One question resonates through our house like a chant: Where is my phone charger?
And then the finger-pointing begins
Has anybody seen it? Did somebody take it to school? Did we leave it at the Hampton Inn? Is it in a backpack? Is it behind the couch? Did the dog eat it?
Like socks in a clothes dryer, our house seems to ingest phone chargers.
Maybe a ghost harvests them from outlets while we are sleeping and hoards them somewhere like little hotel soaps.
As early adopters of Apple products, our house runs on those little white chargers that transfer juice into our iPhones, iPads and MacBooks. But, try was we might, we seem to lose or misplace them with comical consistency.
I even tried buying every one in the house a color-coded phone charger last Christmas, but it didn’t work. They disappeared like a bowl full of Chiclets.
Let’s stipulate that this charger thing is a First World problem and should not therefore be confused with actual human suffering. Nonetheless, the case of our magically disappearing chargers makes me itch with frustration.
Fearing this was some sort of character flaw peculiar to our family, I asked a workmate — who is about my age and also has two sons — if he has ever encountered the disappearing charger issue.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Here’s what you do.”
He described his system of installing phone chargers behind furniture so only the business end sticks out, while the actual wire is concealed and plugged into a hard-to-reach outlet. The trick, he said, is to make your chargers impervious to the grab-and-run tactics of your children, who see iPhone chargers being as disposable as toothpicks.
Apple compounds the problem by changing its chargers every couple of years. We have basket in our family room filled with old chargers that looks like a pile of cooked pasta. Alas, the chargers are worthless on our newer devices.
Sometimes the boys fight for the use of our ever-dwindling supply of chargers. It’s like some twisted version of “Hunger Games” in which somebody might die from Wi-Fi deprivation.
“Hey, can I use the charger? I only have 10 percent power,” one of the boys will say.
“Well, I only have 5 percent power, and I’m working on homework,” the other will retort.
“Well, I pay the power bill, and it’s my charger to begin with,” I will insist.
“Nuh-uh,” our 11-year-old son will say. “It’s my charger. I remember when Nan-Na gave it to me three Christmases ago.”
“Oh, she did not,” our 15-year-old son will say. “If I don’t get this homework done, I won’t get into a good college.”
It is at this point I have to resist the urge to dash into the laundry room and flip the breaker just to stop the madness.
Frankly, I’m not sure the boys would even realize the lights were off. But they would scream bloody murder if the Wi-Fi went dark.
Our older son, 16, would simply switch to the 4G phone network. He devours mobile-phone data like Joey Chestnut eats Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.
Before we had a teen in the house, my wife and I merely nibbled at our monthly data allotment. Now we get ominous text messages midway through the month warning that we are running short of data and that if we don’t curb our usage trouble will ensue. This feels like a form of blackmail to get us to switch to an unlimited data plan.
These urgent texts usually necessitate a family meeting, at which we preach to the boys that “gigabytes don’t grow on trees, you know.”
Ah, the hardships of 21st-century life.
Some day, the boys will look back on these childhood “hardships” the way I remember TVs before remote controls. And raking the shag carpeting.
Heck, I’m older than evolution.
I remember when grapes still had seeds.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645.