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Looking out my Backdoor: A simple phone, please


February 8, 2018

Last night, Don and Dorothy, former neighbors, made arrangements to meet me to go to Loony Beans in Cerritos for breakfast. I went to the lobby at 8:50. I like to be prompt. I waited until 9:45 before I gave up; figured my wires had gotten crossed.

Things had gone bump in the night. I had left my simple, cheap, adequate Mexican cellphone on the bed where I was lounging with a book. I always, always, always put said phone away in my bag in its pocket. Later in the night, when I rolled over and stretched, I heard the phone hit the floor. Shattered, of course.

When I got up this morning, I put the phone back together, the best I could. It’s dead. Of course.

My only record of Don and Dorothy’s phone number is in the dead cellphone. Of course.

Unbeknownst to me, they were waiting for the taxi which was very, very, very late. We each could have walked the distance twice in the amount of time we spent “waiting.” Don had called me 10 times, to let me know why they were not yet in the lobby.

We missed one another by minutes. Of course.

When I went back upstairs, I shot off a series of email messages to my neighbors. It was that or walk the eight or nine blocks to where they live but probably are not home because they are eating breakfast without me in Cerritos. I wrote three messages to tell them what had happened to me. Okay, I’m having a disjointed day. Obviously.

I choked down a ham sandwich made with dry bread from my refrigerator. While sitting on my balcony with my current best friend, steaming coffee, I glanced out over the sea to see the ferry from La Paz floating by in the sky. I swear, it looked like a gigantic blimp. A second look showed me that the ferry was floating in fog which obscured both waterline and skyline. I tell you, it’s that kind of a day.

After I gulped my final cup of coffee, I took my metaphorical begging bowl and my best smile down to the lobby to borrow a phone to call Carlos to ask him to take me to buy an overpriced and overloaded chunk of plastic that requires the user to have an advanced tech degree to operate and that I don’t want. All I want is my simple, old, cheap and adequate phone. Something to make simple phone calls. No, I do not resent the world passing me by.

Meanwhile, Don came home, read his email and walked over to my hotel with an extra phone he and Dorothy happened to have, a near clone to my shattered phone. I exaggerate. It is not exactly shattered, merely in pieces.

Don took my phone, rearranged the pieces, put them together like a child’s puzzle, and turned it on. It works. Perfectly. My face is red.

Even I can put the puzzle together. I had simply neglected to “turn it on.” I am almost too embarrassed to admit I overlooked such a simple step. I mean, it was “on” when I kicked it off the bed.

I thought long and hard about not admitting this part to save face. But the truth makes a better story. Like I said, it’s that kind of day.

It’s time for me to go home.


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com. Email [email protected]/.


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