I’m terrified of my battery dying. It doesn’t matter which battery — I’m absolutely petrified of going anywhere without a fully charged phone. It’s more than being afraid of having no communication lines with rest of the world. It’s about never being able to say that last goodbye. Or the impossibility of being reached when I need to be reached.
Looking back, my first major nomophobic experience came when I played high school hockey. My team had the opportunity to play in the newest rinks across the southern part of the province. There was a cluster of years, starting about 10 to 15 years back, where each small town began to fund the creation of new hockey arenas. They are still fantastic buildings today. The majority of these arenas have a common architectural trait: concrete.
What can’t get through concrete? Cellular data waves.
I would return to the dressing room, game after game, only to find my dead cell phone. I knew that once we returned home on the bus I would have no method of communicating with my parents. I couldn’t text any of the ladies I so desperately wanted to impress. And I couldn’t check my pitiful Facebook profile on the way home.
These games began to develop a deeply instilled fear inside me. Many people view their opportunities of a connection-less world as a moment of relaxation — a moment to take a deep breath and not worry about the expectation of being “on call”. I, on the other hand, tremendously fear those moments.
A more real experience came exactly three years ago during a crazy snow storm. I had finished at the hockey rink and had an hour drive home. Before leaving town, I never thought to fill my gas tank or eat a full meal. Obviously I forgot to charge my phone battery, which had just spent two hours inside of a concrete arena. I drove head on into one of the worst storms Southern Manitoba has seen in a few years.
I ended up stuck on the side of the road 15 minutes away from my departure location at around 6:30PM. I proceeded to wait out the storm, hoping someone would pass and pick me up. Instead, nobody drove by. I had called home, texted my girlfriend-now-wife, browsed the web on my iPhone. I constantly tried to entertain myself and keep my mind off my empty stomach.
It dawned on me around 9:00PM to plug my phone into my laptop, which was, thankfully, fully charged. That turned out to be a saving grace.
Slightly past midnight, two vehicles drove past my car, which were the first signs of civilization since I got stuck on the side of the road. Mercifully, one of the drivers turned around and picked me up. The driver’s selflessness, to this day, inspires me.
Why? His wife was going into labour. And he stopped to pick me up along the way. The second vehicle was their escort.
I called my mom to let her know I had been picked up.
Both vehicles still could not escape the strength of the storm and we reached a village which had been entirely blown shut at around 3:00AM. I texted my mom and girlfriend-now-wife to give them an update of our location.
Miraculously, I knew a family that lived in the small village. I gave them a call, the man fired up his tractor, blew open the village, and we arrived at a hospital an hour later. The man with the tractor is a hero today.
The lady in labour had her child about five hours later.
I look back today at all the miraculous coincidences that occurred that night, especially the fact that those vehicles stopped to pick up a person who knew a family in that small village. I also look back at all the moments I needed to have a cell phone and I shiver thinking about a world without mobile devices.
But the dawning of the idea to charge my phone turned out to be the reason a baby girl lives today.
Whenever I think about that story, a dead phone battery terrifies me. Our phones actually helped save a life. I’m sure my phone isn’t the only phone responsible for preventing harm to human beings on a daily basis.
So, in reality, this fear of mine isn’t so much about the fear of losing battery power. It’s more about losing the utility of those communication devices. We buy products to use the product and to find value in the money we parted with. What is the point of buying a product that doesn’t work when you absolutely need it to?
That’s my fear. And I’m not necessarily ashamed to admit it.
Unless there is some other element I am not aware of. This could be the case. All I know is that my phone always read “No Service” when inside these arenas. ↩
Ironically, I met my wife after high school hockey. Maybe it was my lack of ability that pushed them away. ↩
She will be three years old already. Happy Birthday! ↩