Last week my husband and I took our very first family vacation with our new little one, and on the second day away from home my cell phone suddenly stopped working. It offered no warning or explanation for its deadness. (Personally, I think it was made to break two weeks before my upgrade.)

So I found myself without mobile access to the multiple listing service and my email, documents, faxes, phone, address book, calendar, blog feeds, GPS, camera, Facebook and TweetDeck accounts — I had nothing!

I did find a phone plugged into a wall with a handset as big as my head, but I couldn’t remember my own office number. What to do … what to do?

The nearest Verizon store was 35 miles away, but the thought of spending even one of my precious vacation days in manmade purgatory didn’t jibe. I stood there in the hallway, cradling my dear departed Droid and wondering what would happen next.

I stood there a long time.

Nothing happened.

There was complete and utter silence. No message updates and no voice mails. Nothing.

After five or 10 minutes I realized that other people were packing their swim bags for the pool.

"Do you want to borrow my phone?" asked my husband, towel in hand.

I looked at his iPhone in disgust. Its one button fooled me every time.

I shook my head, "Hey, we’re on vacation. I’ll be fine. Everything will be fine." But I wasn’t sure. I reluctantly put the phone down.

The carnival atmosphere of the pool brought me out of my doldrums. I challenged my two 7-year-old nieces to a cannonball competition. Then we ate ice cream. Then we rode our bikes to the novelty store and bought stickers. By 3 p.m. I didn’t miss my phone at all. It felt like I was 7, too! And I’m sorry, Aunt Kim, we were unavailable.

Remember that? Being unavailable?

Nowadays, if you don’t answer your phone you are doing it on purpose. It’s taken as a personal insult because who doesn’t have their cell phone in their pocket or stuck in the top of their bra?

And who hasn’t promised on their voice mail to call back immediately, at the first possible opportunity, or on the quarter hour?

I started to think: How funny would it have been to see our parents pack for vacation, filling the station wagon with the IBM computer, the yellow pages, four yearbooks each, a map of the world, and the 12-volume encyclopedia set we bought from the last-known traveling salesman.

Not to mention my boom box and tapes. Lots of tapes.

Certainly, some of you are arguing that our parents would have brought all of that stuff if only they could have.


What has this magical technology brought us? Teenagers are growing sixth fingers to prop their cell phones up so they can text faster. We are never alone. People want to Skype me at 7 a.m. Really, 7 a.m.?!

And there’s too much to do. Angry Birds and Jewels have replaced taking deep breaths in the great outdoors.

A broken phone was the best thing that happened to me this summer. I received the gift of freedom, and I liked it!

Sure, I have another phone now: an even bigger, faster and more powerful phone that drives my car and pumps gas for me. But every now and then I put it in a drawer and walk away. I am unavailable! And not because I’m in the bathroom or in the car wash.

Did you know that right outside your window the sky is blue, the sun is warm, and trees are growing taller every day?

Try it. Be unavailable.

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