I've always taken great pride in the tender care I give to my cell phone. Until recently, I could boast that with all of the various cellular devices I've possessed through the years (dating back to the first Motorola bag phone my dad gave me during the Early Iron Age), I'd never once had so much as a bent antenna.

While my three teen daughters seem to enjoy competing to see how high they can bounce their iPhones off of parking lot pavement, my trusty phone case keeps my device safe and secure on the rare occasions when I drop it while fumbling with my wallet to pay for their multiple repairs. Ironically, my sturdy and practical phone case is an object of derision from my daughters, who insist on enveloping their phones in flimsy, fashionable covers whose main protective feature is an over-abundance of glitter.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I spent my Friday evening trying to decide whether to place my middle daughter on emergency life support due to acute Snapchat-deficient syndrome, or race around town trying to find a cell phone repair shop that was still open and could (for the second time) replace her entire screen, which had become dislodged in an incident involving the school cafeteria's tile floor and a corn dog.

While my credit card was still in shock over this costly repair, I suddenly found myself the victim of cruel irony.

Shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, I spent a solid weekend assembling a Christmas lighting display to rival that of Clark W. Griswold. My neighbors could only gaze on with incredulous envy as I festooned my roofline and front lawn with multiple strings of C9 bulbs (some of them actually working).

Unfortunately, my triumph was short-lived. When I reached for my phone to commemorate this achievement with a photo, I realized that it had become wedged in my pocket against a pair of rarely-used needle-nose pliers, and the unresponsive screen was now streaked with random bars of light. Even my fail-safe troubleshooting technique of turning off the phone and turning it back on again was ineffective.

Suddenly, I panicked! How could I check Facebook every five minutes, or play that game with the little jetpack man? What if one of my daughters tried to text me requesting more cash? As I began to hyperventilate, I remembered the phone repair shop. I could simply take it there the next day and return to happily allowing this wireless device to control my very existence.

After a fitful night's sleep, I arrived at the shop early the next morning, only to sit in the car a full fifteen minutes past the posted opening time. Apparently, the teenager in charge of the place was still in a drive-thru somewhere waiting for his breakfast burrito.

Unable to tolerate further delay, I drove across the road to another repair shop/tobacco emporium where the technician invited me to peruse his selection of hookah pipes and flavored rolling papers while he dissected my iPhone. After twenty minutes of waiting (and learning all I ever wanted to know about herb grinders) I was informed that the screen I needed was out of stock.

In full freak-out mode, I drove back to the first shop I had visited and found it open - finally! The young technician, having just finished his burrito - no doubt - was able to replace my screen, subtly scoff at my bulky phone case, and send me on my way in about ten minutes.

I'm still a bit embarrassed about the relief I felt having my iPhone working again. As I often tell my eye-rolling daughters, I managed to survive for over twenty years without the luxury of a cell phone - and now I depend on it like a vital appendage. I guess I'm not that different from my girls, after all.

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Copyright 2020 Jase Graves distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at [email protected]