Barbed Wire Toilet

For our 2nd Anniversary, William and I took a 6 day trip to Greece!

Words do a terrible job of describing just how rich and beautiful that country is. We explored for miles, ate de-li-cious food, soaked in the sun, and took way too many pictures.

But what our picture album didn’t capture were the tears that rolled down my face on Day 3 of our most favorite trip ever.


It was our last day in Athens. We had already walked the entire city… twice, and decided we should spend our last day doing something different.

So we hoped on a local bus and took it 5 miles south to the coast. Knowing we would be doing a lot of walking, I decided to leave my backpack behind — throwing my phone in my back pocket and my camera around my neck. Ready for anything…

We had a lovely day exploring Athens’ colorful coast — something we had not originally planned to do.

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But by late afternoon… we hit a wall.

It was getting really hot, we were probably a little dehydrated, our feet were throbbing (and blistered), and I really needed to go to bathroom. Oh, the memories.

So we slowly made our way back to the bus station. I was complaining and asking William why we couldn’t “just get an Uber” while he ignored my pettiness and did his best to quickly get us on the right path. Typical. 

We waited for what felt like forever (5 minutes) in direct sun, squeezed our way onto a grimey bus, and held on with the little bit of energy we had left.

2 buses and 30 minutes later, we were dropped off at the bottom of our street. Praise the Lord. We were walking quickly, dreaming of taking a nap in an air conditioned room. And we weren’t talking, knowing we didn’t have anything nice to say.

I threw open the door, and without even turning on the lights, ran to the bathroom…

 

“KER-PLUNK!”

When I realized what had just happened I started screaming words only appropriate for a moment like this. Words that very rarely leave my mouth.

“Babe!?! What happened!?”, William was yelling from the other side of the door.

I didn’t respond because my brain couldn’t think past what my eyes were seeing.

I quickly grabbed my phone from the bottom of the toilet, ripped off the case, and grabbed the nearest hand towel. All while chanting, “No, noOo, no, no NO, noooo, no!….”, as if that would help.

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I opened the bathroom door and (with the most pitiful voice) started to mutter, “I forgot my phone was in my back pocket…”. But William was already by the front door, putting on his 2nd shoe.

He had obviously caught on by now and without saying anything, rushed out of the apartment.


I sat there in the dark, in tears, wiping every single crevice of my beloved iPhone… for the 37th time. (Still needing to go to the bathroom… #priorities)

I was trying so hard to get the phone to turn off. But the screen was going crazy, flashing, glitching… you name it.

“Ugh, I’m so so stupid”…  the main thought that kept circling in my mind. “I’ve never done something like this. How could I be so forgetful?!”

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More tears.

“THAT STUPID TOILETTT!”… my next thought. Because we always want something else to blame… don’t we?

You see… this wasn’t just any toilet. This was a barbed wire toilet.

Yes, you read that correctly…

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I hated it from the moment I laid eyes on it. It was such an odd addition to our otherwise, very cool and sophisticated AirBnb. We couldn’t figure out why anyone would want such a thing in their home.

So you can imagine my desire to want to blame it for my mishap. 


Minutes later William stormed back in with a bag of (what he thought was rice but was actually) orzo pasta. (This made me laugh). Clearly homeboy needs to go grocery shopping more often. 

He was tired and had put up with my lack of a good attitude for the last hour… but so kindly and calmly came in, removed my sim card, and prepared a new get-away home for my iPhone. Bless it…

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I was still pouting (and taking these pictures) as he told me, “You’re going to have to be patient… it probably needs to stay in this bag for a week.”

“A WEEK!?”… are you crazy?! Who can go a week without their phone?!


We were leaving Athens to go to Santorini the following morning and ‘everything’ was on my phone…

Our entire travel itinerary.

My boarding passes.

My airport lounge/ priority pass.

Our airbnb hosts and tour guide contact information.

Multiple restaurant recommendations.

And, the giver of life while traveling: Google Maps. (William’s phone location (therefore, maps) doesn’t work on his phone).

I was starting to see how much of our trip was dictated by my phone… how much we relied on it… how much authority I had allowed it. 


I couldn’t sleep that night. William had set his alarm for 4 am (for our 8 AM flight)… but I woke up every hour until then. I kept trying to sleep knowing we had a long day ahead, but I think subconsciously my mind was fearful of sleeping through his alarm… fearful of only having 1 phone to depend on waking us up. (Red flag #1).

When his alarm did go off, I found myself reaching for my bedside. My hand desperately trying to find that small rectangular drug device… with no luck. When I woke enough to remember where it was, I laid there bitter… thinking how terrible it is to get out of bed before checking social media. (Red flag #2).

William was able to get my boarding pass uploaded to his phone and I brought my orzo-pasta-phone through security to Santorini with only a few stares.

