The Rockwood Files: The day the iPhone died

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

It was a sad, dark day. I was sitting next to my 7-year-old son Jack when it happened. He was happily playing air hockey on my iPhone when – blip – it went black.

“Hey, what happened?” he said while pushing buttons to try to get the hockey game back.

“Battery must be low,” I said. I plugged the charging cord into the phone, expecting to hear the familiar “bloop” sound it makes when it’s charging. But there was no “bloop”. There was only silence. I was a little worried but thought surely it would begin to charge and be fine again in an hour or so.

Three hours after the initial “blip” into blackness, the 2-year-old phone still hadn’t “blooped” back to life on its charging cord. I tried different outlets. I tried different chargers. I pressed all the buttons in a variety of sequences. I shook it, begged it and even briefly considered smacking it, the way I’d seen my dad “fix” the television set when the screen began to roll. But nothing worked. I had to accept reality. It was gone.

I’m embarrassed to admit that the death of a smartphone had any effect on me, but it did. Almost immediately, I felt a little jittery. I had the nagging feeling I’d left something important behind – like a leg or a kidney. I imagined all kinds of dire scenarios in which I might desperately need my phone but wouldn’t have it.

But the truth is I just needed a technology fix. It bothered me to know there were millions of other smartphone users out there checking email remotely or staring at the electronic letter tiles on their Scrabble app, yet I was sitting there with no triple word score and no email inbox to call my home. Plus, my poor children had no electronic air hockey, for goodness sakes! No fruit to slash with their ninja swords and no angry birds to slingshot across the screen. Oh, we were a desperate, miserable lot.

The day after the iPhone died, I made a beeline for the store to get a new one. I told myself I was only in a rush because we were going on a long car trip later that day and it would be irresponsible to be on the road with no phone to use in case of emergency. I somberly handed the dead phone to the salesperson and asked if there was anything that could be done. She tried a few lifesaving measures and then shook her head slowly, suggesting its time of death had come.

So I picked out a newer model, paid for it and put it in my purse along with its cold, black predecessor. I synched the new phone with my computer, and the Earth finally settled back onto its axis. I basked in the soft glow of the shiny new screen. All was right in the technological world. And the new phone has a few bells and whistles the last one didn’t, so I feel as though I’m falling in love all over again.

Today, as I was searching for a pen in my purse, I spotted the dead phone at the bottom of my bag. I took it out and laid it on the kitchen counter, knowing eventually it would meet its fate at the bottom of the junk drawer. But before it got there, Jack came along, spotted the phone and plugged it into the nearest charging cord because he wanted to play Tetris. My back was turned when this happened, but I spun around as soon as that charging cord connected with the dead iPhone because I heard something go “bloop”!

I rushed across the kitchen and, sure enough, it was alive! The dearly departed smartphone had been raised from the dead by a kid not old enough to ride most roller coasters. It was a miracle, I tell you. Missed text messages and phone numbers instantly appeared on the screen, and the little red battery symbol showed it was charging and ready for business as usual.

Of course, by now it’s too late to return the new phone, and I feel strangely guilty about cheating on the old phone with a newer model. The kids have offered to take ownership of the old phone, but I think they’re still too young. It’s bad enough their mother has become an iPhone junkie. They’re just a couple of cool apps away from ending up just like me.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.


1 Comment

  1. I am ashamed to admit just how much I identify with you in the loss of the phone. I will confess to having a remarkably similar thing happen with a dead phone that later seemed to revive after a few days and after I already had a new one. I will also confess to my relief when my new phone was activated and I was back in tech world. I’m certain we’re not alone in the moment of panic when the phone goes dead. It might be some special signature emotional reaction of the 21st century.

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