Phoneless!

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When you lose one of your five senses, the other four are heightened. After last week, I can update that statement. When you accidentally leave your phone home and are gone all day, all your five senses are heightened.

Last Saturday, in the craziness of getting everyone packed, making sure all have used the bathroom one last time, grabbing a storehouse of food and drinks, going around the block then going back to the house for forgotten iPads, Big Papa here left his phone on the living room couch. Yes, Dear Reader, I survived being phoneless for eight hours and nine minutes! And what happened during that day surprised even me.

The study of time has always fascinated me. Go back in time, change one thing and it changes everything, and by doing so, the events that led up to your going back in time didn’t happen which prevents you from going back in the first place. You also can’t go forward in time because it hasn’t happened.

A way to go back or forward in time hasn’t been invented yet, but anyone who owns a phone has the ability to slow time. All you have to do is leave your phone at home and the passage of time will be reduced to a crawl.

But there are some advantages to being phoneless for an entire day, and in my case, it saved my life. But have no worries. If you too accidentally leave your precious distracting device at home, I’ve already found out you can live without it … at least for eight hours and nine minutes.

I first noticed Mr. Phone was missing ten minutes into the drive towards our fun-filled day at the neighborhood pool. Upon asking our granddaughters if we should turn around, a thundering “NOOOOO” almost shook the car off the road.

It was decided. Big Papa would have to go the entire day not answering any emails, texting anyone, calling or answering the phone or (and this is the big one) looking at social media and news feeds.

If that wasn’t a big enough sacrifice, no pictures of anyone would be taken! Pulling into the pool parking lot, I could only think of one thing: What am I going to do all day?

Carrying their giant floating frogs, two very happy girly girls jumped into the water as I plopped down in a lounge chair under an huge umbrella. Wasn’t long before I observed everyone above the age of twelve was looking down at their phone or had it up next to their ear talking. (Even two adults in the water were on their phones!)

Not one was enjoying the kids playing in the pool, watching as they zoomed down the water slide, listening to the birds chirping, or noticing the brown tail hawk. Only I saw the hawk fly so low overhead that you could almost reach up and touch him. (His eyes were brown.) Not a single person was listening or enjoying the beautiful world around them. No one except me.

The entertainment was endless from my poolside phoneless zone. Our granddaughters floated around on their giant frogs, slid down the waterslide every which way possible, squirted water guns, and dove into the deep end after their Barbies. Big Papa here was happy sitting under his giant umbrella, watching, listening, and learning.

Other than occasionally looking up from their phones, the other parents totally missed what their kids were doing for the entire day. There were hours of entertainment in and around the pool they were oblivious to.

For example, four boys were throwing a football over the deep end of the swimming pool. I watched and smiled as they jumped, flipped, and leaped into the pool while trying to catch or throw the ball. It didn’t make much sense to me with an open field just on the other side of the pool fence, but I guess the same could’ve been said of any game we played back on Flamingo Street.

I was about to get irritated that no parent was watching them but suddenly realized that, sadly, this summer I’ve also been one of those people paying more attention to my phone than the kids around me without realizing it.

So how did forgetting my phone save my life? After lunch, the boys continued throwing and diving after their football in the deep end of the pool. A little after 1:00 p.m. the game of catch-n-dive ended abruptly when one misguided throw bounced off my lounge chair, almost hitting me. If I’d been looking down at my phone, I couldn’t have dodged the football. It would’ve hit me right in the head and killed me right then and there … probably.

From now on, every pool day this summer I will leave my phone at home so I can enjoy the girls playing and, if those boys are also at the pool, dodge any incoming killer footballs.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]