True Story: Microsoft has moved me on a profoundly philosophical level.


I’m especially sensitive to this concept right now, because I just rescued my kidnapped smartphone.

For two weeks, I have been stuck with a dumbphone.  I unplugged.  No longer needing to check in at every venue where I could earn Points and Mayorships, once again remembering how to scout down where I had stored a friend’s phone number, I returned to a past life.  The life where none of these little side tasks (like having to find a map to my destination, or godforbid write down directions) ever seemed like any great burden, and they were actually kind of fun.

I’ve had the chance to revisit them all over the last two weeks, and when someone texted my wife’s phone to announce they had found and recharged said phone, my joy was moderate.

Yay!  I get my phone back.  Ok.  It was fun, smartphoning, wasn’t it?

I put off making the drive out to Washougal, the home city of the 14-year old who had somehow come to possess it, for a few days.  Finally I had the time in my schedule where I could do it this evening, and I spent an hour in the rain and traffic, in no particular hurry.  I noticed myself not trying to check my email by my gearshift, or pulling up facebook just to see if anything clever was going on.  I watched the rain diffuse the brakelights lined up in symmetrical curves before me, and I listened to music, and I had some time to chill.

When I finally make it to my quarry’s house an hour later, I stand in the rain, thank them profusely and offer good karma and a $20 bill, and the fourteen year old boy who has been texting me all week takes it abashedly.

His mother stands behind him, staring, all the while…into her smartphone.

It’s like she doesn’t see that a stranger is on her doorstep.  Someone who could offer terror or enlightenment, a potential friend, a real live connection to the outside world.

Instead she is fascinated by the digital connections concentrated in the palm of her hand, and doesn’t see me when I wave and go.

The boy smiles a crooked, jealous smile at me as I take my leave.  He’s not allowed to have his own smartphone yet.

“Don’t worry,” I assure him as I close the door.  “There’s plenty of time to get lost, later.”

As I go back to my car, I log back on, and check my email as I drive through the rain.