Column: The Phone

It is Thursday and the world is crumbling around me

Up to now, the day had passed with relative ease. I had taken the tram to a meeting. I had read about the impending destruction of the human race in a free newspaper I found on the seat beside me. I had strolled into a café for a cup of coffee, before I realised the plastic cup would contribute to the impending destruction of the human race and changed my mind. I have saved the planet and I’m still on time for my meeting. Today is a good day.

It is only when I come to text the person I’m meeting that I realise my error; my devastating, day-changing error.

And now here I am, stood outside his building. I can’t get in. I can’t let him know that I have arrived. I stand motionless, helpless. This strong start to the day has been cruelly snatched from me – and the day ahead looks bleaker still.

I have left my phone at home.

The initial panic and confusion gives way to a greater sense of dread as I realise that I am, actually, completely out of communication. I am in the dark. All I have are the clothes on my back.

How am I to arrange things? How do I cancel that lunch-date I’d never really intended to keep with that woman I don’t really like? How do I let the world know my thoughts on the impending destruction of the human race if I can’t get on Twitter? Do I to just pick a random selection of people on the street and let them know? They would think me a lunatic. And am I supposed to just guess what time tea will be ready.

Then, of course, there are the people desperately trying to get hold of me? What happens if I miss a phone call from an incredibly important person offering me a multi-million-pound contract to do something incredibly important. What if they have thrown away any careful process of recruiting talent in favour of aimlessly working through a list of people and the first to answer gets the job?

What if my girlfriend Michaela has inexplicably driven into a pack of wild lions on her way to work and currently finds herself surrounded as they pace and plot and prepare to pounce. After hundreds of calls and messages, she decides she has no option but to attempt a run for it – at which point they attack, tearing her limb from limb and devouring her as a mid-morning snack. I can’t say I’ve heard reports of wild lions in the area – and I’m fully aware of how unlikely a scenario this is – but I’ll sure be sorry if such a blasé approach denies me one last call with my sweet love.

OK. I’m going home.

I set off down the street as I spot a man crossing the road. I know this. I see this man here most days. He clutches a bible and has his eyes fixed on me. Ordinarily, I would blissfully ignore him in favour of a scroll through Instagram. Not today. Today I am without my shield of ignorance. Today he has me fixed in his graze and I have nowhere else to look.

“Look up more,” he barks as we pass and our eyes meet, “the world is a beautiful place with such riches to offer.”

And, suddenly, it strikes me. He is right. The world is a beautiful place. It does have riches to offer. We should look up more.

Today is my day. What if leaving my phone at home had been a divine gift from above? A chance to soak up the beauty of the world and reconnect with what’s important without the distraction of work or social media or unnecessary contact.

Michaela will be fine. The job can wait. Who cares what time tea is?

I stride onward in search of somewhere for lunch. Renewed by my brief encounter with the man I so often ignore. I smile at people and wish them good morning, they smile back and return the pleasantry. I feel my ailing faith in humanity being slowly pieced back together and my view of the world around me coming into focus. Only now do I realise how blurred it had been. I look up and look around. I see the window frames and potted plants and sculptures on the buildings above. The colours seem sharper, the usual grey of the city is overwhelmed by the beauty I have long missed. The beauty of the mundane. The beauty of the places I pass with my head buried in my phone. The beauty of the dog poo encasing my left foot.

Sorry. Wait. What? I have stood in dog poo? I turn my attention downwards and… yes… I have. I have stood in dog poo. My new-found interest in the window frames and potted plants and sculptures on the buildings have taken me square into a pile of a dog’s excrement. Or could it be… wait… lion poo?

OK. I really am going home.

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By Darryl Morris

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