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The Job Blog

Off the grid

My wife has consistently accused me of being addicted to my iPhone. On vacation I would need to get somewhere with wifi, waiting anywhere at all, at any time and for anything would give me the opportunity to check my mail or use some other function. Her real pet peeve when at home in the evening responding to work emails.

It has become an integral part of my communication stream, from work emails, to what’s app messages, facebooking, Netflix streaming, game playing and my obsession with food apps.

I had of course played down my level of usage and arrogantly put it down to my wife exaggerating. ( She does work in tv so this would not be a huge leap to believe).

So I could hear her laughter in my head when I dropped my iPhone into a pot of lasagna sauce whilst stirring it. I was at the time preparing meals in advance as she had just had our second baby, Hugo. The injustice of it left me smarting. I fished it out hastily and burned myself several times in the process.

I rapidly cleaned it and to my absolute joy, it worked! I called the person back I was talking to and related the story of why I had cut them off. Crisis avoided. Within hours however my iPhone started to go into cardiac arrest.

It thought the earphones where in when they weren’t, and then it went on to voice command and dialed or face timed most of my clients at ungodly hours of the night. It was still under warranty but had to be sent to the USA, so I would have a week with no iPhone. How hard could it be? I took one of the basic issue Nokia’s we give to new employees, truth be told I had never really looked at them.

My first lesson came when I attempted to put my SIM card into it, Apple had forced me to use a micro sim for reasons I am still unclear on so the Nokia wouldn’t accept it. I now had a new number, no contacts and a phone that was so complicated by virtue of its simplicity that I couldn’t use it.

Day 1 Liberation

I thought I would go off the grid and give only my wife the new number. I could answer mails and take calls at work and not be on call in the evening. The worst case, I could use my iPad to answer urgent work mails in the evening. I would be akin to the arty types or tree huggers who turn their back on technology and wear recycled shoes.

Day 2 Realization

Going cold turkey hits me with huge withdrawals. My morning routine is gone. Checking mails, linkedin, Facebook and the news. I decide to get the iPad but within seconds my two year olds fingers were on it and loading up YouTube.

This is when he demonstrates just how many languages wheels on the bus is actually available on the web, his particular favorite being the Dutch version. He also gives me an insight into his weird obsession with garage door videos, he sits there watching them opening and closing. There are a lot of scary people out there. I try to calmly take charge of the iPad when he starts to show me the chain of command by proceeding to scream in my face. He wakes up his one week old brother. I retreat licking my wounds and tend to his brother. All the time pledging revenge for this slight.

Day 3 Exasperation

I am averaging one call a day and it is from my wife. I thought I was more popular than that when I realize I only gave her the number. The office ridicules me when the phone goes off, the ring tone is the best I can find but it seems to be hilarious to everyone but me. I am still in the habit of checking my phone every few minutes to check emails on a phone that doesn’t have any. Which again makes me look ridiculous.

Day 4 Acceptance

I start to try and use the phone, and realize it has a torch which I think is pretty cool for some odd reason. I also find out that it has a speaking clock which again seems to amuse me more than everybody else. I find myself coming home espousing the virtues of being free from the shackles of the Iphone and that everyone should go off the grid and live a little and not be a slave to the their smartphones. I have turned into some sort of evangelist.

Day 5 Relapse

6:30am, I find myself trying to wrestle the Ipad from my two year old, I am convinced I heard the noise of new emails coming from it, I am sure I need to respond to whoever it is. He is uncannily strong but I am the victor. The one email that is there at his time of the morning is from a chap I don’t know, a crown prince in Africa who would like me to deposit USD$25,000 into his account in order to gain a 10 million dollar inheritance from his dictator father. My two year old is not impressed and decides to voice his concerns very loudly. I decide to handle this in the way most parents would and attempt bribery. Cheesy flavor puff snacks are quickly assembled in a bowl and he grabs at them, but quick as a flash installs himself back in front of the Ipad and we are back to Youtube. I settle in for a morning of wheels on the bus on repeat.

Day 6 Anger

I hit the office with a mission. I am going through the fine print on the website of the mac store to try and find out why they couldn’t give me a replacement phone on the spot, why did it have to go to the USA. This is their fault, I assure myself. I spend the morning going over the legal terminology trying to find a loop hole whereby I can confront them and get a new Iphone. I come up empty.