Parting Glances: Keys! Wallet! iPhone! (Amen.)

By |2018-03-14T13:52:21-04:00March 14th, 2018|Opinions, Parting Glances|

After five years of faithful, heavy-duty service the battery in my expensive gift Shinola wrist watch expired. I should have known it was going to happen, because, for the past several weeks, its second hand hesitated, stopping completely for milli-seconds, before lunging forward by five-minute notches at a time.
In spite of this, its time was impeccably accurate, so I ignored the warning signal.
I took the watch in for replacement at a nearby busy, busy outlet, but was told I’d have to return the next day for battery replacement as the technician wasn’t available. (Probably enjoying the long overdue, 52-degree sunshine.) I said I’d return. Replacement of battery is free I was told.
For the rest of the day, an annoying and curious thing kept happening. Until finally, embarrassed by my own automatic behavior, I took my watch off.
My embarrassment? I found that every half hour or so — sometimes at 15 or 20 minutes intervals without thinking — I kept looking at my watch as if to get my bearings for where I was and for what was expected next on my day’s unplanned, free agenda.
Several of those instances I reminded myself that my watch was not working, the battery was dead, dead, dead, but to no avail. I automatically kept checking to see what time it is, er, was, or might be. Most disconcerting!
If such ingrained behavior isn’t problematic enough I have come to the realization that I, as a senior citizen in a busy metropolitan city, am totally dependent of knowing with certainty three things: Where my iPhone is, where my keys are and whether or not I have my wallet.
I call these three conditions of contemporary existence my “trinity of personal salvation.” I panic if an item is out of place or missing. When I say “panic” I am not exaggerating. Without my iPhone, for example, I have no meaningful contact with friends, the outside world, or 411 — Grindr is not an option at my age).
There was a time when one could find a pay telephone on most city corners. Today, such coin-operated mediators between self and substance are antiques at best, or archaic boxes for grafiti embellishment or once-in-a-pinch shelters in a thunderstorm.
At my age I can remember when the technology was limited to the dial-your-number telephone — “It’s your nickel, sir!” — and the living room radio for entertainment, news and social enlightenment. And as a kid, magical enjoyment of Saturday’s program of “Let’s Pretend.”
I remember also seeing my first black-and-white TV. The screen was no more than eight-by-10-inches, while the console that housed it took up most of the corner of the living room. (Gay note in passing: I had my first “crush” on a regular of the weekly “Paul Whiteman Show.” Whiteman was a popular band leader.)
Today’s SmartPhone has made brainiacs of us all. Ask and ye shall receive. Whatever info your curiously little, infinite minds wants to know, Google, Yahoo and Wikipedia will give you the knowledge. What you do with it is your down business, just don’t get caught with your panic down.
And, whatever you do, for heaven’s sake — and your own sanity — don’t misplace or lose your cellphone, your keys or your wallet. (Intellectual virginity, optional.)

About the Author:

Charles Alexander