Unplugged

“Not again,” Jack murmured as he rifled through his leather bag. The autumn wind blew rust-colored leaves against his face as panic began to set in. As much as he hated the idea of being dependent on technology, he truly did feel helpless without his smartphone. He closed the bag’s flap in exasperation and began to retrace his path down the dirt walkway.

He’d taken out his earbuds and cut through the park on the way to brunch, in hopes of slowing down a bit and taking in the scenery… all that hippy yoga stuff magazines say will make you live longer. And look what good it had done him!

The realization that he’d been the victim of another pickpocket was still sinking in. Was it just his bad luck, or was his charming little hometown seeing a crime uptick? A brave squirrel hopped closer and eyed him as he anxiously scanned the grass.

“Nice Converses,” said a voice from behind him. Jack turned, startled, to see a white-haired woman in a tattered coat examining him with interest. “Oh, I didn’t see you there! I think my cell phone has been stolen,” he explained with a frown. “By the squirrel?” the woman quipped, arching an eyebrow. Jack was far from amused. “No, no… I’m hoping I just dropped it and am retracing my steps.”

“I see,” she said as she leaned against a nearby tree trunk. “You know, you’re probably better off without it.” Jack rolled his eyes. Just what he needed—advice from a hobo. “I need to text my friend, actually. I’m going to be late for brunch.”

The woman gently tugged at a string on her coat. “You see, we aren’t meant to have ‘online social networks’ where we ‘like’ others’ statuses and share the most mundane aspects of our lives with distant acquaintances; we are supposed to have meaningful, personal interactions!”

“For someone who opposes technology, you sure seem pretty familiar with it,” Jack chided as he moved to the next patch of grass. The woman squinted and glared at him disapprovingly. “I know enough to know I want no part in it. Just think of the moments you’ve missed while staring into a screen! Stop posting updates about your life and live it!”

Jack nodded. “I see your point. I must say, the few times I’ve been without a phone have been surprisingly liberating.” He reached the park entrance, having seen no sign of his phone. “You know what? Maybe it’s meant to be,” he mused, “Maybe this is the universe telling me I need to take a break from technology!” He felt a weigh lift from his chest and took a deep breath, then slowly exhaled. Maybe this woman was a messenger of sorts. He turned to her. “Thank you… really. This break may be exactly what I needed.”

The woman smiled and watched him hurry away. She reached into her coat and pulled out the smartphone. “Millennials will believe absolutely anything,” she chuckled.