I made a mistake: I left the United States without my iPhone. I felt like the emperor with no clothes. With no my cell phone while abroad, I was, practically speaking, stark naked.
Look at how I use mine: for directions; for flight info; for calling an Uber; for staying connected with traveling companions; for making reservations at a five-star restaurant, one with a waiting list with more names on it than the number of people who have sued Donald Trump.
In many restaurants, I rely on it to read menus on barcodes. Without my phone, I must ask a waiter for a printed menu. I don’t see him rushing to bring one.
Yes, I confess: I’m a slave to my cell phone. Now almost 20 years into owning one, I was hesitant to buy my first. I told myself I didn’t want to be tethered to a device, like a Labradoodle on a leash. I thought cell phones were for “important” people – men and women working on Wall Street deals or professional athletes with too many disposal income.
For me, though. No way …
Of course, I know how wrong I was. I’m on my, oh, 10th cell phone – a colorful collection of mostly iPhones that I bought after ditching Androids. I’m a sucker, too, for the latest models. Add any new feature, and you’ve got me ready to fork over another grand for one.
I find my iPhone most useful when I stray from home. It keeps me I touch with friends and family, but it does even more: It remembers everybody’s phone number.
Recently, I kidded a friend about this. I asked: “How many people’s numbers do you know off the top of your head?”
He answered four, maybe five. I told him I had the exact number etched in my mind. It’s a single digit; it’s the loneliest digit of all: one. Yep, one lousy number, and the reason I know it is that the number belongs to my sister.
After my mother died a decade ago, my sister grabbed the 216 number that we grew up with and turned it into her cell phone number.
She picked a wonderful number to keep, a number easily remembered, one from our childhood. Beyond hers, I drew blanks. I have no idea what my brother’s number is, and he and I share the same two-story house. For my other sister — she lives in Minneapolis — her number is a mystery; I don’t even know her area code.
As for my best friend’s number, I can forget about it. I have a better chance of figuring out Pi than I do of punching his 10 digits into my phone and hearing his voice on the other end. I just tell Siri to call Nick, and – voila! – she does.
More than the calls, not having a cell phone meant I couldn’t take photographs, which I do plenty of when I leave the U.S. So much of what I saw in Peru was worth capturing in photo or putting into a video.
I grabbed none of those moments. I did ask people I met to take photos and send ‘em my way. I’ll see if they do.
One thing I do know, I ain’t going anywhere else without my iPhone going too.