Living on the wrong side of the cracks

September 30, 2012 

Someday a kid is going to see those old depression-era photographs of people standing in long lines to get life's scarce necessities and comment, "Gee! I didn't know they had iPhones in the 1930s!"

No, little Bobby (assuming a kid named Bobby will be the one to say that), they weren't in a line to get the newest iPhone. There was a time that folks had to line up for things they actually needed … like bread, milk, gasoline and Jimmy Buffett tickets.

I confess that I was a little late to the smart phone game. As someone who hates to talk on a phone, I've always been a little slow to jump on any new phone-related bandwagon. But when my old flip phone finally bit the dust last year, I relented and got a smart phone.

Being able to check the weather radar, see the latest sports scores and find the least painful place to pump my truck full of gas is a convenience I'm thankful to have. Although, apparently not thankful enough to not drop my iPhone face-down in a parking lot. If you're considering dropping your iPhone face-down on asphalt, I strongly advise you to reconsider as this could make the glass cover look an awful lot like a spider web.

That's right. I shattered my iPhone screen, even though I've got my phone encased in one of those boxes that's supposed to be able to repel meteors and withstand the weight of a thousand elephants. Nothing bad could possibly happen to an iPhone in one of these boxes unless you can make it land just right against a hard surface. At least I now know I can do something right.

Like a lot of things on this device that Chinese make at a cost of about two bucks, it might cost me $100 or more to replace this tiny piece of glass. I didn't realize there was such a glass shortage. Forget investing in gold. When Congress pushes our country over the fiscal cliff (which will be its first accomplishment of 2012), be sure you've invested in glass.

So I've chosen to live with the shattered glass to punish myself for dropping it in the first place and because it works well enough. Sure, it's a little harder to read emails and I might cut myself throwing Angry Birds, but it's good enough. My wife insists it is embarrassing, but I think it has character, and there are many more things embarrassing about me. And, my keeping this shattered phone shows that I'm not the kind of moron who would camp out all night to get a phone I could buy with much less hassle two weeks later. I'm the kind of moron who would proudly display a phone that now looks like it is covered by cobwebs.

And I've found that in the few days I've had a shattered phone, I've used it much less and been much happier. As Jimmy Buffett sings in "Tonight I Just Need My Guitar", "Need is a relative thing these days; it borders on desire; the high-tech world is full of bright, shiny things we think that we really require."

Indeed, smart phones are nice, but hardly required or worth lining up. Maybe I'm just a simple man. But beyond my guitar, pencils, paper, a hammock, a loyal dog, a smart kid, sunshine, waves, juicy steaks, a pickup truck, margaritas, a secret fishing hole and the love of a good woman, there ain't much I require … and even fewer things I'm willing to line up for.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to rub my finger over my jacked up iPhone and Google "margarita specials."

Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. Follow him at

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