038: Stupid Smartphone

Ahhh!” Chelsi exclaimed in frustration at her phone.  Whenever she tried to check her email, Peace Corps favorite way of keeping in touch, the screen of her phone went dark and she had to hold down the power button to boot it back up. “I hate this!”
Chelsi had purchased her first smartphone ever after arriving in Zambia.  She felt reluctant at first, seeing as how she had made it all that time in the States without one while everyone else she knew there was glued to the glow of their screen.  ‘How is it then that I would need one in Zambia, where there isn’t even WiFi?’ she reasoned aloud with her friend Rachel.
‘You don’t need WiFi,’ Rachel explained. ‘You can use data. To check your email, facebook, write your blog.’
‘Woah, how do you get data?’ She was a novice, what was for sure.
While standing in the MTN, mobile network store, the point she was convinced that she would be best off purchasing a smartphone, she picked out a phone that factory made, sported a rubbery casing and a screen size about half of what her peers had selected.  I need to adjust slowly, she thought.
Over the course of the past year she had cultivated a complex love/hate relationship with the device.  This was a hate streak.
Chelsi was waiting on time sensitive email responses from her program manager about teaching a rabbit harvest workshop in Mafumbwe, and a co-worker from her time working with Forest Service about an anti-malaria/ bat house project she conceived a few weeks before.  Also in her email were the directions to register for an international absentee ballot for the 2016, instructions so kindly handed out by Peace Corps, two weeks before the applications are due. 
The purple LG globe glowed once again on her screen.  Her heart raced and her palms sweat, “please work.”
How had it come to this? How has this little itty, bitty machine come to be such a powerful force in my life that it can throw me in to such an emotional state!
“Yes, there is the ability to place and receive calls, both under the necessity of an emergency and for the general emotionally uplifting conversation with a familiar voice form home. But still…” The screen changed to a hue of pink. Among cotton-candy clouds, an elephant floated in the background, topped off in a bright red party hat. The phone felt through its innards to bring up what it can recall to the screen. She knew it wasn’t the same, but viscerally she felt the same way she figured she would if she were comforting a dear friend with epilepsy, or maybe narcolepsy. “Seeing as I use it to keep in touch with family and friends, here and at home, chat, post my blog, I would feel incredibly lonely without.” And not just without friends, but news from NPR, podcasts that keep me company when I work out in the yard, books as I eat dinner, movies while I lie in bed, drinking tea, falling asleep
After giving it a few moments to collect itself she knocked in the passcode to bring her into the machine, to her home screen.  She smiled when she was greeted with the sleeping face of her tiny puppy, resting on her pursue; the blue background a sharp contrast to the previous pink.  The icons blinked, first little green android monsters, than the more familiar shapes denoting different apps. 
Chelsi held her breath as her phone searched for network.  Moreover, if I had to replace it, it would take a while before I could afford it. Probably. The phone she had now, she had paid 800kw when she bought it in Lusaka, using American currency she had brought and converted for that purpose.  The Kwacha had lost a third of its value since she arrive the previous year; and yet for some unexplainable reason everything on the market increased in price by half, or sometimes doubled. 
A few little white bar popped up at the top of her screen. She let her breath out, she felt hopeful. She switched on her data and refreshed her email. 
“That’s it, I’m done.” She declared, walking into her bedroom, thrusting the phone with the pitch black screen on to her bookshelf.  “Just one more of a number of examples as to why we can’t have nice things.” She let the frustration out with her voice. “Zambia.”
‘Yeah, you’ll go through like a dozen phones while you’re here,’ the voices of by gone Zambia volunteers echoed in her head. Chelsi wasn’t giving up though, just putting it way for now.  After all, she knew that she usually predicted the pain of a future loss to be worse than it actually was when it came to pass.  “If it really is done for, I’ll feel better about it in a day or two when I revisit it.  And if not great.” She looked down at her darling Daisy, lying on her mat up against the wall. Her curly tail started to thump against the floor when their eyes met. Chelsi smiled

Categories: Drama, Science & Technology, Thriller | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “038: Stupid Smartphone

  1. Sandy

    Glad Daisy made you smile. 🙂
    I hope your phone revived itself the next day. Sending good phone vibes.


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