Monthly Archives: February 2013

Remember When Smartphone Protectors Weren’t A Cottage Industry?

A few weeks ago I did my patriotic duty and upgraded to an iPhone 5. At a third of an inch shorter and nearly one ounce heavier, my iPhone 4 was like something out of the Middle Ages.

“Do you want to get an iPhone protector, sir?” the salesperson asked me as our dealings were drawing to a close and our teams of lawyers were shaking hands. He waved his hand over a display.

“These go for $38 apiece, but if you buy one now as part of your upgrade, I can probably give one to you for, oh…” he scratched his chin “…how does $30 sound?”

I looked over the display. “Do you have any in blue?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “Just black, pink, and leopard.”

“I was really hoping to get something in blue.”

“You should stop hoping.”

“Thanks, but I think I’ll pass,” I said, and started to sign the reams of paperwork that go with the upgrade.

“Sir, are you really going to leave the store unprotected?” the salesperson asked. “It’s dangerous out there. If something happened to your new phone…” He didn’t have to finish the sentence, but looked down at the ground and faintly shook his head from side to side, pondering the consequences.

I went with the leopard case. It was sleek and thin and was particularly effective against Vervet monkeys. The peace of mind was invaluable…until I saw the protector my sister-in-law had obtained for her iPhone 5. Hers had been custom-made by a company called OtterBox. The protector had three main components to it: an inner shield, a clear covering for the glass face, and a hard plastic outer shell that could withstand being dropped or burned at the stake for heresy.

I have never dropped or scratched a cell phone but the very sight of the OtterBox got me thinking. What if I did drop my iPhone? What if I threw it? Sartre says that we are condemned to be free. With the terrifying freedom to throw my iPhone, how could I go another moment without an OtterBox? I stayed home for a few days with a “family emergency” and safeguarded my iPhone with the cheap protector until the custom-made OtterBox arrived—blue—delivered by an otter that balanced a ball on its nose while I signed the receipt.

As I clicked the hard outer shell closed I felt my worries lift like a morning mist. At last I could safely take my iPhone out into the world, and to celebrate I let my iPhone sit on the edge of a table for half an hour.

That night I had a terrible dream. It was still the Cold War, and the Soviet Union had discovered my iPhone 5 to be part of a secret operation to take photographs of nuclear warheads and put them on Instagram. I watched helpless as my iPhone was crushed under the treads of a Red Army tank. Even the OtterBox could not stop the guts of my iPhone from running blue through the streets of Leningrad. I awoke in a sweat and, after wiping my hand to prevent smudging, held my iPhone close. When would we feel safe?

I located a man in my town who had designed the craft that the space program sent to Mars. He told me all about it while I stood in his trailer. With a home equity loan I commissioned him to build me an iPhone protector that could enter the Earth’s atmosphere at 33,000 miles per hour, slam into the ground somewhere in Russia, and still give me push notifications on Manti Te’o’s draft status. He found an old tank on Craig’s List, cut holes for the headphones and power cord, and painted it blue.

It is a little strange driving around the neighborhood in my blue iPhone protector tank. The kids point and stare and street parking is next to impossible. But at night I sleep the sleep of the innocent knowing that nothing can damage my iPhone 5. I do not care that I cannot touch the screen to make a call. I never got good reception anyway.

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