Thursday, March 4, 2010

Life in Hell: Six Hours with a Dead iPhone

Yes, I'm a big fat loser. I spent six hours yesterday with a dead iPhone and I almost didn't know what to do with myself. Below is a blow by blow of how that time was spent leading up to the resolution of my uncomfortable predicament. Did I mention that I'm a big fat loser?

1:05 PM I'm driving back from a meeting with the folks at CSIdentity (their CEO, Bill Morrow, and I are doing a panel on identity theft at SXSW next Friday). As I'm pulling out of the parking lot, my iPhone flashes the "battery under 20%" message that always creates a bit of panic for us iPhone users. In spite of my low battery level, I'm calling my wife back to discuss paint colors for our guest bedroom (riveting stuff, I know).

1:20 PM Running from my car to a product meeting (I'm twenty minutes late), I slip into the conference room and set my iPhone down on the table knowing that in minutes, it will revert to an inanimate piece of glass/plastic/metal. I breath deeply as I remind myself that in 40 minutes, I can plug my phone back in and bring it back to life.

2:03 PM Returning to my office, I remember that I lent my charger cord to colleague, Kathy Warren. I walk down to Kathy's office and ask (okay, beg) her to let me have my cable back. Fortunately, Kathy has purchased a new cord of her own so she graciously returns mine.

2:10 PM I'm on our weekly PR call with SHIFT and working hard not to be distracted by the fact that my iPhone does not buzz as I insert the charger cord. I pull out the USB end that goes into the laptop and try it in every orifice of my Mac. And then try it in every orifice of my PC. Nothing. Gulp.

2:30 PM Breathing deeply, I ask colleague, Doug Wick, if I can borrow his phone to see if maybe my cable is the culprit. I plug in Doug's phone and in my unnerved state, mistakenly diagnose the problem as the charger cord. Phew. Bad news is, I need a new charger cord. Good news is that I don't need a new phone.

2:37 PM I walk back down to Kathy's office and let her know that it was the cord (somehow it got broken) and fighting back panic, ask if I can borrow her new cord. She kindly agrees and apologizes for breaking my cord. I tell her no sweat, I'm just happy that it's the cord not the phone.

2: 39 PM With my phone plugged in using the new cord, my phone stays black and inanimate. Nothing. Holy shit. My phone is broken. Holy shit.

3:00 PM After being temporarily distracted with e-mail and a few phone calls, I remember that it's time for staff meeting. Putting on my best game face, I wait for folks to file into my office. I convince myself to "think of a happy place."

3:05 PM I ask Doug if I can try his phone again, this time with the new cord. His phone offers up that familiar buzz saying, "I'm charging." Damn you Doug and your non-broken iPhone. I don't say this aloud of course but you can bet I was thinking it. Sorry Doug.

4:03 PM Within seconds, I start to do the math to figure out if I have time to get up to the local Apple store (20 minutes away) before I head to my sister, Heather Strout, and Maura Thomas' #BOS2AUS tweetup which starts at 5:30. Once again, I walk briskly down the hall to Kathy's office and apologize for assuming that she broke my cord and acknowledge that it was my phone, not the charger that was at fault. Looks of sympathy from Kathy, Natanya Anderson and Kursten Mitchell say at all. They know I'm in a bad place.

4:48 PM After 45 minutes of pressing the on/home button on my iPhone (while simultaneously wiggling the power cord), I resign myself to the fact my phone is dead. My last bastion of hope is that maybe my phone charge got too low and I need to actually plug my phone into an outlet vs. my computer. This glimmer of hope is enough to carry me through to 5:30.

5:32 PM Plugging my iPhone into my car charger results in the same black screen. It's okay, I convince myself. I really just need to plug my phone into an outlet (heart starts to sink as I know that I'm trying to convince myself of a lie).

5:45 PM Walking into the bar, 3rd Base, I look for my sister. My hand goes to my pocket to checkin via Foursquare. Crap. Dead phone. I think about going back to my car to get my MacBook Pro. Thinking to myself, "if I remember correctly, 3rd Base has free wifi." Realizing how unsocial this will look, I fight the urge and make my way to the bar. But what if... nevermind. MacBook Pro stays in the car.

6:30 PM Heather, Maura, Simon Salt, John Johansen, Kim Hollendshead, Jack LeBlond, Stephanie Delk, Jason Stoddard, and Haley Odom have arrived at the #BOS2AUS tweetup. I can tell they are silently mocking me as they check Twitter and Foursquare on their phones. If it weren't awkward for me to get up and pace nervously at this point, I would. I almost ask Heather if I can use her phone to checkin to Foursquare. I don't.

7:15 PM First bio break. I reach into my pocket and check my iPhone one more time, just to make sure it hasn't magically come back to life yet. Nope, screen is still black.

7:41 PM In my car headed home. At least there is ZERO risk of me trying to text/tweet while I'm driving.

8:00 PM Following a quick tucking in of the kids, I immediately race downstairs to plug my iPhone into the wall so that I can once again see the friendly "charging" symbol on the main screen. I push the cord in slowly... hold my breath... press the "on" button... and... NOTHING. WTF!!! Immediately my heart sinks as I envision myself up at the Apple store first thing in the morning. Exactly what I did not want to do was to spend $250 on a new iPhone, especially when I've been questioning whether to jump ship onto a Droid or something that doesn't ride on AT&T's network.

8:03 PM My wife, Melanie, hears me cursing at my iPhone and tells me to let her look at it. I let her know that I would love it if she could make it work but that I had tried EVERYTHING and nothing was helping. I skulk over to her and hand her my phone. She holds down the power and home screen button for 10 seconds and voila, the angelic white Apple logo appears on the main screen. What the...??? I pump my fist and kiss my wife. "Honey, you are amazing," I tell her.

What's the moral of the story? Well, living without your smartphone for six hours sucks. That's one moral. The other is, wives are the smartest people alive. At least when it comes to turning iPhones back on.


  1. Awesome story. I almost gave you my phone so you could check in on foursquare. I was kind of surprised you hadn't asked.

  2. Heather - you're a good sister. I thought I might look like too much of an addict if I made that request of you. ;)

  3. lol, Flash the pram on an Apple device. Still doing the trick 26 years later :)

  4. Very funny! Seeing that you and several others were unsuccessful at starting your phone up I think it is appropriate to end with..."Wives are the smartest people alive." (period) especially yours. :)

  5. Haha! Of course Melanie's smarter than you (and Jen than me).

    What color are you painting my bedroom?

  6. Hi Aaron,
    Glad to hear your iPhone is not broken. Sorry, I did not get a chance to meet you when you were here at CSIdentity. I am the marketing manager with CSIdentity. I am looking forward to hearing you and Bill at the SXSW panel.


  7. Mel/Jim - but of course!

    Lori - sorry I didn't get to meet you while I was over at your offices the other day. Make sure to introduce yourself after our SXSW panel next Friday!

  8. Hah, I went through the same thing about a month ago. I ran into AT&T in a panic with my black iphone in hand like I was wheeling my child into the hospital after a car accident (ok, not really, but the panic was there) 'omg can you salvage my saved stuff?'

    She holds down the buttons, the phone restarts, and she gives me a smug little grin. I said thanks, but I know my eyes said #@$@%$#%.

  9. Kevin - that is awesome. And now I don't feel so bad. ;)

  10. Hahaha! iPhones may be the single most important tool for anyone in the field of communication. Trust me, we sympathize.