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Not long ago, I mentioned in a social media post that I still carry a flip phone. A friend commented that I needed to upgrade my device. I replied, "I did. I replaced it with a new flip phone a year or so ago."
The friend left a sad face emoji on my reply and wrote, "I am sad because of how much you miss out on by not having a smartphone." Honestly, the last thing I need in my life is one more access to the internet; I have more than enough already.
One evening, Melissa was on her smartphone while I was on my tablet. We were both doing some online shopping. While we were out of town, two small cube-shaped boxes, almost the same size, arrived in the mail. The first box was addressed to Melissa, the other to me. She was still out of town, so I opened her package (at her request) to ensure the item inside wasn't damaged. It wasn’t.
Melissa ordered a cute little knick-knack; I ordered some macho stuff - parts for my motorcycle.
The knick-knack came packed in white Styrofoam peanuts - the macho motorcycle parts were shipped with pink peanuts. Hmm.
I didn't want to dump the peanuts on the counter because they make such a mess, so I ran my hand through my box to make sure I found all the small parts. Unfortunately, the pink peanuts were full of static, and I couldn't get them to stop clinging to my black shirt, my arm, and my hand; I even had one on my face. Every time I picked one from my shirt or shook one loose from my hand, another would jump from the box and grab onto me - there was one on my flannel pajama pants, too.
Thinking it was something to eat, my dog June sniffed the peanut on my leg, which then stuck to her nose. June reached up with her front right foot to knock it off her snout, and the peanut stuck to her paw. So, she used her other paw to remove the peanut, and it stuck to her left foot. So, she ate it!
"No, June! You can't eat those," I said as I pulled it out of her mouth. The peanut stuck to my hand, and I'm not sure if it was adhering by static or dog slobber.
Our cat Edgar Allan looked on observing our difficulties with sadistic glee. However, June and I had the last laugh as Edgar trotted off to the living room, unaware that a pink peanut was clinging to the black fur on his back. (It must be time to get the humidifier out for the winter.)
I used a piece of paper towel to remove the pink peanut from my hand, then tossed it in the trash - but there are two more on my pajama pants. There was no static in the white peanuts. Where is the justice?
I suppose I could have avoided this whole situation if I had a smartphone. I could have spent my time surfing the net and waited for Melissa to get home to open the packages – but then I would have missed out on a morning filled with comedic fun in the kitchen.
Yesterday, I was lying on the couch – surfing the internet on my tablet. "This is stupid," I said out loud, "A brain-dead, total waste of my time." I got up, leaving the device behind on the cushion before I ended up ordering more stuff that I didn't need – but it seemed like a good deal.
Melissa was still out of town, so I went for a ride on my motorcycle. Part of my ride included stopping at a Subway sandwich shop.
When I walked inside, I looked over the dining room. There was a family of four, a family of three, and one couple; a total of nine people sitting at three tables. They were all on their smartphones – not talking to each other and not paying attention to anything but that tiny screen in front of them.
I got in line behind a family of five ordering sandwiches. Since I didn't have a smartphone to kill time while waiting; I watched the family instead.
The mom looked exhausted as she went over the order. She counted sandwiches, cookies, bags of chips, and drink cups.
One of the kids shuffled through bags of chips on the rack while Dad told the lady behind the counter what he wanted on his sandwich. The other two children were fussing a bit, clinging to Mom's leg like Styrofoam peanuts; they were asking questions. "Just a minute, I'll be right with you," she said patiently to the kids. It was a little chaotic, but Mom held it together.
When Dad finished ordering, he turned around, straightened the chip bags, rounded up the kids, and corralled them to a table. He gently settled them down, asked them questions, and must have told some jokes because the kids were all laughing with him. I love watching dads interact with their kids in such a fun way. All the while, I sensed Mom's moment of relief while she waited on their meal.
When Mom was getting ready to pay, I said, "Excuse me." I inserted my card into the machine, saying, "It's my treat tonight." She thanked me, then carried her tray to the table. Dad helped hand out sandwiches and drinks and was still having a good time with the kids.
When I was heading for the dining room with my tray, the dad gave me a warm smile and stood up. "Thank you for buying our dinner. We appreciate it, but I'm curious, why did you do that?"
I smiled back saying, "Thank you for being a good dad. I enjoyed watching you interact with your kids. They sure seem to love their daddy. Besides, I didn't get you anything for Father's Day – so this is it." We shared a good laugh about that. He thanked me again, and I went to find a table.
I chose a seat in the corner; I like to watch people. Everyone was still on their smartphones – not one of them paid any attention to people at their table, let alone notice the family at the counter. They didn't see the parents working as a team with their kids. They missed out on the feeling of joy, love, and togetherness that radiated from the family of five.
Except for the conversation and laughter coming from the parents and their three kids, the whole restaurant was so quiet I could hear co-workers talking in the kitchen.
I ate my sandwich and thought about the friend who commented on my social media post a while back. She wrote, "I am sad because of how much you miss out on by not having a smartphone."
I smiled, recalling my response: I left a sad emoji on her comment, saying, "I too am sad because of how much you miss out on because you have a smartphone." Today was a perfect example.
I'm not suggesting anyone should trade their smartphone for a flip phone - I use a smartphone quite often myself. I don't have Siri or Alexa; I just say, "Honey, can you look up..." And just like that, I have what I need to know.
I'm just saying there's a much bigger picture happening all around me - much larger than what can be seen on a limited screen, and I don’t want to miss out on it. Who knows, there might be one around you, too.