Luckily, our airport chauffeur and AirBnb host were waiting for us as planned (because we didn’t have a way to contact them otherwise).

After we got settled, I tried to remember what I had planned for the day. (As usual, I had made a travel itinerary of where to eat lunch, what locations had the best views, where to buy groceries, etc.) But there were things I couldn’t remember… so we simply wandered. We asked people for recommendations. We lived without a plan. (Not something I usually enjoy doing). At first, it felt like hours of research had gone down the drain. But later, I realized… I needed this.

Every time we got ready to lock up our Oia “cave house”, I would quickly turn around to go back inside, “Oops! Hold on… I forgot my phone!”, only to essentially pivot back around and be confronted by my husband who was standing there smirking, watching my addiction play out. (Red flag #3).

William is one of those rare millennials who doesn’t completely rely on their phone. This is one of our constant battles in marriage as he tries to get me to put away our third wheel. But despite the fact that he was probably thrilled my phone had decided to take a swim in Athens, he decided to let me Instagram once a day from his phone (in order to document our travels). Before we would go to bed, he would hand it over and smile… in hopes of making me feel better about my current situation. What’s scary though… is that… it did. (Red flag #4)

Our final night in Santorini, I couldn’t stand it any longer. After a couple glasses of wine and puppy dog eyes, William agreed to let me check on my phone… (probably also a bit curious as to how much more money this trip could potentially cost him 😉

I plugged it up to a charger and it immediately indicated that it was in fact, charging. Good sign. Hours later, it was fully charged, and from a first glance, appeared to be back to normal. Really good sign. 

Text messages and emails started to come in, and my eyes lit up. I was “back on the grid”, sucked in, and in a matter of seconds I was more excited about staring into a pasta-residue-covered phone than enjoying our last night on the most beautiful island I’ve ever been (Red flag #5).


Our last morning in Greece, we woke up early to catch our flight(s) back to Germany. By now, my phone had ditched it’s get-away home and was functioning (for the most part). It was amazing how much easier it was traveling with my phone, yet also a heavy reminder…

After 3 full days of red flags waving in my face, I couldn’t deny it. I knew that ugly barbed wire toilet had opened my eyes to more than just it’s hideous design.

I felt embarrassed — knowing that somewhere along the way I had lost sight of what a healthy relationship with my iPhone really looked like. Knowing that I had given it way too much control over my life. Knowing that I had been missing opportunities to be present. 


It’s been 2 weeks since our trip, and I’ve tried really hard to be intentional about spending less time on my phone.

Not grabbing it the second I wake up. Not aimlessly scrolling through social media when I’m bored. Not checking my email 10 times a day, just because I can. Not allowing it to be the last thing I look at before shutting my eyes.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been challenging. Especially when unemployed, with a lot of extra free time.

Although, my phone is 95% back to normal (including the microphone, sound, camera, buttons)… there is one section on the touch screen that no longer works. It’s essentially a straight line down the left of the screen… which makes pressing any of the icons in the 2nd column (on the home screen), or the R, F, C, 4, semicolon, or comma (on the type-pad) very difficult to press.

Also, due to this area of the touch screen not working, it makes any swiping motion pretty much impossible. Aka… I can’t answer calls, turn up/down the brightness, etc. Ha.

It’s been very humbling to get around these obstacles. You don’t realize how often you need a comma or the letter R (looking at you… ALL OF MY PASSWORDS!!!). “Voice to text” has become my new best friend. I’m often rotating the screen and trying to tap icons justtt right to get where I want. And friends and family have been very patient as I deny their calls and then immediately call them back.

With all that being said… there have definitely been moments of frustration…

Like when I’m trying to use Google Maps to get somewhere (and I’m running late) and I cannot for the life of me type in the address (because it has 1 or all 3 of the aforementioned letters) and the Voice to Text is translating a German street name “Bahnhofstrasse” to “fun of stress”.

True story. Insert me yelling: STRESS IS NOT FUN!!

Or when I’m trying to use my Google Translate app to highlight over a German restaurant’s menu… but it can’t pick up the section that no longer works. So I say screw it and order something I think I know (a mixed salad)…. but end up with a salad covered in tuna fish. JOY.


As frustrating as these daily obstacles can be, I’m also learning to be thankful for them.

Because 1) having to buy a new phone right now would honestly be worse… but more importantly,  2) Because they force me to remember the “barbed wire toilet lesson”, as I now refer to it.

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It’s made my desire to spend less time on my phone a whole lot easier. Everyday, there’s something that doesn’t happen as quickly or as easily as I would like it to, and it immediately takes me back to Greece. To those 3 tragic yet glorious days where I was phone-less.

Those 3 worst-best days of my life — where my eyes were opened to what was controlling my life.

All thanks to that stinkin’ barbed wire toilet. Well, and maybeee, my clumsiness 🙂

 


 

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