The Shocking Day My Husband Took My Cell Phone Away

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The other morning my husband Randy did something so unexpected, so out of the blue, so sudden, so surprising, I gasped in sputtering disbelief. “It’s for your own good,” he said as I stood there, blinking back tears. I never thought I’d see this behavior in my spouse of 37 years.

Yes, Randy snatched away my cell phone. “You’re always in your own world, Laurie. You’re addicted to screens. You don’t hear half of what I say.”

I stared in disbelief. “That’s not true. Wait…I’m sorry…what?”

He pocketed the device with an irritating knowingness. “Exactly. I dare you to go without your phone or laptop for half a day. If I’m wrong, that shouldn’t be a problem.”

I tried to appear nonchalant, but inwardly I panicked. How would I check my latest Facebook post? Or Twitter feed?

How would I know the weather forecast? News? Stocks? Mail? How would I listen to music or view the latest Eckhart Tolle video?

How would I play Words with Friends or see the latest cute puppy meme?

What would happen if — God forbid — I wanted to drive somewhere without my cell phone? What if my car broke down and I had to ring a stranger’s doorbell?

I took deep breaths. I can do this, I told myself. Since this was Saturday, I could go without writing and the laptop. But go without the phone? Good God.

Over the next few hours, I drifted around the house and wondered what we did before cell phones. How did we all exist? What did we do with our time? I honestly couldn’t remember.

But then a few more hours passed and something strange happened.

I took my daily walk. Instead of looking down constantly at my phone to put another song on my I-Pod or see how many steps I’d taken, I actually looked around. I saw how the light seemed brighter and stronger than usual. Something had shifted with the earth. I saw how beautiful the leafy tree branches looked against the blue sky.

I cleaned my house without stopping every few minutes because my cell phone “pinged” with the latest notification. I felt more focused and in the moment.

As more time passed, I realized Randy was right. I do spend too much time gazing at my phone. Without it, I felt lighter, not so tethered to the world and its problems. My ego didn’t base its worth on how many “likes” or “retweets” or “pins” I had.

Later that night, Randy and I went out to dinner. He had given me back the phone by then, but I had gotten used to it not being there. There were no furtive glances to check headlines as Randy looked at the menu. There was no diving in and reading texts and emails while he went off to use the restroom.

Out of habit, Randy had the waiter take our picture and posted it to Facebook.

A few minutes later, he picked up his phone to see if people were starting to respond. I took the device from his hand. “What’s good for me is good for you,” I told him.

He gazed in confusion. “But I need to check how many likes we have!”

I smiled. “You were right about the cell phone, but that goes for both of us. Remember in the old days, we used to just, er, talk?”

Like two scientists on an archeological dig, we tried to remember those ancient times, before children, when it was just us. Like a conversational high-wire act, we conversed back then without a safety net. We entertained each other. We didn’t have devices sitting there — distracting and diverting us with their seductive siren song. Come see what I have to show you. You can have the world at your fingertips. All you have to do is pick me up.

I looked at Randy and a strange idea dawned. “Do you think we can have a meal without any smart phone usage?”

His eyes became determined. “I believe we can.”

I felt like Thelma and Louise about to drive off the cliff. I took his hand. “We can do this.”

He squeezed back. “Let’s go for it.”

He slipped his phone back into his pocket.


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  1. Yes, we can get tied up in our phones so easily. I worked for a wireless company and started there back in 1991 before everyone had a phone. I remember the exact moment in which I realized that we changed how society behaved. I was driving home and saw 4 teenage girls walking and talking together. But they weren’t talking to each other, they were talking on their phones. That was over 12 years ago, those teenagers probably now have children who will only know a life in which we are connected 24×7.

    • Jennifer, I see that all the time. There will be four people having dinner and none of them interacting! Like many people now, we have a rule that all cell phones must stay off the table during a meal. That makes a difference.

  2. I don’t have any of my devices set to notify me when I get a comment, and it’s very freeing! 1010ParkPlace may have grown a lot bigger had I responded and played the social media game, but my time is what I value. I’m thinking about writing a memoir… Now THAT will be a time robber. xoxox, Brenda

  3. Dang, my comment disappeared, or it will appear twice…I just wanted to say I enjoyed how you trusted your husband when he took your phone, that was really telling of your relationship. I loved it

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