Almost six weeks ago, I jumped on a Metro bus to return home from a Yin Yoga class. I had my phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, in my pocket. After getting settled into the house, I went to play some music and realized that I couldn't find my phone. I pinged the phone from my watch to no avail. It was then that I started to panic, though it was initially a measured panic. I say that because, on the way to class, I struggled to fit the phone into the pocket of my yoga shorts and close the zipper. Naturally, I had to take the phone out of my pocket for class, but I guess that I assumed the pocket was zipped up around the phone when I left. After tossing every cushion in the living room and walking around in a few circles, I jumped online to see if I could track my phone. Android devices, much like Apple devices, has a feature, if enabled, that allows you to track the last known location. I was ready to jump in my car and chase down the bus to see if I could retrieve the phone. I saw the device on a map that seemed to mirror the bus route. Unfortunately, within a couple of minutes, the phone sat idle on along bus route.Perhaps I was still in denial or just shock, but I surprisingly sat frozen in time for a few minutes. I started at the green pin that indicated the phone's location on the map. The green pin meant the phone was still powered on. I came to my senses and locked the phone remotely and pushed an emergency notice to display on the screen. "THIS PHONE IS LOST. IF FOUND, PLEASE CONTACT ME FOR RETURN AND REWARD." I included my email address. I waited for about 10 minutes, starting at the green pin. Nothing. I kept thinking, "Maybe I should drive to the location to see if someone ditched the phone." The problem was that I didn't have another device to keep tabs of the phone's location so I could be too late by the time I got there. What to do? Another five minutes, or so, pass when I noticed the green pin went grey. That meant the device had gone offline. Someone had powered down the phone. Ugh! I felt like I went through several stages of grief in the 20-30 minutes after discovering my phone was missing. I quickly moved to acceptance or resignation that the phone was gone. I arranged for the phone to be completely wiped the next time the phone was powered on. I keep my phone pretty secure, so I knew a data wipe would be fine. My only residual worry was the microSD card in the phone. It was the default location for saving photos from the camera. While all of the images were backed up with Google Photos, I was concerned about someone being able to get access to the images and do something stupid. Nothing scandalous, mind you; but still. I went into the wireless account to report the phone lost/stolen. This is supposed to flag the phones electronic ID, preventing anyone from being able to register the device with any U.S. carrier. At this point, there's no way to know if that flag worked because once I wiped the phone I could no longer track any of its activity.For a while, I thought about using this loss as an opportunity to take a break from smartphones. I frequently think about stepping away from the smartphone game and giving myself the benefit of a notification-free life. Fortunately, I usually keep a spare phone or two in the house; including a flip phone that a few friends mercilessly roast me about owning and using. Oh, shoot...I remembered that I wiped those "dumb phones" and donated them to a charity. That left me with an iPhone 5S and a Huawei Nexus 6P (Google's Android flagship released in the fall of 2015). Since I've been using Android for the last three years, I decided to dust off the Nexus 6P and activate it on my line. I was back in business.While I was happy to have an extra phone in the house, that is not what lead to this post.Carla was making arrangements with Samsung to get the new Galaxy Note 9. Full disclosure: She's been an unpaid talent ambassador, of sorts, for a few years. She asked if the Samsung rep if they set her up with two Note 9s, and shared the story of me losing my phone on the bus. They could not offer me a Note 9 but told her they would send me a Galaxy S9. Sweet! A couple of weeks turned into a month, but the phone was finally shipped and I was giving a shipping tracking number. On the scheduled day of delivery, I was like a kid on Christmas morning, sitting on the front porch anxiously waiting for the UPS driver. The driver handed me the package and I went inside to a clear dining room table for my big reveal and unboxing. I tore the edge of the padded shipping envelope. Anticipation is at full throttle. And then...
Out drops the familiar black Samsung box with the words Galaxy S8 Plus. Hmmm. Frown. That's not what I was expecting. Though not as bad, it reminded me when my parents faked me out one Christmas. I asked for a boom box and there was a big box under the tree. I was so excited until I tore off the wrapping paper and discovered a clipper ship model. What...In the entire...F*CK!?Again, my reaction to the Galaxy S8 Plus wasn't that bad. But it would be quite disingenuous if I said that I wasn't disappointed. To the average, non-nerdy, non-tech following smartphone user/consumer, there's not much difference. But to someone who reads
almost every day, there is a pretty discernable difference -- from the internal specs to the all-important camera upgrade.
Galaxy S9+ < > Galaxy S8+
In spite of my grumblings and WTFs, I started to get the phone set up. Most things with the setup felt familiar because I was had the Samsung Note 8. I could not get the damn thing to upgrade from Android 7 Nougat to Android 8 Oreo, which only turned up the heat on my self-pity skillet. Why didn't I get the S9 or S9 Plus? Wah wah wah.After a few minutes (read: about a full day) of grumbling about receiving the S8 Plus, it felt like a huge sign fell out of the sky and hit me square on the head. It read.
Here I am sulking like the younger me staring at a build-it-yourself clipper ship under the Christmas tree. How about being grateful that Samsung sent you the phone? They didn't have to give you anything! Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth. Here I am scuffing my shoes because I received last year's model, and not appreciating that I have been spared spending $1,000 or more on a new phone. I was reminded of something Mark Nepo shared at a workshop in New York earlier this year.
"We're chasing there, but we need to realize there is no there. There is only here."
I am a little embarrassed about my reaction but so glad that I took some time to step back, process, and be truly appreciative. The upside of this episode with the phone is that it has led to examine where I need to display more genuine gratitude and thankfulness for people and experiences, much more than things, in my life.