digital letdown.

“Hey, are you taking off?” He smiles. “Was it something I said?”
“Ha! No. Just headed home.”
“Well, here. Can I, uh, can I get your number.”
“Oh, sure. Okay. It’s, uh.” I give him my number.  “I’d put you in my phone, but I don’t even know your last name.”

He smiles. “I’m texting my last name to you right now.”

We wait.

We look at my phone. Nothing happens.

“Did… I mean, I gave you the right number, right?”

We look. I did.

Nothing happens.

“Let, uh, let me try again.”

We wait.

Nothing happens.

“I’ll, uh, how about I call you, I –  yeah. Huh.”

We wait. My phone remains blank. Not like, blank blank, just like — staring at the home screen, nothing happens.

“Yeah. That’s, uh, yeah, I’m getting your voicemail.”

“Huh.”

We wait.

“Well, uh, I should go. I, uh, I mean, that’s totally my real number. I don’t know what’s going on.”

“Yeah, uh, it was, uh, nice to meet you anyways.”

I leave.

My phone remains blank.

I head home. I plan on ducking into the house just for five minutes. I’m headed to another party, I just need to grab the cookies I made earlier that day.

I look at my phone.

My phone remains blank.

I call customer service with my roommate’s phone.

I sit through a long pre-recorded voice menu. I press “1.” I press “*2.” I press “5.” I say “Yes.” I press “1.”

I decide that I’m not headed to that second party after all.

I am transferred to three different women with thick Indian accents. The last one stays on the line for awhile.

I turn my phone off and on, following her instructions. Six times. Nothing happens.

I eat a cookie.

I scroll through the old text messages from earlier this week as I wait for the woman on the end of the line to just “try something on her end.” I re-read the message from the boy, that other boy, the one who sometimes finds himself in my life, who said it was okay if I wrote about him here, who asked me to dinner earlier this week, you know, “sometime,” as in he sent me a text message containing a vague and yet, I think, sincere, “we should get dinner sometime.”

I eat another cookie.

I re-read that text message and think, shit, that kind of sounds like a date, shit shit shit shit, but then again, maybe not, because it was in the form of a text message and it was sent late at night which means he was probably drinking which means it’s probably not a real date which means I shouldn’t sweat it if it never happens which is like totally totally totally totally fine because it’s not like I even wanted to go on a date, god, except, maybe, you know, maybe that would be, I don’t know, nice or whatever, shit shit I don’t know, whatever, why wouldn’t he just pick a time and a place because that would at least let me know if this is like, actually happening or not, shit shit, I hate everything.

I start thinking, you know, I should just text him when the phone service starts working again. Just to be sure. Because what if he actually tried to firm up plans in the two hours I didn’t have a working phone? Clearly that’s definitely almost like a total possibility. I bet that’s what happened.

I think about it.

I bet that’s not what happened.

But it totally could have happened. Like, it almost definitely could have happened.

I turn my phone off. I turn my phone back on.

I make a mental list of the people who have also totally TOTALLY definitely probably called me during the hours I unknowingly didn’t have a working phone. I mean, that first dude, obviously. And that other dude, wanting to take me out to dinner. And also probably some friends have called, wondering if I was going to this party. Probably someone called to offer me work. Someone else offering me a fancy job somewhere else that would make me rich and famous. Amy Poehler. Lena Dunham. Lena Dunham’s agent. All of my celebrity crushes (the actor Lee Pace, the actor Adam Scott, the actor Jason Segal, in that order).

I mean, it’s totally likely that all of those people have called me. Right? Right.

No. It’s not, actually. It’s probably not.

I turn my phone off. I turn it back on.

I successfully complete a phone call, after nearly an hour. My brother. He is irritated because I’m calling him late at night on a Monday. He is even more irritated when I explain that I don’t actually need to speak with him, I was just testing to see if my phone was working. The Indian woman on the other end of the line is patient with me as I explain this to my brother. My brother sounds tired. I hope he’s okay. I bet I woke him up. He works early mornings now.

I’m a terrible sister.

The Indian woman tells me to “enjoy the rest of my day.”

I spoke with her for almost an hour.

I wish I knew her name.

I look at my phone.

I look at my text messages.

Nothing happens.

I wonder why, in a world in which we have more opportunity for connection than ever in the entirety of human existence, there are increasingly more and more and more and more platforms on which one can become disconnected and feel ignored and lonely. I wonder at the beautiful progress of human existence, man’s eternal struggle to invent, innovate, create, explore, and how it has progressed to the point in which I can be personally, professionally, and sexually rejected via telephone, email, text message, facebook, twitter, gchat, skype.

I look at my phone.

I look at my laptop.

I look at the last window I had opened on my laptop. An article in the Times about the growing rates of poverty and homelessness in America’s children. I look at the photo of the girl staring back at me. She lives in New York. She doesn’t have enough to eat. She’s eleven.

I wonder about the Indian woman on the other end of the line.

I look at my phone.

I look at my laptop.

I shut it down.

I pull myself under the covers.

I plug my phone in. I reach for my nightstand.

I open my book.

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15 thoughts on “digital letdown.

  1. there isn’t language for how much i love your words.

    this is a funny (?) question on the heels of this particular latest, most lovely post…

    but, are you on insta?

    i would love to follow you (#kindapretendwerefriends) there. 🙂

    love,

    heather

    …sent from my iPhone…

    >

  2. I wish you could see how many times I share your blog posts on facebook. Give them a shout out on twitter. Mention them on my own blog. Because while I am just one more twenty-something female blogger out there, reading your posts and nodding along, it is the only way I really have from across the country and across the social spheres to connect. To say hey, I agree with you. Hey, I think you’re cool. Hey, this is thought provoking. Hey, this isn’t much, but it’s the closest I can get to that beautiful phrase that people seem to think runs amok in kindergarten yet I can never remember saying – hey, wanna be friends?

  3. I have a feeling your shopping lists could inspire an emotional connection in me. This situation and your insight about the dichotomy of connectedness and loneliness are not new but you made it so much more relatable for me.

    Our ‘devices’ have certainly become a double edged sword for us these days. Given the access we have to information and other people you’d have to assume that ignorance and loneliness were all but eradicated…but we all know that’s not true. A ‘screen’, whether it illuminates or not, still hides you from others.
    There’s much to be said for looking into the eyes of another to really make a connection.

    P.S.
    sometimes late at night when I’ve been drinking I send a message to another person saying “Hey, it would be nice to see you soon. Maybe dinner soon?”
    All it means is, “I really like you and I wish it was you I had spent tonight drinking with…and this message is purposely non-committal so I don’t scare you away.”
    I’m not saying this is true for everyone…I’m just saying.

    P.P.S.
    I had to google Lee Pace…

    B,xo

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