearing closing time.
After roaming a Barnes & Noble, a chain pharmacy and who knows where else, my man was bouncing around charger-less. He finally hit the jackpot at a deli. Of course: a Brooklyn deli saves the day.
“I’ll take a Rueben, potato salad and an off-brand phone juicer, please.” We were back in business, which was a good thing, because we didn’t leave the hospital until after 2 a.m.
I learned two things that night.
1. Never use a clutch purse. They’re just fancy, awkward envelopes that barely hold one lipstick and a half piece of Trident gum. That’s why I punted the idea of bringing a charger. What a mistake.
2. If you’re attending any extraordinary out-of-town event, bring a battery back-up or charger no matter what. Make the thing a centerpiece on your statement necklace. Lodge it between your navel and a good pair of Spanx. Tuck it in your nephew’s man bun. Just. Bring. The. Charger.
This reeks of serious cell phone dependence. That’s where we are today, right? Phone booths are gone. Landlines are dwindling. Ham radios are awkward to lug around. But we are human, life is complicated, and we must communicate.
I will underscore this anxious existence with another recent family cell phone mishap. Our study abroad son Facetimed us some days back via his laptop. His opening greeting was basically, “Hey, Happy-Father’s-Day-I-washed-my-cellphone.” (He’s keeping up with his laundry!)
A low-pixel, NASA moon landing video connection did not hide what I saw in his face. There is no furrowed brow like the furrowed brow of a 21-year-old embedded in South America with a broken phone. Welcome to the ’70s, kid.
For days, we lingered at the stage of “Welp.” We researched options. There were crazy shipping fees and astronomical taxes. We looked at the calendar. Is a mid-summer return to the U.S. that far away? Yes and no.
Then, just the other day, as college boy and I were messaging each other laptop-to-desktop, he mentioned he’s always around others who are celled-up. This is what he typed, verbatim:
“Yeah I don’t really even need a phone.
Fall to the floor, fellow parents of young adults. Join me as I whiff some smelling salts. Pinch me. I’m certain he’s the first millennial on the entire planet to ever type the above combination of words.
However, by the time you read this, there’s a chance the kid is grasping some kind of Uruguayan rental cell right now. (The uPhone?) After my own low battery panic, I would completely understand.
Reach Denise Snodell at email@example.com. On Twitter @DeniseSnodell