Friday, February 17, 2012

A cracked screen -- and a worthwhile reminder

Yesterday’s Boston Globe had a cover story about a freelance computer repairman who is rapidly gaining fame – and presumably fortune – for his skills at repairing non-warrantied damage to iPhones. What primarily caught my attention other than the fact that this guy’s own iPhone is going to crash merely from the number of calls he’s going to be receiving as a result of this story was what he said the two major forms of damage done to iPhones are. One is that they get dropped into toilets; the other is cracked screens.

I’ve never done the former, but when I read the story, I remembered that like almost half of the subject’s clients, I too have cracked the screen on my iPhone.

The price for replacing an iPhone screen was listed in the story as $100, which is just about what I guessed it would cost. Except that I’d all but forgotten my screen was cracked. It happened in late November, and although I briefly contemplated having it repaired at the time, I realized yesterday that the whole idea of fixing it, and in fact the whole idea that I’d broken it, had all but disappeared from my radar in the nearly three months since.

The damage isn’t particularly inconveniencing. It’s a cobweb break that starts in the upper lefthand corner of the screen with a concentrated cluster of cracks; one runs horizontally across the upper part of the screen and one extends about halfway down the left edge, but none of it interferes significantly with visibility of the screen.

Ultimately, though, I don’t really think it’s either the thought of spending $100 or the fact that the cracks aren’t much of an inconvenience that keeps me from seeking out a repair. I think it may be that on some level, the fact that I broke the screen just two weeks after getting the phone serves as a reminder of something important to me: a reminder not to try to juggle too much at once: a reminder to pay attention and be attentive to whatever is in my hands, literally or figuratively.

On the rare occasions that someone sees my cracked screen and asks what happened, I usually hasten to explain that it wasn’t entirely the result of my own carelessness. I was a new iPhone user and was out running with a podcast playing and the NikePlus pedometer app running at the same time. And then the phone rang. That in itself might have been a problem already – I’m not sure I could have taken the phone out of my armband while I was running and answered it without dropping it – but there were even more mitigating factors: there was a message on the screen saying I had to click “Pause Nike Plus” or “Ignore phone call” before I could continue with either one. I got distracted and bogged down in the details, and that was what caused me to drop my phone, and that’s how the screen broke.

But I don’t even completely blame myself. It was a Saturday morning and Tim had called me three different times in the course of my five-mile run. My kids seldom call me at all while I’m out running, but he wanted to make waffles for an overnight guest and needed quite a lot of guidance, as it turned out. So I tend to assign some of the blame to Tim and his waffle-making shortcomings.

Really, though, it’s a story of my own carelessness and, more importantly, my lack of ability to prioritize. The podcast; the pedometer; the phone call; the run: it was just too much for me to integrate seamlessly, and so something broke in the process. Shortly after that, I started using a wristband pedometer instead of the Nike Plus app, and I learned to answer the phone without taking it out of the armband if it does happen to ring while I’m running. These are arcane adjustments, but it was a way of addressing information overload that took care of a trivial but still relevant problem.

Maybe I will get the screen fixed eventually. But I don’t know that I’ll do it any time soon. In the bulls-eye shape of the cracks on my screen is a message: slow down, stay focused, stop going off in so many directions at once. It’s a good lesson for me to remember, and so having it reinforced every time I look at my screen seems, by and large, like a very good thing.

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