It happened last night. First the battery icon on my iPhone went from green to red, popping up the 20% warning. I was looking right at it when it happened, like a pot of water boiling as I watched it, or a piece of toast popping up just as I look at the toaster. Maybe it was because it had caught my attention, but a kind of anxiety gripped me.
I saw in that icon the human condition, our own batteries running down, and 20% never seemed so small. The red line like the spot of blood after a coughing fit that tells you the inevitable is near. Maybe you’ll get one more warning but certainly you’ll reach that point where the spinner barely has time to register before the whole thing shuts down.
After a while I plugged the phone in and felt a sense of relief. We may run down, but we can recharge. We may be damaged, but we can survive. This phone whose warrantee was voided years ago by a Cambodian toilet, whose glass was smashed to bits and replaced, yet wore the cracks of years of hard work and world travel.
Sitting there, reading for a while more, just a little while more, in the middle of a sentence, the screen went blank. A bit of frantic troubleshooting as we confirmed the charger was working, and tried another charger, many confused minutes of button pushing and holding, and finally, resignation.
The world’s toughest iPhone gave up the ghost, and I can’t afford a replacement right now. For the first time since 2007, when I slept on the sidewalk in front of the Apple Store for the phone I already knew would make my career, I am alone.
Goodbye, old friend.